Blackjack Strategy

Written by: Joe Falchetti , Expert in Online Casinos, Sports Betting, and Poker

Blackjack strategies help you gain an edge and win more hands. The goal is simple: get a higher total than the dealer without exceeding 21. With the proper knowledge, you can turn the odds in your favor.

In this comprehensive blackjack strategy guide, I’ll cover everything you need to enhance your gameplay. I’ll go over essential tips, practical tips, advanced techniques, and common mistakes to avoid.

Let’s get started!

Table of Contents

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Understanding the Basics of Blackjack

Blackjack is a card game where the goal is to have a hand value closer to 21 than the dealer’s without exceeding 21.

The value of cards is straightforward: numbered cards are worth their face value, face cards (King, Queen, Jack) are worth 10, and Aces can be worth either 1 or 11, depending on which is more advantageous for the hand.

The game begins with players deciding whether to “hit” (take another card) or “stand” (keep their current hand).

Players can continue hitting until they choose to stand or their hand exceeds 21, resulting in a bust. The dealer then reveals their face-down card and must hit until their hand is at least 17.

If the dealer busts, all remaining players win. If not, the player with a hand value closer to 21 than the dealer wins.

Basic Blackjack Strategy

At the basic level, blackjack is a game of math and statistics. A running formula can determine the best play for every turn.

A basic strategy chart is a visual guide that shows the optimal decision for every possible hand combination against the dealer’s upcard. This chart helps players minimize the house edge and make the best choices on hitting, standing, double down, or splitting.

Gamblers rely on these main actions to win against the dealer. Learn more about them to identify when to take any of them.

Hit or Stand

A hit is when you take another card to improve your hand. But if you like the cards you have, then you stand and don’t take any more cards.

Pro Tip: Always hit if your hand is 8 or lower, as you can’t bust. Stand if you have 17 or higher, as the risk of busting is too great.


You can split if you receive two cards of the same rank. This divides the two cards into separate hands. You could also re-split, giving you three hands to play.

Pro Tip: Split pairs of Aces and 8s; Aces give you a chance for two strong hands while splitting 8s avoids a poor hand of 16.


Your next choice may be to double down, which means you double your bet after the initial deal if you think you can win with the next card.

Pro Tip: Double down on a hard 11, as the odds of hitting 21 or close to it are high.


Some tables offer this option after the initial deal. If you think you have little chance of winning, you can surrender your hand and keep half of your bet.

Pro Tip: Surrender when you have a hard 16 against a dealer’s 9, 10, or Ace, as the chances of winning are very low.

Blackjack Strategy Chart

Using this blackjack strategy chart will give you the correct play in any situation. So, before you practice your first hand, print or screenshot our free strategy table.

Blackjack Strategy Card

How to Read the Card

This blackjack strategy table has your starting hand in the left column and the dealer’s first card in the top row. You can find the best play for each hand in the spot where the two cross on the chart.

  • hit Hit means to take a single additional card.
  • double Double means to double down. This move doubles your wager.
  • stand Stand means take no more cards.
  • split Splitting creates two hands from a pair. This move also doubles your wager.
  • hard hand The H stands for a hard hand. So, H5 is a three and a two.
  • soft hand The S is a soft hand where an ace is 11. When the ace is a one, you have a hard hand.

How to Use the Chart as a Cheat Sheet

You can use this blackjack chart as a cheat sheet to play strategically. But, how does it work? Here’s an example: if you have a six and a seven, and the dealer shows a seven, you should do the following:

  1. 6 + 7 = 13, so you go down the chart’s left side and look for H13 (This hand is “hard” since no ace has an 11 value).

  2. Move across the row to where the dealer has a 7, and you see the correct play is to Hit. Notice that if the dealer had a 6 instead of a 7, the right choice is to stand.

Blackjack Strategy for Each Hand

Here are all the best blackjack strategies based on the statistics. If you follow these rules, you’ll reduce the house edge and have a better chance of winning at online casinos.

Below are the hands you’ll see most often. Use this guide to determine when to hit, stand, split, and double.

