Blackjack Systems

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Blackjack Systems

Blackjack SystemsThe Basic Strategy.

The most important thing to know about blackjack is the basic strategy, which can be found in every introductory blackjack book. This strategy is simply the best way to play every possible situation, without any knowledge of the distribution of the rest of the cards in the deck.


The chart below is for blackjack played with four or more decks. There are a few differences for fewer decks in very borderline situations. Unless you are very serious about cutting down the edge as much as possible it is quite safe to use this basic strategy for any number of decks.


To use the basic strategy look up your hand along the left vertical edge and the dealer's up card along the top. In both cases an A stands for ace. From top to bottom are the hard totals, soft totals, and splitable hands. The splitable hands have been divided into two groups depending on whether or not doubling after splitting is allowed. In multiple deck games doubling after a split is usually allowed and that rule can go either way in single deck. In the body of the chart are color coded cells that indicate the best play: H=hit, S=stand, D=double, P=split, H/P=split if allowed to double after a split, otherwise hit, H/R=surrender if allowed, otherwise hit.


Blackjack Systems


Some other situations have been left out to keep the chart as small as possible they are:

  • Always hit a hard 7 or less in single deck.

  • Always hit a hard 8 or less in multiple deck.

  • Always stand on a hard 17 or more.

  • Always stand on a soft 20 or more in single deck.

  • Always stand on a soft 19 or more in multiple deck.

  • If you have a soft total that normally calls for doubling, but the rules do not permit you to do so, then hit on soft 17 or less and stand on soft 18 or more.



Sometimes in a 6 or 8 deck game the player has the option to surrender. To be specific the player may forfeit half their bet to be excused from playing out their hand. Obviously this option should only be taken in the worst hands when the net return is less than 50%. In late surrender (the only kind I have ever seen) the player may only opt to surrender after the dealer checks for a blackjack. The following table is a basic guide for when to surrender (Y=yes, N=no).

Basic Surrender Strategy


Dealer's Card













House Edge

The table shows the house edge assuming the player is using the basic strategy and the following rules:


  • Dealer stands on a soft 17

  • Player may double after a split

  • Player may double on any two cards

  • Split up to 3 or 4 hands

  • Draw one card to split aces

  • No surrender


Blackjack Statistics

of Decks














Rule variations will have an effect on the player's expected return. The numbers below show the effect on the player's return under various rules and are after taking into consideration proper basic strategy adjustments. These changes are relative to the benchmark rules above.


Rule Variations



Player may draw to split aces


Player may re-split aces


Late surrender


Player may double on 9-11 only


Player may double on 10,11 only


Player may not double after splitting


Player may not re-split


Dealer hits on soft 17


No hole card: ace showing


No hole card: ten showing




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