I have been playing blackjack in Arizona since it became legal around 2003. In all my years of playing I have seen probably ten players who played Basic Strategy perfectly. However there always seems to be that one guy at the table who thinks he is an expert trying to tell the other players how to play their hand.
The truth is this guy seldom knows basic strategy himself perfectly. In fact I have had people like this try to correct my play when I am counting cards. I just smile. This is usually the same idiot that tells players that the object of the game of blackjack is to get as close to 21 without going over. Wrong! The object of the game is to beat the dealer.
If you look at a basic strategy chart there are around 250 plays that you need to memorize to play it perfectly. To most players this is probably over-whelming and I don’t think most individuals are willing to put in that much time on a game they play once in a while. In light of this I am going to give you the charts for a very simple strategy. Instead of memorizing 250 plays you only have to learn 21.
This strategy is not correct 100% of the time, and you will give the casino an additional .14% advantage by playing it. However the cost of your imperfect play will amount to about one hand for every twelve hours of play, which for the recreational player is very small.
On the chart you will see “Hard 4 to 8”. A hand is called hard if it is made up of cards that have no aces, or aces that count as 1 point or the hand would bust. So if you have a “hard” 4 to 8 according to the chart you would hit the hand if the dealer has a 2-6 or 7-Ace showing. When the chart shows an “H” that means to hit the hand.
A “Soft” hand is one that has an ace that can be counted as 1 or 11 points. For example a six and an ace would be called a soft 17 because the ace could be counted as a one or eleven. The player would actually have a seven or seventeen.
If you have a “hard” 9 the chart tells you to Double if the dealer has a 2-6 showing, and to “hit” if the dealer up card is a 7 through ace. “Double down” means that a player can push out an additional bet equal to or less than their original bet, however you only get one more card
An “S” in the box means to stand on the hand, waving the dealer off. So on the chart you see 12-16 and an “S” in that box, means to stand on the hand if the dealer is showing a 2-6 as an up card.
You will notice the bottom of the chart is says splits, and it has a green “Y”. A “Split” is – If the player has a pair, or any two 10-point cards, then he may push an equal amount of his original bet out and split the hand into two seperate hands. The dealer will then give the first hand an additional card and the player can stand, hit, double, or split again if he gets another pair. The player may resplit up to four times. If you are dealt a pair of aces you may split them however you only get one card on each.
Also in the “split section you will notice an “N”. This means don’t split the hand, just play it as though you don’t have a pair.
Hopefully this simple strategy will entice some players into playing the game, after all Blackjack has the best player odds in the casino.
T.J. Jorgensen has been a professional Blackjack player for over 20 years. He is well known for his live tournament play and has competed against, and beaten, some of the top tournament players in the world. He also has won the prestigious World Series of Blackjack. His book, “Beating the Casino at Their Own Game,” is available by e-mail…… firstname.lastname@example.org