When to Split Pairs

  • Pair of 2s, 3s, or 7s: Split against a dealer 7 or lower, and Hit against an 8 or higher.
  • Pair of 4s: Split against a dealer 5 or 6, and Hit against anything else.
  • Pair of 5s: Don’t Split. Instead, double against a 2-9, and Hit against a 10 or Ace.
  • Pair of 6s: Split against a dealer 6 or lower, and Hit against a 7 or higher.
  • Pair of 8s: Split against a dealer 9 or lower, and Hit against a 10 or Ace.
  • Pair of 9s: Stand against a dealer 7, 10, or Ace, and Split against all other cards.
  • Pair of 10s: Always stand with these hands regardless of the dealer’s cards.
  • Pair of Aces: Always split these hands regardless of the dealer’s cards.

If You Can’t Double After Splitting

  • Pair of 2s or 3s: Hit if the dealer shows a 2 or 3.
  • Pair of 4s: Hit if the dealer has a 5 or 6.
  • Pair of 6s: Hit if the dealer has a 2.

Hard Hand Decisions

  • Hard 5, 6, 7, or 8: Always hit these hands regardless of the dealer’s cards.
  • Hard 9: Double Down if the dealer has a 3, 4, 5, or 6. Otherwise, you Hit.
  • Hard 10: Double Down unless the dealer shows a 10 or Ace, then you Hit.
  • Hard 11: Double Down unless the dealer has an Ace up, then you Hit.
  • Hard 12: Stand against a dealer’s 4, 5, or 6, and Hit against all other cards.
  • Hard 13, 14, 15, or 16: Stand against a dealer 2 through 6 and Hit against a 7 or higher.
  • Hard 17+: Always stand with these hands regardless of the dealer’s cards.

Soft Hand Plays

  • Soft 13 or 14: Double against a dealer 5 or 6 and Hit against all other cards.
  • Soft 15 or 16: Double against a dealer 4, 5, or 6, and Hit against all other cards.
  • Soft 17: Double against a dealer 3 through 6 and Hit against all other cards.
  • Soft 18: Stand against a 2, 7, or 8, Double against a 3-6, and Hit against a 9, 10, or Ace.
  • Soft 19 or 20: Always stand with these hands regardless of the dealer’s cards.

Hand Surrender Strategy

  • Hard 15: Surrender if the dealer shows a 10.
  • Hard 16: Surrender if the dealer shows a 9, 10, or Ace.

Using Betting Systems As Your Strategy

Understanding betting system will help you establish a good strategy when playing. For example, you can adjust bets based on wins and losses. This approach can help manage your bankroll and take advantage of winning streaks.

Based on my experience, these are the most popular betting systems and their pros and cons.

Flat Betting

You bet the same amount on every hand, regardless of wins or losses.

  • Pros: Simple and easy to manage. It helps control bankroll.
  • Cons: Limited potential for big wins, slower bankroll growth.

Martingale System

You double your bet after every loss until you win.

  • Pros: Can recover losses quickly and achieve small profits.
  • Cons: Risky and can lead to large losses quickly if you hit a losing streak.

Paroli System

You double your bet after every win, resetting after a loss.

  • Pros: Takes advantage of winning streaks and limits losses.
  • Cons: This can result in losing profits quickly if you hit a losing streak after a win.

The Best Strategic Blackjack Tips

Remember, the rules may vary from one blackjack table to another. Here are some tips you should take into account when playing for real money.

  1. Stick to Your Budget:

    Set a budget for each session and never exceed it. This helps manage your bankroll and prevents overspending.
  2. Use Basic Strategy:

    Always follow the basic strategy chart to make optimal decisions for each hand. This reduces the house’s edge and improves your chances of winning.
  3. Avoid Side Bets:

    Side bets usually have a high house edge. While they might be fun, they are not favorable in the long run.
  4. Take Breaks:

    Regular breaks help you stay focused and avoid fatigue, leading to better decision-making.
  5. Don’t Chase Losses:

    Avoid the temptation to increase your bets to recover losses. Stick to your strategy and betting limits.
  6. Stay Focused:

    Alcohol and distractions can impair your judgment. Stay focused to make the best decisions.

Online Blackjack Strategy

Blackjack Games Icon Big

The strategy for online blackjack is slightly different than the one you would implement at brick-and-mortar casinos. When playing at real money casinos, make sure to add these additional strategies to your arsenal:

  • Lower Limits

    Low-limit blackjack games allow you to practice and gauge money flow without spending a lot.
  • Better Rules

    Many online casinos offer more than the standard version of blackjack. Some have special side bets for unique card combinations.
  • Avoid Counting Cards

    At online tables, the game programs shuffle more frequently than at land-based casinos. Counting cards is not helpful. The exception would be live dealer blackjack games.
  • Online Blackjack is Faster

    Blackjack games online move faster because of technology, and there are generally fewer players. You can get twice as many deals with digital games.

