Basic Blackjack Strategy
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Basic Blackjack Strategy
Nov 19, 2001, 08:00
By John Vasser

Counter's Corner is a monthly column bringing you tips and trips for the card counter in all of us. You don't have to be a card counter to appreciate John's tips, as basic strategy players are also included in his advice...

The Basic Blackjack Strategy System Explained

The system we shall look at is what I call the Basic Blackjack Strategy system. If the player plays according to the same rules as the dealer (that is, draws to 16 and stands on any total of 17 or greater), then, because the player plays first, the house takes is 8.9%. Given that the dealer must pay 3:2 on blackjack, the house take is reduced to 5.9%. Using the Basic Blackjack Strategy system, the house stake is shaved down to almost zero. That's right baby. The Basic Blackjack Strategy will suggest the most efficient action to take when certain card totals appear. It gives you the choice to either 'stand' (do nothing and stay with what you have) 'hit' (take another card), 'double' (double the size of your initial bet) or 'split' (separate the two identical cards dealt to you and create two separate hands). For example, say you have a 7 and an 8 for a total of 15 and the dealer has a 6. It is your turn to make a decision. Using the Basic Blackjack Strategy, look across the top row and find the dealer's total of six, then run down the left-hand side to find your total of 15. In the middle of the Basic Blackjack Strategy, at the junction of the appropriate row and column, we find 'S' for 'stand'. Do not take another card -- choose to do nothing. Note that the player's total runs down the left-hand side and the dealer's one-card total is across the top. 

       2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   A
5-8    H   H   H   H   H   H   H    H   H   H
9      D   D   D   D   D   D   D    D   H   H*
11     D   D   D   D   D   D   D    D (D/H) (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   S   S    S   S   S
A2-A6  H   H   H   H   H   H   H    H   H   H 
A7     S   S   S   S   S   S   S    H   H   H
A8-A10 S   S   S   S   S   S   S    S   S   S

Now, some points of clarification.

Player Total 5-8. Take a card against all dealer cards.

Player Total 9. The dealer stands a better chance of not busting with a 2 than a 3, 4, 5 or 6. Remember, if you double you only receive one card. If it is not a ten-value card you could be throwing good money after bad. Always double when your total is nine versus a dealer 3, 4, 5 or 6. The dealer is most likely to lose with these first cards and you are well advised to capitalize on it. Take a card when the dealer has 7, 8, 9, 10 or Ace.

Player Total 10. Double against all dealer cards except a dealer 10 or Ace. You are likely to end up with a total close to 20 -- a very difficult hand for the dealer to beat.

Player Total 12. Twelve is probably the worst player total. You should take a card against dealer 2 or 3 and stand against dealer 4, 5 or 6. Against dealer 7, 8, 9, 10 or Ace, you take a card because you have nothing to lose -- the dealer is likely to beat you.

Player Totals 13, 14, 15 and 16. Stand against dealer 'high bust' totals of 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 and (like player 12 totals) you take a card against dealer 7, 8, 9, 10 or Ace.

Player Totals 17-21. Always Stand against all dealer totals. You have a strong chance of winning and there is no need to tamper with it. The chances of improving these hands are low and of busting, high.

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