How to Play Blackjack – Blackjack Strategies and Rules

Improve your chances of winning with our online blackjack strategy guide. We’ll take you through basic blackjack strategies, charts, and tips on playing this popular table game.

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Basic Blackjack Strategy

Blackjack is a game where the player’s objective is to create a hand where they score a value of 21 or as close to 21 as possible without going over. One of the other major rules of blackjack is that the player’s hand must be worth more than the hand of the dealer.

When it comes to blackjack strategy, there are a ton of methods for honing your game! As with any table game, blackjack is one where the player can significantly lower the house edge through the use of a basic strategy. Here are some of the most common tactics used by the professionals:

Avoid Blackjack Insurance

When playing blackjack, it is best not to take the insurance! It is a 2 to 1 payoff and that is less than the odds that the dealer will have a blackjack. Blackjack insurance is commonly referred to as a sucker bet.

Online Blackjack Banner

Hitting Strategies

In blackjack, hitting is the act of requesting an extra card from the dealer. You want to be careful when it comes to hitting because one of the game’s main objectives is to not go over 21! These are a few of the best in blackjack strategy when it comes to hitting:

  • Hit on Ace-7 With Dealer Up Card of 9, 10, or Ace
  • Always Hit on Hard 12 With Dealer Up Card of 2 or 3
  • Hit with Pairs of 2s or 3s With Dealer Up Card of 2 or 3 (as long as there is no DAS)

Splitting Strategies

Splitting is a strategy where players can take a pair of cards (two 5s or two 7s, for instance) and split them apart. The player can then play each of them as two separate hands instead of one! Be careful what pairs you choose to split because you can easily go over 21.

  • Splits Pairs of 8s and Aces
  • Avoid Splitting Pairs of 5s or 10s
  • Split Pairs of 2s or 3s With Dealer Up Card of 2 or 3 (as long as rules allow DAS)

Standing Strategies

Standing is the player holding the total in their hand and not taking an extra card. This ends the player’s turn. This is a strategy that is best used if you are close to 21 and do not want to go over.

  • Stand on Pair of 9s With Dealer Up Card of 7
  • Stand on Hard 16 (multi-card) With Dealer Up Card of 10

Double Down Strategies

Doubling down is the act of doubling your bet before the dealer give you another card. If the player makes another bet that is the exact value of the first bet, they will get only one card from the dealer.

  • Double Down on Hard 11
  • Always Double Down on 10 With Dealer Up Card of 9 or Less
  • Double Down A-2 to A-7 With Dealer Up Card of 5 or 6
  • Double Down on 8 With Dealer Up Card of 5 or 6 (Single Deck Game)

Surrender Strategies

Surrendering is kind of like folding in poker, but here players can get back half of their bet by choosing to not play out the rest of their hand.

  • Surrender Hard 16 With Dealer Up Card of 9, 10, or Ace
  • Surrender Hard 15 With Dealer Up Card of 10

Blackjack Strategy Card

Employing a basic strategy can greatly bring down the house edge and increase your chances of winning against the dealer! Follow the blackjack strategy below and watch your frequency of wins increase over time:

Blackjack Basic Strategy Chart

Additional Basic Strategy

  1. Never take insurance
  2. Always stand hard 17 or higher
  3. Always stand A8, A9, A10, and 10-10
  4. Always play 5-5 as a 10
  5. Always split Aces

Advanced Blackjack Strategy

Counting cards is a strategy in the game of blackjack where there are positive, negative, and zero value assigned to each card. The idea is that, as more lower value cards are revealed, the “count” of the deck will increase and vice versa.

Depending on the counting system that you are using, there will be a difference with how the value of each card is calculated. One of the most popular counting systems is called the Hi-Lo method. Cards revealed that are 10 to ace knock the count of the deck down by one a piece. Cards revealed that are 2 to 6 add one to the count. 7 to 9 do not affect the count of the deck and are valued at 0.

Major Card Counting Strategies

Counting Strategy 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10-K A Count Level
Hi-Lo +1 +1 +1 +1 +1 0 0 0 -1 -1 1
Hi-Lo Option I 0 +1 +1 +1 +1 0 0 0 -1 0 1
Hi-Lo Option II +1 +1 +2 +2 +1 +1 0 0 -2 0 2
KO +1 +1 +1 +1 +1 +1 0 0 -1 -1 1
Omega II +1 +1 +2 +2 +2 +1 0 -1 -2 0 2
Red 7 +1 +1 +1 +1 +1 0/ +1 0 0 -1 -1 1
Halves +0.5 +1 +1 +1.5 +1 +0.5 0 -0.5 -1 -1 3
Zen Count +1 +1 +2 +2 +2 +1 0 0 -2 -1 2
10 Count +1 +1 +1 +1 +1 +1 +1 +1 -2 +1 2

While counting cards is not explicitly illegal in the United States, casinos do everything in their power to make sure their players are not practicing the act. Those whose who are suspected of counting cards can be banned from the casino.

Something to keep in mind about card counting is that it is impossible to do so when playing online blackjack because those games run on random number generators. Card counting is a practice that is done exclusively at land-based casino operations.

Blackjack Betting Systems

There are plenty of blackjack strategies when it comes to actually playing blackjack, but there are also tips and tricks for how to place your bets! Blackjack strategy does not just end with deciding whether to hit, stand, surrender, or not. How you bet and how much you bet matters as well! Below are some of the most common betting strategies to employ when you play blackjack:

Ace and King Cards - Casino Chips

Martingale

One of the most popular forms of blackjack strategy is betting the Martingale way! The technique calls for players to double up their bet after every loss until the player finally wins. In the end, the player will be ahead by one betting unit.

