Archive for the 'Basic Strategy' Category

Basic Strategy Lesson 2 Thursday, May 1st, 2008

Since I covered Vegas Strip Basic Strategy a few days ago I felt it was time for another Basic Strategy Lesson. This time I’ll be talking about Basic Strategy for European Rules Blackjack at You might remember that European Rules Blackjack is one of the variants of Blackjack that is offered by

The Rules for European Rules Blackjack offered by GoldenCasino are:

  • Dealer Stands on all 17s.
  • Pairs can be Split.
  • Doubling is allowed on hand values of 9, 10 and 11.
  • Doubling after a split is allowed on hand values of 9, 10, and 11.
  • Aces can only be split once.
  • Insurance is available when the dealer shows an Ace.
  • Dealer does not check for Blackjack.
  • Surrender is not available.
  • Blackjack Basic Strategy Chart

    Your Hand Dealer’s Upcard
      2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A
    7 H H H H H H H H H H
    8 H H H H H H H H H H
    9 H D D D D H H H H H
    10 D D D D D D D D H H
    11 D D D D D D D D H H
    12 H H S S S H H H H H
    13 S S S S S H H H H H
    14 S S S S S H H H H H
    15 S S S S S H H H H H
    16 S S S S S H H H H H
    17 S S S S S S S S S S
    A,2 H H H H H H H H H H
    A,3 H H H H H H H H H H
    A,4 H H H H H H H H H H
    A,5 H H H H H H H H H H
    A,6 H H H H H H H H H H
    A,7 S S S S S S S H H H
    A,8 S S S S S S S S S S
    A,9 S S S S S S S S S S
    2,2 P P P P P P H H H H
    3,3 P P P P P P H H H H
    4,4 H H H P P H H H H H
    5,5 D D D D D D D D H H
    6,6 P P P P P H H H H H
    7,7 P P P P P P H H H H
    8,8 P P P P P P P P H H
    9,9 P P P P P S P P S S
    T,T S S S S S S S S S S
    A,A P P P P P P P P P H
    Dealer 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A
    H = Hit S = Stand P = Split
    D = Double (hit if not allowed)

Basic Strategy Lesson 1 Friday, April 25th, 2008

Alright I thought I would start my Basic Strategy lessons with the basic strategy that I am using when I play online. I currently play at and I am playing the Vegas Strip Blackjack Game. has a few variants of Blackjack available including Perfect Pairs, European Rules, and a Progressive Blackjack game. I decided to play the Vegas Strip Blackjack as it has similar rules to what I might find in Las Vegas.

Vegas Strip Blackjack has the dealer standing on all 17’s, doubling is allowed on all values and after splits, there is no surrender option and the dealer does peak to check for Blackjack. Now that we know the rules for the game we can select the right Blackjack Basic Strategy and being play.

Basic Strategy for Vegas Strip Blackjack.

8 decks, S17, DAS, No Surrender, Peek
Estimated casino edge for these rules: 0.47 %
Dealer Upcard
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A
7 H H H H H H H H H H
8 H H H H H H H H H H
9 H D D D D H H H H H
10 D D D D D D D D H H
11 D D D D D D D D D H
12 H H S S S H H H H H
13 S S S S S H H H H H
14 S S S S S H H H H H
15 S S S S S H H H H H
16 S S S S S H H H H H
17 S S S S S S S S S S
A,2 H H H D D H H H H H
A,3 H H H D D H H H H H
A,4 H H D D D H H H H H
A,5 H H D D D H H H H H
A,6 H D D D D H H H H H
A,8 S S S S S S S S S S
A,9 S S S S S S S S S S
2,2 P P P P P P H H H H
3,3 P P P P P P H H H H
4,4 H H H P P H H H H H
5,5 D D D D D D D D H H
6,6 P P P P P H H H H H
7,7 P P P P P P H H H H
8,8 P P P P P P P P P P
9,9 P P P P P S P P S S
Dlr 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A
H = Hit S = Stand P = Split
D = Double (hit if not allowed)
DS = Double (stand if not allowed)

Basic Strategy Results Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

I thought I would provide an update on my play now that I’ve started using Basic Strategy. Let me say that it is pretty exciting to be winning more often than not now. Now there are certainly times that I feel the Basic Strategy goes against my judgment and a lot of the times I end up busting or the dealer beats me in these cases, but I know that using the blackjack strategy is a far better move in the long run than relying on my judgment, which in most cases is just a guess or a feeling.
This is the hardest part of getting used to using Basic Strategy. You are putting the out come of your hands in the hands of a chart. Those little letters are ultimately responsible for your play. Even though I know that each Blackjack Strategy has been vetted by many Blackjack professionals and academics numerous times over the years, it is still hard to rely on a chart filled with letters but when you do it is easy to see the results right away.

