There is an optimal way of playing blackjack first you must know how to play blackjack and then you will be ready for what is called ‘basic strategy’. This is independent of card counting, which is an add-on strategy. Likewise advanced strategy is an improvement over basic strategy. But if you play for money it is necessary to use at least basic strategy otherwise your game will be leaking extra cash on a consistent basic. Basic strategy is an awesome tool for blackjack players. Playing it perfectly can lower the house edge from 2-5% to 0.5%. But you must play it exactly for the house edge to come down.
In a nutshell what basic strategy means is that statistical analysis of the game was conducted long time ago by statisticians. For any two cards that you have and given a face up card for the dealer, they discovered that there is an optimal play. This play is optimal is the sense that if that hand was to be repeated a large number of times, this is the play with the best result on average. This assumes a random full single deck or a number of decks of cards, but does not take into account the cards already played.
To make things easier, all the information necessary to play basic strategy is summarized in a so-called blackjack chart that any player can use even in live casinos.
How to learn basic strategy then you may ask. Playing perfect basic strategy means playing every single one of your hands according to what the chart says. No deviating no matter what your brain is telling you. And while it is perfectly legal to carry a basic strategy chart with you into a casino or use one online, the quality of your blackjack games can improve if you can play without the chart.
There are a few ways that you can learn basic strategy so that you don’t have to carry a chart around.
You can practice playing at online casinos in their free play mode. Just keep playing, trying to remember what play you’re supposed to make without looking at the chart. The repetitive nature of learning this way will allow you to learn while playing. This method tends to take longer.
Another method is to sit down and study the chart. Try memorizing a line a day. It’s even recommended to make flash cards. Put the dealer’s up card versus a player’s hand on one side; on the back side write down what the correct play is. Keep running through the flash cards until you can name the correct play to make without hesitation. Every so often take a blank sheet of paper and recreate the entire basic strategy chart—see how much of the chart you have memorized. Keep recreating the chart until you have the entire thing right.
Having the basic strategy chart memorized will help speed up the game when you play. You will also know that you are making the best play possible when at the blackjack table or online.
To continue with basic strategy here is a list of the best hands to double down on. Blackjack is usually played from a defensive position. You make your playing decisions based on what the dealer’s up card is. Think about it. When you’re looking at your basic strategy chart you are seeing what to do in the situation that the dealer is showing X card.
However, there are some instances when we blackjack players get to go on the offensive. And those times are when we are dealt a starting hand total of 9, 10 or 11. When we have one of those three starting hand totals, usually our best move is to double down. And doubling down is an offensive stance. When you are doubling down you are telling the dealer that you have a better chance of out-drawing him—that your hand is stronger than his.
Having a starting hand of 11 you have the most opportunities to double down. Basically it’s best to double down if the dealer is showing a 2 through 10. The only time you don’t is when the dealer has an Ace showing. If you have 10, double down against a dealer’s 2 through 9. And if you have a 9, double down 3 through 6.
When you double down you only receive one more card. If that last card is a 10 you now have 19, 20 or 21—all of which are strong hands. And because you doubled down on a hand in which you have a better chance of out drawing the dealer, you have a better chance of doubling your winnings. If you can’t have a natural blackjack or a hard 20 or 19, an 11 would be the hand to wish for next.