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This is your comprehensive guide to blackjack strategy, the essential next step after you learn how to play blackjack. Blackjack is one of the most popular casino games for good reason – if you implement even the blackjack basic strategy, your odds of winning are the best you can find at the casino.

On top of every type of blackjack strategy, we also provide:

Here’s the ultimate blackjack strategy guide to help you win more every time you play.

Basic Blackjack Strategy – How To Think About Every Hand

The most basic strategy for real money blackjack is to assume the dealer is always hiding a 10 and drawing a 10. If the dealer has a nine, you can assume they’re hiding a 10. If the dealer has a four, you can assume the dealer will show a 10 and then draw a second 10.

There are many exceptions to this rule, but it’s a good way to think about it for beginners looking for the most basic blackjack strategy.

This basic blackjack strategy will become even more evident the more acquainted you become with the blackjack strategy chart.

Blackjack Strategy Chart

A blackjack strategy chart, also known as a blackjack strategy table, tells you exactly what to do based on your hand against the dealer’s card. It is a mathematically perfect system that guarantees you’re playing with the best possible odds. However, it does not ensure you’ll win all hands of blackjack. Even with mathematically-perfect strategy, the casino still has a slight edge over the player.

The proper blackjack strategy chart to use is the one that reflects the number of decks and whether the dealer hits or stays on a soft 17. The most common is 4 to 6 deck blackjack chart, dealer hits on soft 17. The second most common is single-deck blackjack chart, dealer stands on soft 17. Click which one you’re interested in for a closer look:

Blackjack Strategy Card

Practice Blackjack Strategy

Players can enjoy free blackjack online below to put blackjack basic strategy to work. It will become second nature in no time:

4 to 8 Deck Blackjack Dealer Hits on Soft 17 Blackjack Strategy Chart

Advanced Blackjack Strategy

1. Choose Blackjack with the Best Odds

The next puzzle piece to blackjack strategy is choosing the games with the best rules. There are tons of blackjack variations available, especially in online casinos. These variations all include different rules, different side bets, and cater to different play styles. While some may offer larger win potential through the usage of side bets and multipliers, if you’re looking for the absolute most optimized blackjack strategy, you should stick to games that offer some of the most player-friendly rules. We’ve listed some of the best to look out for below:

  • Dealer stands on a soft 17: This rule means that the dealer cannot hit if their hand is a soft 17. This gives you the advantage, as you can continue to play your hand however you’d like.
  • Blackjack Pays 2:1: This rule is self-explanatory. You want the best payout possible if you land a blackjack (ace + a ten or face card, giving you a starting total of 21).
  • Single Deck Blackjack: If possible, play a blackjack variation that only uses a single deck in the shoe. Many variations use 6 to 8 decks, which gives you less of an opportunity to win.
  • Double down allowed at any time: This is a great rule in that it gives you more options throughout a playing session. More options are always better, and some variations only allow you to double down on your first two cards.

There are many more rules to look out for, but the bottom line is choosing the best blackjack strategy based on rules will give you the best chance to win before you’re even dealt into the table.

2. Compare The Odds Of Each Variation

Most of the best online casinos offer several different versions of online blackjack. Golden Nugget Casino is the best example. Click the “i” button on the game to see the return to player (RTP) percentage. The higher the percentage, the better the odds of the game.

Keep in mind that all casino games (both online and in-person) give the house an edge over the player. So you’ll never see an RTP of 100% or more because that would mean the player has an advantage over the house.

But when you play blackjack, you can find RTP that’s as close to 100% as it gets. Just make sure you check the RTP before you start playing to lock in the best odds. For example, here are some of the RTP differences at Golden Nugget Casino:

  • Blackjack IGT: 99.60% RTP
  • Blackjack Classic: 99.59% RTP
  • Blazing 7s: 99.33% RTP
  • Zappit Blackjack: 98.87% RTP

The difference between IGT and Classic is negligible for most players. But the longer you play and the more you bet, the bigger the difference a high RTP can make. And the exotic variations like Blazing 7s and Zappit sacrifice great odds for special features, which make them fun to try but not the best bet in the long-term.