I wish I had a trick to share when it comes to memorizing the Basic Strategy Chart but sadly I don’t. I’ve been playing game after game and slowly but surely I am committing the chart to memory. If anyone has any tricks to memorizing the charts I would love to hear them.

Update to Card Counting Post Friday, April 18th, 2008

It seems that card counting online doesn’t work as the deck is essentially shuffled after each deal. This means that all the cards are in play for every hand making card counting useless. In land based casino’s this would be equivalent to playing at a table that uses a constant shuffle machine. I think I’ll do a post on these neat little machines in the near future.

Unfortunately this also means that you cannot use an online casino as a training ground to practice your counting skills. There are however computer programs that people have written specifically for people to use to practice their counting skills with.

Card Counting Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

Did you know that card counting has nothing to do with counting the number of cards played and memorizing those cards? I didn’t!

I honestly thought that a card counter tracked the number and types of cards played by memorizing the number of each card played. In my world a card counter literally new that 3 tens, 1 queen, 3 5s etc had already been played, but in reality card counting has nothing to do with memorizing which cards have been played.

I’m sorry to tell any card counters out there that I am just a little less impressed with your skills than I was only yesterday. Yesterday you were Blackjack Idols with the memories that were closer to computers than anything else. Today you are just Blackjack Idols with impressive skills… sorry :)

In case there is anyone like me that has no idea what card counting is I’ll explain it like I did with Basic Strategy.

There are a number of different card counting strategies available but I’ve only looked at two of them, the Hi-Low system and the Wizard Ace/Five system.

The Hi-Low system is the most basic of the card counting systems. Each card is assigned either a +1, -1 or 0 value to it. As each card is dealt you will either add (+1), subtract (-1), or do nothing to a running count in your head and adjust your wagers based on this count.

The cards valued 2 through 6 as assigned a value of +1.
Ten valued cards (including Faces and Aces) are assigned a value of -1.
The cards 7, 8, and 9 are assigned a value of 0.

Using this distribution when a full deck has been dealt your running count should be zero as there are an equal number of +1 valued cards and -1 valued cards.

So to use this system you would wait until a new deck(s) is introduced at the table and add the appropriate value to your count (which starts at zero) as each card is dealt.
As an example I just started a hand and the cards dealt to me were 5 and 2 and the dealer has an Ace as their face up card. The count would look like this +1 for the five, +1 for the two and -1 for the Ace so my current running count is +1 (1+1-1=1). I take another card and I am dealt a 4 which changes the count to +2. Again I take another card which is a King, which bring my count back to +1. Since the King gives me 21 it is the deals turn and I get to see what cards the dealer has and will get. Their hole card was a 4 and they drew a 9 and 10. So with these cards there is no change in my running count because the 4 is worth +1, The 9 is worth 0 and the 10 is worth -1 (1+0-1=0). This means after the first hand my running count is at +1 which means that there are a more 10 valued cards in the deck and I should increase my wager as I am now more likely to be dealt a Blackjack than I was on the last hand.

Here is how my second hand worked out.
Player: 4, 2, Q, (+1)
Dealer: 5, 6, 3, 6 (+4)
New running count total: (+6)

Well thats all for my first post on Card Counting. In my next post I will discuss a simple card counting system called the Wizard Ace/Five.

Basic Strategy Primer Monday, April 7th, 2008

Blackjack Basic Strategy has been tested both in the real world and in the theoretical world and it has been proven time and time again to be an effective strategy to lower the casino’s edge over the player. With this in mind I would like to present a basic primer on Blackjack Basic Strategy, how to use it and how it will affect your game.

