Blackjack Basic Strategy - partycasino

Blackjack Basic Strategy

The key to mastering basic blackjack strategy is to keep it simple, allowing players to easily recall the optimal moves based on the cards they are dealt. 

While blackjack may appear to be a straightforward game, there is much more to it for those looking to enhance their skills.

Over time, mathematicians and academics have developed various theories and methods through extensive analysis. With millions of hands played throughout the history of blackjack, a structured strategy has emerged to help players maximize their chances of winning at the table.

Understanding Basic Blackjack Strategy

Blackjack Basic Strategy Chart Uk - partycasino

A maximum number of hands can appear in any Blackjack game – 340, to be precise. Of these hands, around 100 of them play themselves – i.e they are too low to stand or far too high to hit. The combination of hands in the middle should draw the bulk of your attention.

Luckily, Blackjack has a defined basic strategy which can allow you to make snap judgements about when and how to play these hands. Any successful player's starting point is memorising the strategy, expressed in the strategy chart below, to reduce the house edge and create a fighting chance of winning big payouts playing Blackjack.

The basic Blackjack strategy is centred around the combination of the value of your starting hand and the dealer's visible card. By considering these two factors, players can make calculated decisions based on statistical projections of the probable outcome of each hand. Adopting this approach can significantly decrease the advantage the house has, providing a foundation for greater success.

Should I Play this Hand or Surrender?

From a strategic perspective, the starting point in any hand should be, ‘should I play this hand?’. There is no obligation to play any hand in Blackjack, and if you are unlikely to win, it’s better to cut your losses than continue on. Where this is possible, it’s often only possible with your starting hand. Based on the value of your hand and its corresponding position on the strategy chart, you should first make a conscious decision of whether or not to play...

Should I Split this Hand?

If you decide to play, the next consideration is whether you can split in blackjack. This is only available for pairs, and only recommended for some pairs in particular. If your hand qualifies, do it. If not, move on to the next consideration.

Should I Double Down?

The next consideration is – should you double down? Double down is reserved for hands where you’re in a strong winning position already, so if the charts say double down, you should take that as a sign that you’re on the right track.

Should I Stand or Hit?

Only once you’ve eliminated these considerations should you start to think about when to stand in blackjack or when to hit in blackjack. Again, according to the basic strategy charts (which you should be memorising), it should be obvious to you whether to hit or stand, depending on the value of your hand and the dealer’s upcard.

How to Win at Blackjack: Basic Strategy

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Our Blackjack Basic Strategy chart above, teaches you exactly when to:

  • Hit or Stand
  • Double Down
  • Split Pairs
  • Surrender

Simplifying the basic blackjack strategy is one of the best ways to learn and master the game. By memorizing the best possible moves based on the odds of winning, players can reduce the house edge and increase their chances of winning. Serious players should focus on making the right call more often, which can be achieved through the application of a simple betting strategy that considers the right measures at the right times. 

Today, blackjack players have an advantage over those in the past, as they can build upon previous players' mathematical work and probability calculations. The history of basic blackjack strategy is intriguing and continues to influence the way players approach the game today.

How to Memorize Blackjack Basic Strategy?

If you struggle to learn through visual aids, here's a way to memorize the basic blackjack strategy through concise phrases.

This will enable you to quickly recall the rules without having to refer to a chart, thus allowing you to make informed decisions in a matter of seconds. By committing these phrases to memory, you'll be able to play blackjack more efficiently and make fewer mistakes.

Hard Totals:

Blackjack Hand Hard Totals - partycasino

A hard total is any hand that is not dealt an Ace, or it has been dealt an ace that can only be counted as 1 instead of 11.

  • 5-8 always hit.
  • 9 doubles against dealer 3 through 6 otherwise hit.
  • 10 doubles against dealer 2 through 9 otherwise hit.
  • 11 doubles against dealer 2 through 9 otherwise hit.
  • 12 stands against dealer 4 through 6, otherwise hit.
  • 13 stands against dealer 2 through 6, otherwise hit.
  • 14 stands against dealer 2 through 6, otherwise hit.
  • 15 stands against dealer 2 through 6, otherwise hit.
  • 16 stands against dealer 2 through 6, otherwise hit.
  • 17-21 always stands.

