when to hit, stand, split, double down, surrender or take insurance
forms the "Basic Strategy" of Blackjack.
Despite the name, there is nothing
basic about it - this is a set of rules worked out by thorough statistical
analisys. For each combination of cards the Basic Strategy suggests the move
that will result in the highest chance of winning money over the long term.
Basic Strategy is most effective when you adhere to all of its rules
strictly and consistently.
For example, Splitting and Doubling Down are just
as crucial to your game as Hitting and Standing.
The most crucial deciding factor for your strategy with a given hand is the
dealer's up card, so look at that first.
Any hand with 11 or less points can be hit safely without going bust. So
always hit any hand of 11 or less points. However sometimes these hands
should be split or doubled down on.
Also remember that when you are dealt an Ace, you can use it as a 1 or
11-value card and can change that during the play.
Never hit a hand with a value of 17 points or greater. The only exception to
this is a "soft 17" where an Ace card is included and has been counted as
11 to create the total.
Hitting and Standing
The basic hitting and standing strategy is:
If you have 12 to 16 you should either:
- Hit anything below 12
- Stand on anything above 16
- Hit if the dealer's card is between 7 and Ace (11).
- Stand if the dealer's up card is below 7
Hitting and Standing with Soft Totals
Soft totals are made up out of an Ace and another
value card(s). (If you recall, an Ace can be counted as 1 or 11.)
If you have an ace in your hand but no 10 value card:
- Hit if the soft total is 17 or less
- Double if the soft total is 17 or less and the dealer has a 4, 5 or
- Stand with soft total of 19 or 20
We covered the doubling down strategy for a soft
total in the section above. The basic strategy for making the decision to
double down should be:
- Never double if your hand totals less than 8
- Always double down on 11
- If you have 10, double down if the dealer has 2 to 9.
The basic rules for splitting are:
- Always split 8s and Aces
- Never split 4s, 5s and 10 value cards