Blackjack Strategy: When To Hit Or Stand In Blackjack? We Got You, Bro!

blackjack strategy guide

What’s up rollers,

This time we will discuss one of the most popular casino games: The king of the hill, his royal majesty – blackjack. In fact, this game is your best bet to actually win some prizes in front of a dealer. In this blog specifically designed with blackjack players in mind, we‘ll focus on basic rules, busted myths, counting cards, and strategy charts for this casino game. Let’s get cracking!

Why Play Blackjack Games?

Before I lay a blackjack strategy chart in front of you and talk about the system, there are a few mega important things you must remember about the game called blackjack:

  • Blackjack has the best winning odds. It’s a simple matter of math and statistics, my dear bros and broettes. It goes like this: If you want to eliminate the house edge by all means, and beat the dealer with a strategy card in your head, blackjack offers you the highest possibility for success.
  • If you are playing a standard 3 to 2 payoff with few decks and some cool, lenient rules, the house edge will drop down to less than 1%. Alongside video poker, blackjack is a card game where your choices and decisions really matter.
  • Another gem of advice to build your betting strategy is this: The goal of the game is not to get as close to 21 or hit it straight up but to beat the dealer instead.

How To Play Blackjack: Card Rules

Blackjack Card Rules

No blackjack strategy guide is complete without card rules. Value cards are counted by their face value, whereas picture cards (or face cards) count as 10. The exception is the ace, which counts as either 11 or 1. Also, forget about the card suits. They are irrelevant when developing a basic blackjack strategy.

Let’s do a little match for a better frame of reference. If a player has a hand containing a 5, 3, and a king, that hand totals 18. Ace always counts as 11 unless doing so would sink your hand to the bottom of the sea. For instance, if a player holds 6, 7, and hits an ace, it would count as 1 since the value of 11 would bust that hand (making a total of 24).

Needless to say, if a player has a hand with a total that exceeds 21, he or she has gone bust and the dealer comes out all the richer. Once again, keep in mind that your opponent is not “everything but the number 21” or how to reach it. Your opponent is the dealer. You can only see one of his cards (the upcard) while the other (the hole) remains hidden. Roughly speaking, the dealer acts last and must hit when having 16 or less; OR stand when having 17-21.

Blackjack Basic Strategy – Questions You Need To Ask Yourself

Right now, we will focus on a single deck blackjack strategy, seeing as it is the most common sort of blackjack among us mortals.

When to surrender straightaway?

  • The dealer shows 10, your hand is 15.
  • The dealer has 9 through ace, your hand is 16.

When is the right time to split?

  • Never split tens.
  • The rule of thumb is to split aces.
  • Split your eights.
  • Split your nines against opponents 2 – 9 (except for 7). You should stand otherwise.
  • Split sevens against a hand of 2 – 7. Hit if not so.
  • Split a hand of sixes versus 2 – 6. Hit otherwise.
  • Double a pair of fives against 2 – 9. Hit it if not so.
  • A pair of fours splits versus 5 and 6. Hit otherwise.
  • Split threes against 2 – 7. Hit it otherwise.
  • A pair of twos splits versus 2 – 7. Hit otherwise.

Now, what should your blackjack basic strategy be in case of a soft total?

The hand in question has an ace as one of the first two cards. It counts as 11, and no, an ace is not a face card. Interestingly enough, it’s not one of the value cards as well. It’s simply an ACE – the top card in blackjack.

  • Stand on soft 20 (9+ace).
  • Double on soft 19 versus 6. Stand if not so.
  • Double on soft 18 against 2 – 6. Hit against 9 through ace. Stand otherwise.
  • Double on soft 17 versus 3 – 6. Hit it if not so.
  • Double on soft 16 against 4 – 6. Hit otherwise.
  • Double on soft 15 versus 4 – 6. Hit if not so.
  • Double on soft 14 against 5 – 6. Hit otherwise.
  • Double on soft 13 versus 5 – 6. Hit it otherwise.

Okay, but what about hard totals? What’s the basic strategy?

Any hand that does not start with an ace is called hard total. This also applies when an ace was dealt and can only be counted as 1.

  • Stand on 17 and up.
  • Stand on 16 against 2 – 6. Hit if not so.
  • Stand on 15 versus 2 – 6. Hit otherwise.
  • Stand on 14 against 2 – 6. Hit otherwise.
  • Stand on 13 versus 2 – 6. Hit if not so.
  • Stand on 12 against 4 – 6. Hit otherwise.
  • Double on 11. It’s one of many blackjack strategies, don’t ask.
  • Double on 10 against 2 – 9. Hit otherwise.
  • Double on 9 versus 3 – 6. Hit if not so.
  • Always hit an 8.

I know it can be tedious, but make sure to memorize this. This strategy is way more efficient than anything else, especially in the long run. Do not take any chances and your money will be grateful. Just study the darn hands. Of course, always combine this blackjack strategy in addition to blackjack charts, and house advantage should be reduced to a minimum.

How To Use Blackjack Chart

blackjack strategy chart

No blackjack strategy guide would be complete without us talking about, and using a blackjack strategy chart. They were devised by computer simulations. The basic principle is this: what is the best blackjack basic strategy, when to hit or stand, or make an insurance bet, and on which hand, so that a player loses the least amount of money over a period of time.

Now, here’s the kicker: every blackjack chart hugely depends on the type of dealer you are playing against. For the love of God, no strategy will save a player if he or she forgets to check the rules of a particular casino or the casino blackjack table itself.

