Best Blackjack Strategies That Work in 2021

Finding a blackjack strategy that fits your needs as a player can often prove a bit of a challenge. Yet, there are time-tested strategies that will repeatedly work as you try them at different blackjack games, and those are the ones you specifically want to pay closer attention to. 

Today, we will look at the best blackjack strategies, alternating between a basic strategy for newcomers, a list of tips to stick to as catechism whenever you play blackjack, as well as recommended actions based on the current cards you have in your hand.

This strategy guide is designed to be used as a continuous source of inspiration and browsed through repeatedly. It’s a living document, but of course, you can expect the core principles laid out here to be true, accurate, and helpful.

You do not have to memorize the information listed here, as it will always be available and guide you through your next blackjack game, whether you play single deck, multi-hand, or some other version of the popular game. We help you beat the house edge by understanding the dealer, game dynamics, and expected outcomes.

Basic Blackjack Strategy: How to Play Optimally

The first thing you ought to familiarize yourself with is how a blackjack table works. Once you do, you will probably benefit from picking a game version that is played with fewer decks. 4 and 8-deck blackjack is very popular, and every basic blackjack strategy will cover this type of game.

Since there are fewer odds to take care of, it’s much easier to approximately guess the next outcome. Mind, you will not be able to ever guess the exact card coming next, so don’t misunderstand the way this strategy works.  

Well, “guess” isn’t the most appropriate word here. You are trying to minimize the house edge through evidence that certain plays are statistically more likely to happen. There are slight differences in how you would play physical blackjack and how you would play at an online casino. 

We will cover that in a bit, but for now, the basic strategy we have at hand here will serve you well, no matter how new – or experienced – you are in the game of blackjack. We consider several scenarios, including where the dealer hits and stands on soft 17. 

Surrender 

  • Surrender a hard 16 but never a pair of 8’s versus dealer’s 9, 10, or Ace
  • Surrender a hard 15 against a dealer’s 10

Split

  • Split your Aces and 8’s
  • Do not split 5’s and 10’s
  • Split 2’s and 3’s against dealer’s 4, 5, 6, or 7
  • Split 6’s against dealer’s 3, 4, 5, or 6
  • Split 7’s against dealer’s 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7
  • Split 9’s against a dealer’s 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 or 8,9, but not 7

There are a few slight modifications to this blackjack betting strategy. If Double After Split is allowed, you will consider a few other moves, including:

  • Split 2’s and 3’s against dealer’s 2 and 3
  • Split 6’s against dealer’s 2
  • Split 4’s against dealer’s 2

Double

  • Double hard 9’s vs. dealer’s 3, 4, 5 or 6
  • Double hard 10 except vs. dealer’s 10 or Ace
  • Double hard 11 except vs. dealer’s Ace
  • Double soft 13 or 14 vs. dealer’s 5 or 6
  • Double soft 15 or 16 vs. dealer’s 4 or 6 
  • Double soft 17 vs. 18 vs. dealer’s 3 or 6

Hit and Stand

  • Hit on hard 11 or less
  • Stand on hard 12 vs. dealer’s 4, 5, or 6, otherwise hit
  • Stand on hard 13, 14, 15, and 16 vs. a dealer’s 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6, otherwise hit 
  • Stand on hard 17 or greater
  • Stand on soft 18 but hit vs. dealer’s 9, 10, Ace
  • Stand on soft 19 or greater 

Blackjack Strategy Additional Rules

There are a few small adjustments that you may want to consider if you are playing a game where the dealer hits on soft 17. Factor in the following changes:

  • Double 11 vs. dealer’s Ace
  • Double soft 18 vs. dealer’s 2 
  • Double soft 19 vs. dealer’s 6
  • Surrender 15, 8’s, and 17 vs. dealer’s Ace

Blackjack Strategies Charts and Tables 

To make it much easier for you to play blackjack and still know that you are playing to the best possible strategy, we recommend taking a look at our strategy charts. There is no need to memorize any of these situations, although, as you continue playing, you will notice that your understanding of the game and its rules, strategies, and dynamics improves intuitively. 