The Goal of any strategy is to improve your odds of winning. Basic Strategy does this by providing a set of rules that you as the player will follow. These rules will dictate your play, when you should hit, stand, split, double etc. When you follow these rules exactly and play what is known as perfect strategy you can reduce the casino’s (or house) edge down to about one half of a percent, that is 0.5%!

Unfortunately there is not just one Basic Strategy that will cover all variants of Blackjack, there is one Basic Strategy that has been developed for each different variant of Blackjack. This means that you will need to play the same variant of Blackjack every time you goto the casino or you will need to learn a number of strategies that will cover the types of blackjack that you might play. Luckily casino’s don’t mind the use of Basic Strategy trainer cards at the tables as long as you do not rely solely on the card for each and every hand.

Here is an example of Basic Strategy explained in detail. Future Basic Strategy post will contain a Basic Strategy Trainer Card or Chart.

Soft Hands: Soft hands are hands that contain an Ace.

If your starting hand is:
Ace, 2 or Ace, 3 - If the dealer’s hand shows a 5 or 6 Double otherwise hit.
Ace, 4, or Ace, 5 - If the dealer’s hand shows 4 - 6 Double otherwise hit.
Ace, 6 - If the dealer’s hand shows 3 - 6 Double otherwise hit.
Ace, 7 - If the dealer’s hand shows a 2, 7, or 8 Double 3 -6 otherwise hit.
Ace, 8 or Ace, 9 - Always Stand.

Hard Hands: Hard hands are hand that do not contain an Ace.

If your starting hand is:
8 or less - Always hit.
9 - If the dealer’s hand shows a 3 - 6 Double, otherwise hit.
10 - If the dealer’s hand shows a 2 - 9 Double, otherwise hit.
11 - If the dealer’s hand shows a 2 - 10 Double, otherwise hi if the dealer shows an Ace.
13 - 16 - If the dealer’s hand shows a 2 - 6 Stand, otherwise hit.
17 - 21 - Always stand.


If you starting hand is:
Aces or 8s - Always Split
2 or 3s- If the dealer’s hand shows a 2 - 7 Split, otherwise hit.
4s - If the dealer’s hand shows a 5 or 6 Split, otherwise hit.
5s - If the dealer’s hand shows 2 - 9 Double, otherwise hit.
6s - If the dealer’s hand shows 2 - 6 Split, otherwise hit.
7s - If the dealer’s hand shows 2 - 7 Split, otherwise hit.
9s - If the dealer’s hand shows 2 - 6, 8 or 9 Split, if the dealer shows a 7, 10 or Ace Stand.
10s - Always Stand.

Soft Hands Friday, April 4th, 2008

In Blackjack there are two types of hands, Soft Hands and Hard Hands. Hard hands are very straight forward the value of the hand is the value of the cards in that hand. A hand that contains a 10 and a 8 is an 18. A soft hand is a hand that contains an Ace. If you remember from earlier I mentioned that an Ace can have a value of One (1) or Eleven (11) what this means is that a hand that contains an Ace and a 8 could be valued at 19 (11+8) or 9 (1+8). Now it might seem obvious in this example that you would want to value the Ace as 11 and have a hand of 19, which would be the correct thing to do. However lets assume you had
an Ace, 7 which is pretty good hand at 18, however according to Basic Strategy if the dealers up card is a 9, 10 or Ace you will need to hit. In this case any card higher than a 3 would bust your hand if it was a hard 18, the Ace in the soft 18 however would convert to a value of one and the hand would not bust.
For an Example lets say the card the hand recieved was a 5. Our hand of 18 if the Ace was valued at 11 would bust as adding 5 to 18 = 23. Since the hand would bust with the Ace valued at 11, the ace will be valued at 1 which means out new hand total is 13 (1+7+5).

It is almost like the soft hand is giving the player a second chance if the hit delivers a less than ideal card.