3. Blackjack Strategy When It Comes to Side Bets

If you’re looking to maintain the best odds of winning, the best blackjack strategy when it comes to side bets is avoiding them entirely. That being said, if you’re willing to risk more house edge, some side bets can offer quite the reward if they hit.

The most common side bet, 21+3, pays out if the dealer’s up card and the player’s first two cards combine to form a flush, straight, three-of-a-kind, or straight flush. There’s no real strategy to this side bet other than only wagering what you’re comfortable losing, but it does definitely sweeten the pot. In 21+3 Progressive Blackjack, for example, landing three-of-a-kind suited here pays out 100 to 1.

4. Consider Live Dealer Blackjack

When you play digital blackjack, all the decks are shuffled between each hand. But when you play Live Dealer blackjack, which involves real-life dealers live-streamed in from physical tables, the cards are dealt from a shoe until about two-thirds or three-quarters of the decks are played through. Then the cards are shuffled.

It’s distinctions like this that further the case that blackjack is a game of skill as well as a game of chance.

Why does that matter? Because cards worth ten and Aces are better for the player than cards worth six or less. And if the remaining decks have more tens and Aces than low-value cards, the more likely you can get on a hot streak.

This isn’t necessarily about card counting. Even if you’re not paying close attention to which cards have come out, you can still luck out with a hot deck. But when you play digital blackjack, each hand is made from the same number of cards every time.

5. Practice Responsible Gaming

This isn’t an obligatory section. It’s a genuinely crucial strategy. As mentioned, all casino games favor the house to some degree. That means if you play for long enough, you’re mathematically guaranteed to lose all your money. So it’s incredibly important to follow Responsible Gaming best practices, including:

  • Set a Strict Budget: Only play with what you can afford to lose, and stop immediately when you lose that amount. Then give yourself a nice break to reset (and avoid chasing losses).
  • Set a Strict Time Limit: One of the biggest indicators of a gambling problem is betting too often, particularly when betting has replaced things you otherwise regularly enjoy. 
  • Never Chase Losses: More often than not, trying to recuperate gambling losses by placing more bets means losing more money. Only play with what you can afford to lose, then stop when you hit it and wait until you can again afford to lose that much.
  • Keep Track of Your Betting: Whether on a notepad or a spreadsheet, make sure you know how much you’ve been spending on gambling. This helps to limit things considerably when you have net losses. But it’s also enjoyable to see firsthand exactly how much money you’ve won when you have net winnings.

Here’s our full Responsible Gaming guide to help you stay safe while playing.

Where to Implement Blackjack Strategy

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Games Like Blackjack

Blackjack Strategy FAQ

Use a blackjack strategy chart. While memorizing perfect blackjack strategy can be a very tall task due to the number of potential outcomes, using a blackjack strategy chart that matches the rules of the blackjack variation you’re playing will help you utilize the best strategy.

Stay if the dealer card is 6 or under, and hit if the dealer card is 7 or above. In most cases, the optimal strategy says to surrender if you have 16 and the dealer holds a 9, 10, or Ace, but if that’s not an option you should hit.

R means surrender on a blackjack strategy card. R can also be paired with other letters on a blackjack strategy chart, such as RS, which means surrender if you can, but stand if surrender isn’t an option.

It depends. Depending on the variation you’re playing, house edge with basic strategy could be as low as 0.5%.

Practice. Learning about blackjack basic strategy, strategy charts, and other tools helps, but the only way you’ll truly learn is if you put them into practice in real blackjack situations. Most legal online casinos offer demo modes for this purpose.

Follow your strategy, and don’t falter. At times, it may seem tempting to hit when basic strategy says stand or vice-versa, but if you stick with the strategy you’re more likely to win. Of course, as with any casino game, winning is never guaranteed.

About the Author

Craig Corbeels

Craig Corbeels

Craig Corbeels is a lead writer and gambling expert for He has been involved in the online gambling industry since 2013. Previously, he worked for Gamesys and Bally's Interactive as a copywriter and social media strategist for multiple North American online casinos.
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