To help pack the most information in the charts, we have used several terms that are widely recognized in the blackjack community and will therefore be a language that you will find familiar as you continue to learn about viable blackjack strategies.

AbbreviationDefinition
HHit
SStand
DhDouble Down if allowed. Otherwise, Hit.
DsDouble Down if allowed. Otherwise, Stand.
RhSurrender if allowed. Otherwise, Stand.
RsSurrender if allowed. Otherwise, Split.
RpSurrender if allowed. Otherwise, Split
PSplit
PhSplit if Hit after Double Down is allowed. Otherwise, Hit
PdSplit if Hit after Double Down is allowed. Otherwise, Double Down
PsSplit if Hit after Double Down is allowed. Otherwise, Stand

Single Deck Blackjack Chart 

Below is a list of viable blackjack strategy charts that are designed to quickly advise you on what to do next depending on your present cards, as well as what the dealer is showing. The house edge will vary based on that information, so make sure to pay a close attention to each strategy chart. 

We have made sure to provide you with an easy-to-follow, color-coded charts that will help you improve your blackjack game and win more often than not. In case of questions, you can send us a quick email or leave a comment – otherwise, stick to the charts and place your next bet in confidence that you are playing the best possible strategy out there.

Dealer Stands on Soft 17

Hard 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Ace
5, 6, 7 H H H H H H H H H H
8 H H H Dh Dh H H H H H
9 Dh Dh Dh Dh Dh H H H H H
10 Dh Dh Dh Dh Dh Dh Dh Dh H H
11 Dh Dh Dh Dh Dh Dh Dh Dh Dh Dh
12 H H S S S H H H H H
13 S S S S S H H H H H
14 S S S S S H H H H H
15 S S S S S H H H H H
16 S S S S S H H H Rh Rh
17+ S S S S S S S S S S
Soft 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Ace
13 H H Dh Dh Dh H H H H H
14 H H Dh Dh Dh H H H H H
15 H H Dh Dh Dh H H H H H
16 H H Dh Dh Dh H H H H H
17 Dh Dh Dh Dh Dh H H H H H
18 S Ds Ds Ds Ds S S H H S
19 S S S S Ds S S S S S
20 S S S S S S S S S S
Splits 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Ace
2, 2 Ph P P P P P H H H H
3, 3 Ph Ph P P P P Ph H H H
4, 4 H H Ph Pd Pd H H H H H
6, 6 P P P P P Ph H H H H
7, 7 P P P P P P Ph H Rs H
8, 8 P P P P P P P P P P
9, 9 P P P P P S P P S S
A, A P P P P P P P P P P

Dealer Hits on Hard 17

Hard 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Ace
4, 5, 6, 7 H H H H H H H H H H
8 H H H Dh Dh H H H H H
9 Dh Dh Dh Dh Dh H H H H H
10 Dh Dh Dh Dh Dh Dh Dh Dh H H
11 Dh Dh Dh Dh Dh Dh Dh Dh Dh Dh
12 H H S S S H H H H H
13 S S S S S H H H H H
14 S S S S S H H H H H
15 S S S S S H H H H Rh
16 S S S S S H H H Rh Rh
17 S S S S S S S S S Rs
18+ S S S S S S S S S S
Soft 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
13 H H Dh Dh Dh H H H
14 H H Dh Dh Dh H H H
15 H H Dh Dh Dh H H H
16 H H Dh Dh Dh H H H
17 Dh Dh Dh Dh Dh H H H
18 S Ds Ds Ds Ds S S H
19 S S S S Ds S S S
20 S S S S S S S S
Splits 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A
2, 2 Ph P P P P P H H H H
3, 3 Ph Ph P P P P Ph H H H
4, 4 H H Ph Pd Pd H H H H H
6, 6 P P P P P Ph H H H H
7, 7 P P P P P P Ph H Rs Rh
8, 8 P P P P P P P P P P
9, 9 P P P P P S P P S Ps
A, A P P P P P P P P P P

Blackjack Strategy Charts for 4 and 8-Deck Games

Since there are so many versions of blackjack, and they all more or less come down to the same statistical probability, it’s very easy to create broader strategies that always work and cover numerous variations of the game

The key variable is actually the number of decks. Well, that and whether the dealer hits or stands on soft 17. As you can imagine, we have accounted for both variables in providing you with these tables. In fact, the most common variation of blackjack is the six-deck version, but it’s duly covered as part of our 4 and 8-deck strategy guides. 