A detailed look at play in Blackjack Thursday, April 3rd, 2008

When you step up to a blackjack table you will notice that the table has a half circle shape with the dealer standing in the middle of the table on the flat side. The players will be positioned around the curved edge of the table facing the dealer. Most Blackjack tables can accommodate 7 players. A hand of Blackjack begins with each player placing their wager for the next hand on the table in the designated spot in front of them. Once all the wagers have been placed the dealer will begin dealing out the cards starting with the player to the dealer’s immediate left and working around the table and ending with themselves.
After everyone has received one card the dealer will deal the second card to everyone at the table. The dealer will deal the first card face up including their first card. The second card will also be deal face up except for the dealer’s second card which will be dealt face down, this card is called the hole card. Once the deal has been completed the dealer will return to the player on their left and ask if they would like to hit (take a card), stand (take no card). There are other options like doubling, splitting, insurance and surrender that will be covered in another post. The player will indicate to the dealer what they would like to do.
If a player hits the dealer will deal another card face up, if the hand total has not exceeded 21 the player can take another card and continue to do so until they bust.
At any time the player can stand which means they do not want another card and the dealer will move to the next player and this will continue until all player hands have been played.
Once the player portion of the hand is completed the dealer will reveal their hole card and will hit until the hand is equal or greater than 17. Generally the dealer will stand on all 17s but at some tables the dealer may hit on a soft 17. A soft 17 is a hand that contains an Ace. The table will have the rules written on it so you will know if the dealer stands on all 17s or if they hit soft 17s.
When the dealer phase of the hand is over the dealer will collect money from busted hands, losing hands, Payoff hands that have one and return the wager of tied hand. This last action is called a ‘Push’.
The hand is completed with the dealer collecting the played cards and discarding them in the card disposal slot. At this point the next hand begins and the sequence starts over again.

Blackjack Basics Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008

Alright perhaps I should have started with this post instead of waiting so long. Since I am learning to play Blackjack there are probably a few other people out there that don’t know how to play this fun game and would like to start but do not know where to begin. Let me fill you in with the basics of Blackjack.

There are many different variations of Blackjack and all have subtly different rules but the basics of the game remain the same for all these variants. This is what I going to cover in this post, the basics of Blackjack.

The game of Blackjack is very simple and can be quickly summarized in a few quick points:

  • Each player is dealt two cards, usually face up.
  • The dealer is dealt two cards, usually one face up and one face down (hole card).
  • Each player in turn will decide which action they wish to take regarding thier hand.
    • Hit - To take another card
    • Stand - To stay with the current hand
    • Double - To double the wager and hit only one card .
    • Split - To separate a pair into two separate hands, requires an additional wager equal to the first.
    • Surrender - To fold the had and give up have of your wager (not always available).
  • The goal is to get you hand total as close to twenty-one without going over while beating the dealers hand.

That in a nutshell is the game of Blackjack. Of course actual game play is a little more complicated but not much more. The first question I had was, “How are hand values calculated?” It is pretty straight forward, the value of card is determined by it’s face. A 2 of clubs would be worth 2, a 10 of diamond is worth 10.
Face cards like the Jack, Queen and King are also worth 10. The Ace is a little tricky as it is worth either 1 or 11 depending on whether your hand would bust with the Ace being worth 11. I’ll explain the Ace later on in a detailed post on soft hands.

Basic Strategy Tuesday, March 25th, 2008

Basic Strategy, from the name you might expect a strategy that is simple, easy to use and provides very little benefit to your game play. At least those were the thoughts that came to mind when I first read about Basic Strategy for Blackjack. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Now I suppose compared to other strategies like card counting, Basic Strategy is pretty easy and simple to use. However for someone trying to learn them, they can be quite complicated.
First I have to worry about how many decks are being used, does the dealer hit or stand on soft 17’s, is early surrender available (to list only a few options).
Once I know these I have to pick the appropriate Basic strategy to use as each variant of Blackjack has it’s own Basic Strategy.

To make things easier for myself and for other I have decided that I will cover Basic Strategy in detail. I will post a Basic Strategy chart for each variant and explain which each chart means. This way I and my readers will be able to quickly find the appropriate chart for their chosen blackjack variant.

The best thing about Basic Strategy is that you can take a basic strategy chart with you to the casino blackjack table and use it as a reference for when you suffer a memory lapse :) One piece of advice that I have been told and it sounds like a good piece of advice so I will pass it along. Do not rely on your basic strategy chart at a table, if you slow down play at the table not only will be hurting the dealer (they have to deal a certain number of hands per hour) you will be asked to stop using the chart or leave the table. Remember to treat it as a “reference” chart and not a step by step guide.