Advanced Blackjack Strategy

The following advanced blackjack strategies can help you play through streaks and better manage money.

Once you’re comfortable with basic strategy, consider learning advanced techniques like card counting. This can further improve your odds of winning.

Card Counting

Card counting assigns a value to each card in an attempt to predict the next card in line. We have an entire page dedicated to counting cards in blackjack.

Remember, without a basic strategy, counting cards is useless.

Most online casino software shuffles after each hand, making card counting impossible. These tactics should be reserved for live dealer online games or brick-and-mortar casinos.

Martingale Betting Strategy

This involves doubling your bet after losing and reverting to your original wager after winning.

For instance, if you lose $1 on your first hand, you bet $2 on your next. If you lose the second, bet $4 on the next hand, and so on. Then after you win, you return to your original $1 bet. If you play this system, be aware of the table betting limits and bring a lot of money to play in losing streaks.

Play in Tables With Fewer Decks 

Blackjack has one of the best odds of all casino games. With the right rules and proper gameplay, you can reduce the house edge to below 1%.

The house edge is a percentage of what players will lose over time. Tables with smaller decks and 3:2 blackjack payouts have a better player advantage. You have the best odds when you play with fewer decks in the shoe.

Ace Sequencing

Ace sequencing is related to shuffle tracking. This technique tries to determine when the aces will be dealt. The idea is to remember “key cards” that go on top of the ace in the discard rack, and after the shuffle when you see those key cards come out together you make a large bet hoping to catch the ace. 

If you start tracking the number of Aces played versus the number of cards left, you have a better idea of when one is coming up.

Common Mistakes to Avoid in Blackjack

  • Ignoring Basic Strategy: Not following the strategy chart increases the house’s edge and leads to poor decisions.
  • Overestimating Card Counting: Relying solely on card counting without mastering basic strategy can result in mistakes and losses.
  • Chasing Losses: Increasing bets to recover losses often leads to larger losses. Stick to your betting limits.
  • Taking Insurance: Generally, a bad bet that rarely pays off and increases the house’s edge.
  • Playing When Tired or Distracted: Fatigue and distractions lead to poor decisions. Stay focused and well-rested.
  • Not Managing Bankroll: Failing to set and stick to a budget can result in overspending and significant losses.
  • Misunderstanding Game Rules: Not fully understanding the rules can lead to costly mistakes. Learn the specific rules of the game you’re playing.

Best Blackjack Tips from Today’s Experts

Blackjack is one of the most popular games in the gambling industry. If you’re a blackjack fan, you’ll find numerous books about it and even broadcast tournaments showcasing top players and even learning from them.

Here, I share some of the most popular tips from today’s blackjack experts.

The first step to becoming a winning blackjack player is to learn the basic strategy. This will give you the foundation you need to minimize the house edge and make the best decisions at the table.

Arnold Snyder, author of “The Blackjack Formula”

If you want to consistently win at blackjack, you need to follow the basic strategy chart and practice disciplined bankroll management. These are the two most important aspects of a successful blackjack strategy.

Ed Thorp, author of “Beat the Dealer”

Use This Blackjack Strategy Guide to Win More Often

Take advantage of this expert blackjack strategy guide and win big! Employ our advice, gain experience, and be patient. Our blackjack chart will give you excellent insights to make the most out of your gameplay. You can even use it at tables in Las Vegas.

Sign up at the top-rated DuckyLuck Casino today to start practicing. They have an excellent selection of games and reliable banking methods with no fees.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of the questions players ask us about blackjack strategy.

What is the best strategy for blackjack online?

The best strategy for online blackjack is to follow the chart strictly. It tells you the best times to hit, stand, and double down, based on the game’s statistics.

Can you really win more money online by using a basic blackjack strategy?

Yes, you can win more online using a basic black strategy. Remember, the percentage balances out over a long time and many hands. Manage your bankroll to give yourself the best shot.

Are blackjack strategy cards allowed in casinos?

Yes, strategy cards are allowed in casinos.

Joe Falchetti

Joe Falchetti Expert in Online Casinos, Sports Betting, and Poker

Joe Falchetti, aka Smokey Joe, is a former professional poker player who has been a part of the online gambling and sports betting world for almost two decades. He's a full-time sports bettor and specialized writer featured in CBS Sports and and linked to by the New York Times.

Learn More About Joe