What is the number of decks? Is it a single deck blackjack game? What’s the dealer like, when it comes to soft 17? Does he or she hit on soft 17 OR does the dealer stand on soft 17? In this particular blackjack basic strategy, we will use the following blackjack abbreviations, in a single deck blackjack game:

  • S17: Dealer stands on soft 17
  • H17: Dealer hits on soft 17
  • DAS: Doubling down after pair splitting is allowed
  • NDAS: Doubling down after pair splitting is forbidden
  • O/W: Otherwise
  • H: Hit
  • S: Stand
  • D: Double down
  • P: Pair split
  • SU: Surrender hand
  • SUS: Surrender hand if possible, stand if not
  • SUH: Surrender hand if possible, hit if not
  • SUP: Surrender hand if possible, split if not
  • DH: Double down if possible, hit if not
  • DS: Double down

Blackjack Strategy Trainer

What a time to be alive when every single blackjack player can improve on his own, without losing any money at all. There are literally dozens of blackjack strategy trainers, that commonly come in the form of apps. These days, even the poorest, stupidest SOB can learn how to play blackjack decently. Chances are some of the best players I know use this so-called ‘system’.

What they do is teach you how to recognize the tags of each card. One after another, you will be mentally trained to add tags and keep accurate track of cards during your play. I know it looks like a simple trick but this is the best way to learn this super important skill, hands down.

This strategy is by far the easiest, not to mention the cheapest. The trainer usually flashes a couple of cards on your screen, you add and subtract the tags in real-time, and carry over that count to the next group of cards. In the end, you will write down the value of the running count and see how you did (look down in the Card counting section). This is way cooler than being skinned by pros or some local punks. That’s not a strategy, that’s just another page in the book of pure madness.

Of course, some of these basic strategy trainers will teach you how to mentally grasp and remember played hands, or learn to anticipate what kind of a hand another player might have, depending on his or her actions. I encourage players to enrich their blackjack strategy by using these apps. Sure, nothing beats a friend with spare time and energy to teach you those things but honing your blackjack strategy is very much like perfecting any other skill. You will need time to imprint those charts in your head and learn how to respond instinctively. This is your best insurance bet and strategy, all rolled into one. Get them and start practicing.

What Is Card Counting?

best blackjack strategies

Contrary to popular belief, the card counting system does not require a player to memorize the whole blackjack deck. Experienced players know that the deck with lower cards favors the casinos, and those with higher cards give the advantage to players. Again, this is not against the rules nor it is illegal – and casinos know this.

It’s not that hard of a strategy, really. Card counting allows players to estimate the ratio of high-value and low-value cards in a blackjack deck. It’s all about knowing when you have an advantage so you can raise your bets properly and set your strategy for later. Here’s how the system works, in one blackjack example:

The basic strategy instructs players to sign a tag of +1 to every card from 2 to 6, and a tag of -1 to every card from 10 to an ace. Do the counting at the beginning of the game, right after the shuffle. Add the tags to each card pulled from the deck. If the running count is positive after any round, the undealt cards are richer in large value cards. This is when you raise your bet.

If the running count is negative at any given time, your best strategy is to lower your bets. The undealt cards are predominantly of small value. So, you might wonder, is there a strategy to recognize a card counter during a blackjack tournament? Yes, there is a basic strategy, even for that. It’s called using your eyes and ears. You can easily tell if someone relies on card counting simply by observing bets made by that player. By the way, unlike multi-deck games, card counting is particularly easy to spot in a single deck game.

Interesting Facts & Trivia About The Game

  • In a brick-and-mortar casino, blackjack card trays are translucent red as a rule of thumb. This is done to discourage crooks and cheaters since they are infamous for marking cards with ink. Ink marks can be invisible to the naked eye, but they are easy to spot if you are wearing tinted contact lenses or, more commonly, glasses.
  • There is a legal precedent in Atlantic City that forbids the casinos to kick the player out if he or she is counting cards. Before that, every single casino in the city only dealt 8 deck games. Not to mention, they used a fresh deck every hand and employed automatic shuffling machines. Yup, all this trouble just to prevent count cards.
  • Playing online blackjack is a different story. There are no online blackjack strategies that will help players against random number generators. When a ‘dealer’ hits you, it’s always another, fresh virtual deck of cards, so no counting cards here either. Your hand is what you got.

blackjack perfect strategy

Blackjack Strategy Summary

Let’s get one thing straight – there is no such thing as the perfect blackjack strategy. The whole point of this article is to help grasp the concept and not lose money. If you aspire to be a serious player, learning those blackjack charts and card counting is a must. Also, try and avoid multi-deck blackjack games if possible. Deploy every single blackjack strategy known to man. Go for single-deck games, be a focused player that doesn’t drink and/or do drugs, apply the strategy and you might be on top one day.

It takes a lot of practice and patience. Be like my bro John – cool as a fridge in the middle of the South Pole. Essentially, your mind and your hand are all you got when you play blackjack. Examine the game, players, the live casino gamble, and the dealer, too. Also, I cannot stress enough how important the ‘hit soft 17’ issue is. This is the core of your blackjack strategy. Of course, use the blackjack basic strategy chart just to be on the safe side, but charts won’t get you far. You must be in the da zone all the way.

Hope our blackjack strategy guide served its purpose. Now go and use it! Play blackjack with your mind, stay composed and let that casino dealer have it. We got you, Bro!


Lilly is all wit, sass, and barely enough class. Her sense of entitlement probably stems from the fact that she’s proud and Australian, but her self-deprecating brain balances things out. Even though she has a tendency to ramble on about her own problems in her casino reviews, she leaves no stone unturned. An absolute slot games icon and a much-needed feminine touch to a macho gambling industry.

Scroll to Top