Gambling Tips > Blackjack Strategy


By Henry Tamburin

Playing slots is fun. Playing blackjack is profitable. And you don’t have to be a math wiz to become a smart blackjack player. In this article I’ll get you started with a simple playing strategy that will take you all of 10 minutes to learn.

But first let me address the fear that most players have about playing blackjack. I know it’s the “I” word … intimidation that the dealer, or worse, a fellow player will scold you for making a “wrong” play that causes everyone at the table to lose.

First off, how you play your hands has no bearing on the odds of other players on your table winning or losing. Sometimes a player making an “incorrect” play that will cause players to lose, but an equal number of times it could cause players to win.

My advice if you’ve never played blackjack is to first read a good book that covers the basics. Then attend a free lesson offered by most casinos so you get some hands on experience at how the game is played. Then use the playing strategy I’m about to discuss and you’ll be playing like a pro in no time.

What follows is an abbreviated strategy that involves learning only nine rules. It's not as accurate as the complete basic strategy you will find in blackjack books but it's much easier to learn, and it'll allow you to get an overall return in the range of 99.1 to 99.5% (depends upon the number of decks and the playing rules). Trust me that you’ll be hard pressed to find a slot machine that returns in excess of 99%.

The first column in the table below indicates your hand. The second column shows the playing strategy you should follow based upon what the dealer's upcard happens to be. For example, suppose you are dealt a 9 and 7 and the dealer's upcard is a 7. Your hand totals 16. You should hit the 16 according to the first rule below.

Your Hand Playing Strategy vs Dealer Upcard

12 through 16 Stand on 2 through 6, hit on 7 through ace
17 through 21 Always Stand
10 or 11 Double down on 2 through 9
Soft 13 through 17 Always hit except double down on 5, 6
Soft 18 through 21 Always stand except double down on soft 18 on 5, 6
2,2; 3,3; 6,6; 7,7; 9,9 Split on 2 though 7 (except stand on 9,9 vs 7)
5,5; 10,10 Never split
8,8; ace,ace Always split



Once you learn the above playing strategy, that will also help build up your confidence and overcome your intimidation. Look at this way. By following the above simple strategy you'll be playing better then most of the players on your table. If you're still concerned about making mistakes, jot the above strategy on an index card and take it with you when you play. If you forget what to do, refer to your index card.

Another tip to keep in mind is do NOT play blackjack at any table where player blackjacks pay 6-5 (or worse only even money). Getting paid 6-5 is far worse then getting paid the standard 3 to 2 so avoid all 6-5 games. You should also avoid any table that uses a continuous shuffling machine meaning the cards after each round is returned to the shuffler.

Playing blackjack is just as fun as playing the slots and your chances of winning are much better if you follow the above abbreviated playing strategy.