Blackjack Basic Strategy
Throughout the twentieth century, scientists and mathematicians studied the game of blackjack by looking purely at the numbers. Using computer technology, these researchers took on the challenge of breaking blackjack. The result: basic blackjack strategy. Read on to learn how the strategy works, and how you can use it to minimize the house's statistical advantage.
What is it?
Blackjack is, largely, a game of skill. You are presented only with limited information, and you need to make decisions based on that information. Do I hit or stand? Should I double down, or is splitting worthwhile? Basic strategy takes all of the variables, and then tells you exactly what you should do.
The strategy went through years of tinkering and computer simulation to become the final product that it is today. Basic blackjack strategy is presented in a table. On one axis, the table shows the dealers up-card. On the other, your possible hands are presented. When you match up the x-axis and the y-axis, you'll find exactly what you should do.
There is more than one blackjack strategy table available for use. To decide which table is necessary you need to know how many decks of cards are in the shoe and whether or not the dealer hits on soft seventeen's. Click the links below to check out all of the strategy tables. Each page includes two tables: one for each type of dealer.
Learning The Strategy
If you haven't already checked out the strategy tables, click on the links above, and take a look. If you are like most people, you're probably thinking that this is an overwhelming amount of information. After all, making even a single mistake could negate the entire strategy. How are you supposed to memorize it all?
If you sit down and try to memorize each of the tables, you probably won't have any luck. Instead, you should look at the tables and try to understand why they work. Once you see the underlying ideas, it will be much easier to memorize the patterns that emerge.
Even though you'll need to spend some time studying the strategy tables, there is no substitute for real practice. After playing a few hundred hands, focusing entirely upon basic strategy, you'll start to develop the blackjack-player instinct.
Translate The Tables
One of the best ways to really learn the strategy is to write it down in full sentences, while focusing on the broad patters. The fewer words you use, the better. For instance "If you have a pair of eights or aces, you always split" and "if you have a pair of tens, always stand". For a great overview of the patterns that emerge from basic strategy, check out the article titled Blackjack Instructions.
Once you've translated the tables into English, you can turn the phrases into flash cards and other study tools. By doing this, you aren't just memorizing symbols and numbers; you have to apply real meaning to the table. This is one of the best methods for internalizing the material, and for most players, it is the only way to thoroughly learn basic blackjack strategy.
Is The Strategy Worth Learning?
For most players, learning basic strategy is the single best decision they can make. If you follow the strategy perfectly, in the long run, the house's edge is cut to a mere 0.50%. This is lower than almost any other game on the casino floor. Also, learning the basic strategy is essential if you want to pursue future goals of card counting. In almost every case, players will be better off if they can master the strategy tables.
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