Shortcuts to Learning Basic Blackjack Strategy

We all know that to optimize our winning potential in the game of blackjack, we need to learn and practice sound basic blackjack strategy in our game play. The problem with this for most beginners is that basic strategy offers us a matrix of 270 possible outcomes for a single hand, consisting of 10 dealer upcards on the left and 27 possible player hands on the right and most sites offering blackjack tips and advice will encourage you to memorize the strategy card. This is a somewhat daunting task and while rote memorization may be the recommendation of many, there are easier ways to commit the various plays to memory.

Here we'll look at a few shortcuts to basic blackjack strategy that you can use to improve your game while you practice memorizing the strategy card.

Begin with a single game

As a novice player, the best thing to do is to begin playing a single blackjack variant, the most common option and standard version of the game which is played on multiple decks and where the dealer stands on soft 17 should be your starting point. Once you master this, you can then attempt to play other types of online blackjack games with combinations of decks and additional rules.

Blackjack Strategy Card Blocking

Using the blackjack strategy card one is able to identify that blocks of decisions may be grouped together ‐ which means that you will not have to memorize every play. This means that you don't have to memorize each line, for example, instead of remembering "Double 11 against 2, Double 11 against 3" etc. simply memorize "Double 11 against every card except an Ace". This will help you to memorize 9 plays in one easy thought.

In following this memorization technique you will be able to condense the 270 outcomes into 26 simple plays ‐ making it a whole lot easier to play correctly but still enjoy the game.

In short, here's what you'll need to remember:

Hard Hands

Remember that Hard hands may or may not have an Ace ‐ but if they do, the Ace counts as 1 and not either 1 or 11.

  1. Always stand when you're holding cards with a value of 17 or more
  2. Double a 10 against any value except a 10 or Ace
  3. Always double a 9 against values of 3-6
  4. Always hit if your cards total less than 12
  5. Surrender 15 against a dealer 10
  6. Surrender 16 against a dealer 9 or higher
  7. Hit on any hand when facing a seven or higher
  8. Hit a 12 value hand against the dealer's 2 or 3

Soft Hands

A soft hand is any hand consisting of an Ace that is valued at 11. These are the strategy plays you will need to memorize when playing a soft hand:

  1. Always stand on a hand with a value or 19 or 20
  2. If your cards total 18 stand against the dealer's 7 or 8
  3. Hit when facing 7 or higher
  4. Double any hand against a 5 or 6
  5. Double soft 15-18 against a 4
  6. Double 17 or 18 against the dealer's 3
  7. Double 18 against 2


A pair in Blackjack is when two cards of the same value are dealt. When you are dealt a pair the following game play strategy is advisable:

  1. Split 8's and Aces
  2. Stand on a pair of 10's
  3. Double 5's against the dealer's 10 or less
  4. Stand when you hold 9's against 7, 10 or 11
  5. When facing an 8 or higher, hit anything except 9's
  6. When facing a 7, hit sixes and fours only
  7. When facing 4 or less, hit fours

In practice you'll find that the hard hand strategy plays are the easiest to memorize as they occur more frequently than the soft hands and pairs. When playing at an online casino, always practice your game in free play mode until you are comfortable enough to play blackjack for real money. This way you'll be able to work out the kinks in your game and reduce mistakes for free and then hit the tables with confidence.