Basic Blackjack Strategy

Blackjack’s rich heritage stretches all the way back to the start of the 17th century, when legendary Don Quixote author Miguel de Cervantes wrote about a 21-style card game. Since then, the concept of playing to the lucky number 21 with cards has evolved to become the blackjack game we know today. Here is a basic introduction to its basic strategy.

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Understanding Blackjack Rules

Before we go over the time tested basic techniques for this game (called literally Blackjack’s Basic Strategy), we shall review its fundamental rules and gameplay. Firstly, your typical online casino will use up to eight decks of 52 virtual playing cards in a blackjack game.

Blackjack Gameplay

From the entire deck, all numbered cards are equal to their value for the scoring (therefore, a seven card is valued as 7). All face cards are then worth 10 points, while you have the option to play an ace as either 1 or 11. Therefore an Ace and a face card is the only way to have ‘natural blackjack’ (with only two cards).

To say that hitting 21 is the object of blackjack is incorrect. Admittedly, you are highly likely to win with 21 (unless the dealer has it, too), but this only serves to distract from your actual objective:

hold a higher score than the dealer
without your hand going above 21.

This is what you need to bear in mind for all blackjack basic strategy UK games have as their basis (or those anywhere else). You can have more success at winning by building upon this core principle. Blackjack is a suspenseful and intense form of gambling with cards, which is nevertheless based upon simple, elemental rules.

Basic Blackjack Moves

You want to know how to win at blackjack? Well, the top blackjack rules UK players who are new to the game want to learn are related to learning the best way to play out each hand. In other words, this is the relation between strategy and the game’s relatively simple rules.

Before we outline all your potential moves, you first need to know that the dealer must draw cards until reaching 17 and then Stand (stop drawing). That is a crucial rule because it is to the player’s advantage, since the player has no such requirement. However, the dealer’s advantage is having one ‘hole’ card, which is turned down and not seen by players.

Now it is time to cover gameplay options that you have after placing your initial stake:

Stand – After receiving the first two default cards, you decide whether or not to stay with your current score, or ‘Stand’ with it (and not receive any extra cards).

Hit – You have two first cards in your hand, but can decide to take extra cards to increase your score. Each new card is a ‘hit’. Yet if you go higher than 21 then you will be declared ‘bust’, meaning that you have lost to the dealer.

Advanced Moves

Double Down – Exercising this option doubles your initial stake, then you receive only one extra card and stand pat with your score (no matter what it is).

Split – Having any pair (especially  two Aces) will entitle you to double your stake by making two equal hands based upon those two cards. At that point each of the hands will receive an extra card and function independently. You continue playing each hand on their own. (Some casinos will let you keep splitting into up to four hands.)

Surrender (Fold) – Although this is usually a rare move, it is possible to sacrifice half of your stake to give up a poor hand. This will not be permitted in every blackjack game, but if it is (only just after receiving your default cards) folding can be one of the smartest things to do, provided you know when. And that is based upon Basic Strategy (read on!).

Learn the Basics of Strategy

There are a multitude of statistics that can help you learn how to win at blackjack, by informing you about the best move in any given situation. That is, with any particular cards (your two against the dealer’s one up card) there is a best move with respect to probabilities, always relative to the dealer’s best possible hand.

Accepted Blackjack Wisdom

Knowing the statistics as a whole is how the top players decide which of the moves above to use at any given moment. These best practices, all together, are referred to as Basic Strategy. Now, if only you could memorise the entire set of statistics!

Fortunately, the most successful players have created helpful charts that map out the entire Basic Strategy as a grid along with its few bulleted rules to remember, such as, ‘always split Aces and 8s’, or, ‘always double down on 11 (except against an Ace).’

STRATEGY TIP
Search online for ‘Blackjack Basic Strategy’
(use the Images search filter) and then
choose a chart that makes sense.

Playing Against the Game of Blackjack

The truth is that a player’s opponent is not the dealer, however, the dealer represents the game itself, which is the actual adversary. Dealers do not use any strategy trying to win, but just carry out essential gameplay functions.

You must always consider the value of the dealer’s card that is showing. Should it be a 10 or Ace then the dealer’s position is as strong as it can be. Hitting until 17 or higher is the best basic blackjack strategy generally. 19-21 for the player is considered strong.

Blackjack is a game of patience and winning during the long haul of many hands, using near perfect strategy. Perhaps one of the most challenging plays, for example, is standing pat on decent cards when the dealer has a poor hand (anything up to 7 showing) since this usually means the dealer will go bust. Anything a player has in that case will win: this is the essence of Blackjack, as opposed to needing 21 or close to it on every hand.

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