D’Alembert

This method is really similar to Martingale but there are a few differences. Here, the bettor will raise one a betting unit when they lose and will lower one when they win.

Fibonacci

This method runs off a special mathematical sequence: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, and so on. If you know what numbers are in this sequence, you will know how much to bet. You will follow the betting sequence as long as you win, but if you lose, you will have to start back at the beginning.

For example:
Your first hand will see you betting one unit, your second hand will see you betting one unit, your third hand will see you betting two units, your fourth hand will see you betting five units, and so on. You will keep following the sequence until you lose and then you must restart.

1-3-2-6

This is another blackjack strategy when it comes to betting where the player will increase their bet by set increments. In this case, players will follow the sequence of 1-3-2-6. If they lose, they must restart at the first step of the sequence.

Parlay

Parlay bets in blackjack follow the simple rule of increasing bets after a winning hand and decreasing bets after a loss.

Oscar’s Grind

This blackjack strategy for betting involves grinding out a small profit over time. The general rule of thumb here is to repeat a bet when you lose a round and to add one betting unit to the previous bet when you win a round.

Blackjack Terms to Know

These are a few of the blackjack terms and jargon you will encounter if you spend any sort of time on the blackjack tables. When playing blackjack, you will want to have some sort of concept of what the terminologies mean. This way you will know what others are talking about and you will not look like a total fool.

Blackjack Term Definition Blackjack Term Definition
Anchorman The person that is seated next to the dealer who is the last of the players to act. Bankroll The sum of total of money that you have set aside to bet on blackjack.
Burn Card This is the card that is placed face down by the dealer before dealing the first card to the first player. Bust This either means that you have run out of money in your bankroll or that you have a blackjack hand that is over 21. Either way, you want to avoid going bust when it comes to blackjack.
Card Counting The act of tracking cards in a deck to figure out the likelihood of the dealer going over 21. Cold Deck If a blackjack player is running into a streak of bad cards, they sometimes refer to this misfortune as a cold deck.
Color Up The act of trading in a lot of low-value chips in for higher denominations. Cut Card The act of the one blackjack player splitting the deck in half for the dealer to ensure everything is thoroughly shuffled.
Deck Penetration This is important blackjack strategy for card counters. Penetration refers to the percentage of blackjack cards that are in play following the previous shuffle. Discards These are all the cards that have been dealt and lie in a pile waiting to be reshuffled and brough back into the deck.
Double Down This is a blackjack strategy where the player can double their bet in a moment when the dealer looks weak. You double your bet but are limited to getting only one more card. Face Card Face cards are the jacks, queens, and kings.
Flat Bets This is when a player bets the same amount every round. It makes for a boring betting experience. Griffin Book This is a black book of known card counters that has been compiled by security workers at land-based casinos.
Hard Hand Because the ace functions as an 11 or a 1, blackjack hands can take on two values. A hard hand is one that has no ace and is, therefore, worth only one value. Heads Up This is where there is only one player at the blackjack table.
Hit Asking the dealer for another card to add to your hand. House Edge This is the supposed advantage that the house has in a given casino game. in the case of blackjack, it is slightly over 1%. The house edge can be brought down with the use of a basic blackjack strategy.
Multi Deck Many casinos will utilized over five decks of cards for their blackjack games. Natural This is the perfect hand when you play blackjack. It is two cards that are exactly equal to 21.
Paint This is blackjack jargon for face cards: kings, queens, and jacks. Pit The area of the casino where you sit to play blackjack.
Push Tying with the dealer. There is no win or loss as a result of the push. Soft Hand These are blackjack hands that have one or two aces that can act as either an 11 or a 1.
Split If you have two cards of the same value, you can split them into two separate hands. This matches your initial wager. Stand The act of not taking another card from the dealer.
Surrender This is the act of abandoning your hand and getting back half of your bet. Toke A tip to the staff of a land-based casino.
Up Card This is the dealer’s one face up card. You can use this information to form your basic strategy.

Where to Play Blackjack Online

If you are looking for a good place online to play blackjack, create a new account at one of our favorite online blackjack casinos for 2022!

Pros and Cons of Online Blackjack

Pros Cons
  • Faster pace of play
  • Online casinos have bonuses and promotions
  • Many blackjack games online have house edges of 1% or less
  • Online blackjack offers lower stake limits
  • Higher hourly loss rate due to faster pace
  • Rollover requirements are included with bonuses and promotions
  • Card counting is not possible
  • No socializing with other players

Blackjack Strategy FAQ


Blackjack is one of the best table games you can be playing if you are looking for a game with a low house edge. Most blackjack games have a house edge around 1% and this can be brought even lower with the use of a basic blackjack strategy!

When playing online, this is not much of factor. However, when it comes to land-based casino games where you can count card, it is better to be playing with a single deck because there are less cards you need to track.

Yes, card counting has been proven to work. It’s all mathematics and calculated probabilities. Those who have learned to count cards have also won millions from land-based casinos over the years.

Online blackjack casinos run on random number generators as there is no human dealer present to perform the duties of the table. Counting cards at an online casino is, therefore, not really a thing.

Many want to get the blackjack insurance because they get nervous about the dealer having an ace up card. However, blackjack insurance odds sit at 2 to 1 which aren’t even the odds that the dealer will have blackjack in the first place! Blackjack insurance also throttles the maximum bet allowed to about half of the player’s main bet. Blackjack insurance is considered a sucker bet, just another way for the casino to make some extra money on unsuspecting players.

Yes, many land-based casinos are fine with players bringing their blackjack strategy cards. Be sure to check the casino rules ahead of time!