Soft Totals:

Blackjack Hand Soft Totals - partycasino

A soft total is any hand that is dealt an Ace as one of the first two cards, the ace counts as 11 to start.

  • 13 (A&2) doubles against dealer 5 through 6, otherwise hit.
  • 14 (A&3) doubles against dealer 5 through 6, otherwise hit.
  • 15 (A&4) doubles against dealer 4 through 6, otherwise hit.
  • 16 (A&5) doubles against dealer 4 through 6, otherwise hit.
  • 17 (A&6) doubles against dealer 3 through 6, otherwise hit.
  • 18 (A&7) doubles against dealer 3 through 6 (if allowed, otherwise stand), and hits against dealer 9 through Ace, otherwise stand.
  • 19-21 (A&8 ,9,10) always stands.

Splits Pairs:

Blackjack Hand Split Pairs - partycasino
  • A pair of 2’s splits against dealer 2 through 7, otherwise hit.
  • A pair of 3’s splits against dealer 2 through 7, otherwise hit.
  • A pair of 4’s splits against dealer 5 and 6, otherwise hit.
  • A pair of 5’s doubles against dealer 2 through 9, otherwise hit.
  • A pair of 6’s splits against dealer 2 through 6, otherwise hit.
  • A pair of 7’s splits against dealer 2 through 7, otherwise hit.
  • A pair of 8’s splits against dealer 2 through 9, otherwise hit.
  • A pair of 9’s splits against dealer 2 through 9, except for 7, otherwise stand.
  • A pair of 10’s always stands.
  • A pair of Ace’s splits against dealer 2 through 9, otherwise hit.


  • 16 surrenders against dealer 9 through Ace; otherwise, don’t surrender (revert to hard totals).
  • 15 surrenders against dealer 10; otherwise, don’t surrender (revert to hard totals).

You’re playing with the wind at your back by playing in line with basic strategy. It won’t guarantee you will win every hand, but it reduces the house edge as much as possible, so you can start to exploit opportunities to profit when your cards permit. So, why not give Blackjack a try at PartyCasino. If you prefer classic online table games, feel free to browse through our Online Blackjack games. Otherwise, if you want a more interactive experience, you can try our Live Blackjack games.

Other Ways to Help You Memorise the Basic Blackjack Strategy

How To Memorise Blackjack Basic Strategy - partycasino

Memorizing the blackjack basic strategy is one thing and mastering the strategy is another. Practice makes perfect and is the most obvious way of becoming a pro in blackjack. Since it is practically not feasible to visit a land-based casino multiple times in a week, there are some easier methods to help you master the blackjack strategy.

Blackjack Live Stream Games

Observing other Blackjack players can greatly aid in your learning and mastery of the game. Live streaming games are available on various platforms like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitch, where you can find players streaming their Online Blackjack games. By studying these streams, you can learn the proper application of various calls and actions before hitting the live casino.

Free Online Blackjack Games

Online Blackjack games that are offered for free are an excellent option for improving your understanding of the basic strategy and refining your ability to apply it in real-life games. These games can be easily found on the internet and offer a risk-free way to practice and perfect your skills without the need to use real money. The main goal of playing these games is to practice and prepare yourself so that you can easily recite the basic strategy at blackjack in a casino later. You can even try free blackjack demos available at PartyCasino. These demos are playable when you sign up for a casino account.

The History of Blackjack Strategy

Blackjack was first devised in the 1700s, popularized in French casinos of the time. Some scholars argue that its origins span back much further in time, possibly even to the Romans, who were known to play similar numerical gambling games using inscribed wooden blocks in place of playing cards. But it wasn’t until the early 1960s that blackjack strategy gained prominent mainstream appeal.

