Blackjack strategy


You can use strategy in blackjack to your advantage but first you need to understand the basics of the game. When you play the game, you will have have table mates at your table but you need to understand that the goal of the game is not to beat the players at the table but to beat the house, or the dealer. Because all players at the table have the same goal, it is possible for more than one person to win in one round.

The game is often referred to as ’21’ because the main goal is to get a value that is closest to 21 and nothing over. So, ideally you want a natural 21, which means that your cards are not over or under this value. If you get under 21, you want the value of your cards to be as close to 21 as possible. If it’s closer to 21 than the dealer’s cards, you win. The hands of the table mates are irrelevant because you are playing against the dealer only.

Every card in a deck has a value. If your card is a 4 of spades, it will count as a 4. The face cards count 10 and the ace can be either 1 or 11, you decide. The suit of the card is irrelevant.


The minimum and maximum bets are clearly visible at a blackjack table. Players will need to place bets before the dealer deals. Once the bets have been placed, the dealer will deal in a clockwise rotation. The last card dealt will be for the dealer.

The cards that is dealt in the first round is face-up. The dealer will then deal the second rounds, face-down. The face-up cards should not be touched. Should the table have one deck, the cards will generally be dealt face-down and if this is the scenario, you will be able to touch your cards.

So, if your first two cards are a 10 or face card and a ace, you have a natural 21, also referred to as ‘blackjack’. If the dealer does not have a ‘blackjack’, you win and receive 1.5 times the amount of your bet. Should you both have natural 21’s, it is a tie and you keep your bet. If only the dealer has a 21, he will win and you will lose the amount you wagered.

The game begins with the person on the left of the dealer. When it is your turn, you will need to decide whether you would like to ‘stand’ or ‘hit’.

  • Stand – not asking for another card
  • Hit – ask for another card (to get the value of your cards as close to 21 as possible)

If you choose to ‘hit’, you will be dealt one card at a time until you are satisfied with the value of your hand. Should you go over 21, you hand goes ‘bust’ and you lose.

The ace is a great card because you will have the choice of whether it should be treated as a 11 or a 1. So, if you have a ace, and hit and your hand’s value is over 21, you can simply decide to make the ace a 1 and not a 11.

It depends on where you are playing but generally hand signals are used to indicate what you want to do. This is because the hand signals can be viewed on security cameras which will avoid possible disputes.

  • Hit:

Scratch the table with one or two fingers. Or, you can wave you hand in the air as if you are telling someone to come to you.

  • Stand

Wave your hand from side to side, not far above the table.


  • Splitting Pairs:

If you are dealt with two of the exact same cards, you can split them to make two separate hands. You will then need to bet the same amount that you bet on your first hand, on your second hand.

  • Doubling Up:

Should your first two cards add up to 9, 10 or 11, you can double the amount of your bet by ‘doubling down’. One card will be dealt face down and will only be turned over after all other bets are settled.


The great thing about blackjack is that if you follow a few simple rules, you can make your chances of winning much higher. It doesn’t matter if you are new to the game or if you’ve played for decades, the basic strategy remains the same.

  • If the dealer’s up-card is 7, 8, 9, 10, K, Q, J, A:

Keep hitting until the value of your hand is 17.

  • If the dealer’s up-card is 4, 5, 6:

Keep hitting until you have the value of 12.

  • If the dealer’s up-card is 2, 3:

Hit until your hand is worth 13.

  • If you have a soft hand (for example a ace and a 4):

Keep hitting until you get to 18, maybe more.

  • Double down when:

– Should your first two card have the value of 11, you should double down.

– If you card value is 10 and the dealer’s up-card is a ace, face or 10.

– If your first two cards have a value of 9 and the dealer’s up-card is 2 – 6.

  • Split when:

– If you have a pair of either 8’s, or ace’s.

– If you have a pair of 2’s, 3,’s, 7’s (but don’t split if the dealer shows 8, 9, 10, ace or face cards).

– Split 6’s if the dealer’s up-card is 2 – 6.

– Never split if you have a pic of 4’s, 5’s or 10’s.

Different blackjack versions

The basic blackjack version is arguably played by most people in the world but the game has much more to offer. Although many of the variants might be quite similar to the basics and other might have less in common, you will always find excitement and potential profits by playing any variation.


  • Vegas Strip

The variant is played with four decks of cards and players can split the ace only once. They can however double down on any two cards. The dealer stands on a soft as well as a hard 17. Should a player split, they will lose their insurance wager and you are allowed to double down only after a split, if aces were involved.

It is not considered blackjack if you have a 21 after a split. Should you split aces, each hand will receive only one extra card. There must be equal wagers on splits and pairs of 10 may be split.

  • European Blackjack

This version has no hole card. The dealer only get’s one card at the beginning of the game and get’s his second card at the beginning of the next round. Because of this, no one can know if he has a 21 until further in the round. It is believed that players are much more careful with their betting amounts, which is understandable.

The game uses two decks of cards which give the house less advantage because card counting is made easier. Blackjack pay-out is fixed at 3 -2 and a dealer’s blackjack will win over any other hand. Aces can’t be re-split and a pair can only be split once. If a player splits a hand, they can not double and players are not allowed to surrender.

  • Double Exposure Blackjack

The dealers cards can be seen by the player’s upfront which allows them an advantage. Because the dealers cards are dealt face-up in the first round, the odds of the game is balanced because the pay-out ratio is 3 – 2.

There rules are quite different than other variants. If a player ties with the dealer, they can not take a return on their bet and the bet is lost. After a split, players are not allowed to double down and some of the splits might be slightly forced. Players tend to hit more often because they think they have a advantage by seeing the dealers cards. This sometimes lead to players going bust more frequently.

  • Spanish 21

This variant is more in favour of the player. All 10 cards are removed before playing and doubling down is allowed on any number of cards. Should a player get 21 with 5 cards or more, they will receive a bonus. Players with 21’s and blackjack automatically win. The other advantage is that you will be able to surrender late in the game.

  • Elimination Blackjack

It can be seen as combination of blackjack and Hold’em because there are two main aims. Players need to beat the dealer and also be the last remaining player at the table. The winner is always the player with the most chips, or the last player at the table.

It is played as a tournament and consists of 30 hands. On the 8th, 16th and 25th hands, elimination takes place. The player with the least amount of chips get’s eliminated. During the game, if a players doesn’t have enough to wager if they run our of chips, they will also be eliminated.

All pairs, but not aces, can be split four times. The dealer must stand on a hard 17 and hit on a soft 17. Players can also surrender and double. Only 7 players compete and the game is played a shoe of six decks.

The other exciting feature in this variant is ‘the secret bet’ that can be used only once. This allows the player to place a bet that is kept secret until the end of the hand.

  • Super Fun 21

In this blackjack version, players are allowed to split their hands up until 4 times. If a player has a 6-card hand of 20, he wins automatically.

  • Chinese Blackjack

The variant is also known as Ban-Luck and is most popular in Asia. Two decks of cards are used but a unlimited amount of people can play. The rules are close to the basic blackjack rules but there are a few interesting differences.

Players act as the dealer which get’s changed many times during the game. Depending on the number of card’s the player is dealt, the value of the ace changes.

  • Blackjack Switch

Each player is dealt 2 hands. Only the second card of each of the two hands can be swopped. Instead of the usual 3 – 2 pay-out like in other variations, the natural blackjack pay-out is even. If a dealer has a 22, it’s a push

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