Below you will find what we consider to be the perfect blackjack strategy for 4 and 8-deck games, designed to help you win consistently in the long run by making the right calls at the right time. Winning at blackjack comes down to two things – knowing the strategies or counting cards. We will touch on the latter later, and for now, let’s focus on the strategy charts.

Dealer Stands on Soft 17

Hard 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A
4-8 H H H H H H H H H H
9 H Dh Dh Dh Dh H H H H H
10 Dh Dh Dh Dh Dh Dh Dh Dh H H
11 Dh Dh Dh Dh Dh Dh Dh Dh Dh H
12 H H S S S H H H H H
13 S S S S S H H H H H
14 S S S S S H H H H H
15 S S S S S H H H Rh H
16 S S S S S H H Rh Rh Rh
17+ S S S S S S S S S S
Soft 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A
13 H H H Dh Dh H H H H H
14 H H H Dh Dh H H H H H
15 H H Dh Dh Dh H H H H H
16 H H Dh Dh Dh H H H H H
17 H Dh Dh Dh Dh H H H H H
18 S Ds Ds Ds Ds S S H H S
19+ S S S S S S S S S S
Splits 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A
2, 2 Ph Ph P P P P H H H H
3, 3 Ph Ph P P P P H H H H
4, 4 H H H Ph Ph H H H H H
6, 6 Ph P P P P H H H H H
7, 7 P P P P P P H H H H
8, 8 P P P P P P P P P P
9, 9 P P P P P S P P S S
A, A P P P P P P P P P P

Dealer Hits on Soft 17

Hard 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A
4-8 H H H H H H H H H H
9 H Dh Dh Dh Dh H H H H H
10 Dh Dh Dh Dh Dh Dh Dh Dh H H
11 Dh Dh Dh Dh Dh Dh Dh Dh Dh Dh
12 H H S S S H H H H H
13 S S S S S H H H H H
14 S S S S S H H H H H
15 S S S S S H H H Rh Rh
16 S S S S S H H Rh Rh Rh
17 S S S S S S S S S Rs
18+ S S S S S S S S S S
Soft 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A
13 H H H Dh Dh H H H H H
14 H H H Dh Dh H H H H H
15 H H Dh Dh Dh H H H H H
16 H H Dh Dh Dh H H H H H
17 H Dh Dh Dh Dh H H H H H
18 Ds Ds Ds Ds Ds S S H H H
19 S S S S Ds S S S S S
20+ S S S S S S S S S S
Splits 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A
2, 2 Ph Ph P P P P H H H H
3, 3 Ph Ph P P P P H H H H
4, 4 H H H Ph Ph H H H H H
6, 6 Ph P P P P H H H H H
7, 7 P P P P P P H H H H
8, 8 P P P P P P P P P Rp
9, 9 P P P P P S P P S S
A, A P P P P P P P P P P

Counting Cards in Blackjack: Players’ Favorite

Card counting is one of the best ways to approach the game. A basic blackjack strategy won’t teach you about card counting since this strategy takes a fair bit of understanding on how to tag cards, crunch odds, and follow through with what the dealer is showing each round. 

You also have to be aware that if you start betting and winning too much, the casino will start sending complimentary drinks, and the dealer will chat you up more often. When this happens, it means you are being vetted by the Sky in the Eye and the security teams casinos hire to spot card counters.