Edward O. Thorp was a professor of Mathematics at the University of Los Angeles, and in later life would go on to become a hedge fund manager, as well as a highly successful blackjack player. Fascinated by the game, and the interplay of odds and probabilities, he channeled his research into a book that would go on to become an international best-seller – Beat The Dealer.

His ideas shaped how people thought about blackjack strategy for a generation, influencing betting decisions and strategies as players tried to put his techniques into practice.

Thorp put his theories to the test in the live casino environment before publishing his book, gaining the validation he needed that his theory was workable. He attempted to distil a basic blackjack card counting method into a format ordinary players could use, and was no doubt single-handedly responsible for revolutionizing the strategic approach to the game.

Thorp’s strategy involved adding and subtracting a single point from a running total depending on the cards drawn in each hand. For every card drawn from a deck that was valued at 2-6, a point was added to the running total. Every card of value 10-A was assigned minus one point, while the cards 7-9 were a neutral, zero points.

His theory suggests that when the aggregate point tally is positive, players should bet more aggressively on forthcoming hands. When the points total was negative, players should become more cagey, and avoid betting aggressively on upcoming hands.

The theory was that as more low value cards appear, the chances of higher cards appearing in the next hand are increased. Likewise, the opposite is true with lower cards appearing. His hypothesis that players are more likely to hit blackjack or otherwise win the hand when there are high cards remaining in the deck underpinned this theory, and players were able to use this Basic Blackjack Strategy for informing their betting decisions.

His was the first blackjack strategy to reach a mass audience worldwide. As a result, casinos eventually adapter the structure of the game, to attempt to counteract the inherent advantage players could gain from replicating Thorp’s method.

Now that much of blackjack gaming takes place online, with the help of random number generators rather than fixed decks of cards, the effectiveness of this strategy has been minimized. However, it still remains a helpful starting point for getting to grips with the basics of blackjack strategy.

Frequently Asked Questions About Blackjack Basic Strategy

Can You Win At Blackjack With Basic Strategy?

The main goal of the Blackjack basic strategy isn't to help you win every time you play. That's in fact, impossible. Instead, it is to help you reduce the house edge as much as possible, maximize the chances of winning and minimize your losses.

Should You Hit On A 12 Or 13 In Blackjack?

When the dealer’s upcard is a 3, you should hit on anything that is below 8 and precisely on 12, while standing on anything 13 or above. If the dealer’s upcard is a 2, it is best to hit on anything that is below 9 and stand on anything 13 or above.

Is It Hard To Memorize A Basic Blackjack Strategy?

Although memorizing all the rules, especially in conjunction with other factors such as the number of dealer and player cards, may seem daunting, most people can master the basic strategy within a matter of two to four weeks. This can be accomplished through practicing at online casinos, playing simulated games, or simply by watching other players' actions in online Blackjack videos.

Are There Tools That Can Help You Memorize Any Blackjack Basic Strategy?

There are numerous blackjack apps or games that are available for players to practice their strategy. Most of these apps or games are free while others require a one-time payment. Another way to practice Blackjack for free is through PartyCasino – where demo Blackjack games are available for players to access at any time.

Should You Consider Taking The Insurance Bet?

Ideally you wouldn’t want to take the insurance bet. An insurance bet is not recommended to average players purely because of its unreasonably high house edge. Unless the player is exploiting the game by utilizing a card counting method to their advantage, it is not recommended to take the insurance bet when a dealer has an ace.

Can I Use The Blackjack Basic Strategy In Any Casino?

Most casinos do not prohibit the use of Blackjack's basic strategy, and it is acceptable to bring a printed copy of the strategy chart to the casino. However, dealers may become frustrated with players who take excessive time consulting their cards during their turn. It is recommended that players regularly practice and memorize the basic Blackjack strategy before playing at a casino or online casino to avoid taking too much time during the game.

Do I Need To Know Card Counting In Blackjack To Win?

Blackjack card counting can potentially increase a player’s chances of winning, albeit this does not guarantee a high return on their bets over a period of time. Practicing and implementing a basic Blackjack strategy is all you need to keep the house edge low while maximising your odds of winning.