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Though you can learn how to play blackjack in just a couple of minutes, you shouldn’t really sit down and play for money until you’ve mastered basic strategy. But what exactly is basic strategy? Find out and learn more at WizardSlots.

Pioneered by US Army mathematicians, basic strategy is a mathematically proven way to play your cards to cut the house edge in blackjack to almost zero. Basically (please excuse the pun), it tells you how to proceed with any hand and to start using this strategy, all you need to do is abide by the following four tips.

Always Stand when Your Hand is 12-16 and the Dealer Has 2-6

The dealer can’t stand at 16 so if his or her up-card is any number between two and six, it’s likely that he or she will have to choose at least two more cards to arrive in the sticking range (17 or more). Plus, if the dealer has to draw two more cards, there’s a good chance he or she will go bust. Thus, always stand when this situation arises.   

Always Split Aces and Eights

Although aces are the best cards in blackjack, a pair of them  amounts to at best a 12 and doesn’t make a good hand. But, if you split them, you’ve a much better chance of reaching 21 as there are four times more 10 cards (including the court cards) than any other cards in the deck. As for eights, two of them gives you 16, a score that’s not really ideal for sticking or twisting. So, unpair them. 

Never Split 5s and 10s

Fives and tens should never be split. A pair of fives makes 10 and since around 54% of the cards in blackjack are valued between seven and 10, you’ve a much better chance of getting a decent  score if you keep them together. A pair of tens, meanwhile, adds up to 20 and because this is the second-best score out there, it’s hard to defeat. Therefore, don’t separate your 10s!

Double Down When You’ve 11 and the Dealer Has 2-10

Drawing a card on a score of 11 won’t make you go bust and since there’s a decent chance you could get a high score with your next card, you should raise the stakes.   

Some Caveats

Basic strategy is so effective many casinos have changed their rules to make blackjack more profitable. For instance, they use more decks of cards, restrict your splitting and doubling down opportunities, remove the surrendering option and allow the dealer to draw more cards on Soft 17s (hands containing an ace and a six). Avoid playing games with any of these restrictions.

Final Thoughts

Basic strategy teaches you when to stand, split, hit and double down and helps create a more level playing field between you and the dealer. So, start using it from now on (believe me, your wallet will thank you for it ) and stay away from casinos that try to counteract it!

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