Oftentimes, the people calling the shots are former card counters. The best blackjack counting strategy really isn’t difficult to comprehend in principle, though. You basically assign values to each card in the deck as per the Hi-Low System. Now, since you cannot have 15 values assigned, you will use “blanket values” to categorize a group of few cards at a time, as follows:

  • 2-6: -1 
  • 10, J, Q, K, and Ace: +1 
  • 7, 8, and 9: 0

Once you have these assigned in your mind and the dealer deals the first cards, you can start crunching the numbers adding from a baseline of 0. The 0 is reintroduced every time the dealer decides to shuffle. Basically, you are following the (+) and (-) to determine what cards are left in the deck, i.e., low or high cards, and act accordingly. 

You can have a “spotter” who waits for the table to get “hot” before signaling you to come and join because they know that the deck contains favorable cards. 

Blackjack Strategy FAQ 

Does blackjack offer the best house edge of all casino games?

Yes. Blackjack offers the highest percentage chance for players to win. There is usually a 0.5-0.6% house edge that is inherent to all blackjack games. However, blackjack allows you to study the game with the precision that in turn gives you a very strong chance to win at both a retail and digital casino.

What do players mean by “Las Vegas rules” blackjack? 

Las Vegas rules blackjack is a common term that describes the game that is available in Downtown Las Vegas. That includes the availability of insurance bet, re-split options, and a double down rule on players’ first two cards. The dealer has to stand on soft 17, which leads to slightly better overall odds for the players. 

Can blackjack strategies vary from one game to the next?

Yes. Blackjack strategies will vary slightly as you try different games. A quick look through our charts will show some slight differences in the single deck and multi-deck blackjack strategy. With this said, there can be only one optimal strategy for each game, as the cards boil down to mathematical probability.

What game should I look for – single deck or multi-deck?

This depends. When playing online, there is really not much difference because you will use blackjack charts. Of course, you still need to factor in whether a dealer will hit soft 17’s or whether they stand. However, you can always refer to the charts in real-time. A single-deck game, though, is better to bet on if you are trying to count cards. Card counting is a great way to make money in the long run, but beware that each casino is looking to identify and expel card counters from the gaming floor.

Can I use blackjack strategy charts and cheat sheets in a Las Vegas casino?

Yes. You can actually bring a blackjack strategy chart to your Las Vegas casino with you. That is a common practice on The Strip. It’s good to double-check with the dealer first, but ultimately you should be allowed to play with a chart next to you.

Is card counting legal in casinos?

Yes. You can count cards legally in any casino in Las Vegas. The only downside is that, since you beat the house edge, casino security is going to ask you to leave if they suspect you are counting cards.

Can I win more by counting cards?

Yes. Not only is it theoretically possible to, but it’s been proven time and again. There are entire crews that used to play at casinos throughout the 80s and 90s that cost properties millions. The most famous of those is the MIT team.

What is the best card counting strategy in blackjack?

Card counting is fairly basic and straightforward math exercised over the course of thousands of hands without erring. There are at least two viable card counting strategies where you just assign value to cards and start tracking what the most likely outcome of the next dealer’s hand would be.

Can you count cards at online casinos?

No. Online casino games operate based on a slightly different model. There, you no longer have cards that leave the deck. Rather, the cards are shuffled again after each hand dealt. Counting cards in online casino blackjack doesn’t work. Strategy charts are helpful, though, as they are unaffected by the shuffling. 

Is the insurance bet actually worth anything? 

No. Generally speaking, you do not want to take an insurance bet. It’s better to act on a bet or forfeit your hand than investing more money, which will be lost anyway. The payout is small and doesn’t justify betting on insurance.

Is there “secret sauce” to always winning at blackjack?

No. You will always be at the mercy of your knowledge and understanding of the game. Even the strategy charts won’t be 100% accurate because of the 0.5% house edge. 

2 Comments

  • Mmilly25
    September 1, 2021 at 1:19 pm

    Why do other players at the table get mad and say I took their card? How do I prevent them from bullying me and ruining my self esteem?

  • Christopher Young
    September 14, 2021 at 7:07 pm

    You probably split 10’s or something like that or you hit a hand that you technically should’ve stood on

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