Casino Gambling Guide

Blackjack strategy

In 1956 four US army technicians, Roger Baldwin, Wilbert Cantey, Herbert Maisel and James McDermott published an article in the 'Journal of the American Statistical Association' which was titled 'The optimum strategy in Blackjack'. Using statistical analysis the authors developed a blackjack strategy which maximizes the player's average or expected gain, when playing blackjack. Today this strategy is more commonly referred to as 'Basic Strategy'.

In 1961 Edward Thorpe published his famous book 'Beat the dealer' in which he refines Basic Blackjack Strategy. In 1966, the 2nd edition of 'Beat the dealer' was published, in which the first correct version of Basic Blackjack Strategy' appears, based on the results of simulations computed on a IBM 704/709 computer by Julian Braun, a programmer working for IBM corporation. Using Basic Blackjack Strategy when playing blackjack can reduce the house edge well below 1%.

The publication of 'Beat the Dealer' lead to a sharp decline in casino blackjack profits. As a consequence, Basic Blackjack Strategy led casinos to develop variations in blackjack rules, with the intend to diminish the potential gains for a player using Basic Blackjack Strategy. For example, some casinos do not demand the dealer to stand on soft 17, or do not allow to double down after a split. More importantly, the number of decks the cards are dealt from, has increased from 1 in the early days, to 4 or more decks nowadays.

Tip: Both Cryptologic and Boss Media offer a single deck Blackjack game. The house edge on the former approaches zero, and on the latter it's actually slightly in favor of the player. Microgaming offers a variety of Blackjack variants, ranging from two to eight decks.

'Basic Strategy' charts on the Internet

Every variation in blackjack rules corresponds to a variant of Basic Blackjack Strategy, that dictates the optimal play for that specific variation. Basic Blackjack Strategy charts are widely and often for free available on the Internet.

Provided you know the rules for a particular blackjack variant, you can generate the corresponding Basic Blackjack Strategy chart, using the 'Basic Strategy Engine' found at Another useful site is, where you can find pre-generated Basic Blackjack Strategy charts for each major software brand of online casinos. You can find out the software brand of an online casino by right clicking on the executable (.exe) that starts the casino, and looking up the name of the brand in the version tab.

Check out our Basic Strategy Chart for a blackjack game played with a shoe of 4 or more decks, where the dealer stands on soft 17 or above, and hits on 16 or below.

Blackjack strategy tips

Always play according to the Basic Blackjack Strategy chart applying to the particular game of blackjack you are playing.

Look for a game with the smallest number of decks in a shoe.
Look for a game with a payout of 2 to 1 for a blackjack.
Look for a game with the option to surrender. Early surrender is preferred above late surrender.
Look for a game that allows to double down on *any* number of cards.
Look for a game that allows to double down after splitting pairs.
Look for a game where the dealer stands on soft 17.
When evaluating a particular game of blackjack take all rules in account, as some favorable rules will be compensated by other, less favorable, ones.
Never take the insurance bet, unless you know how to count cards.
Counting cards makes no sense at online casinos.

Related topics

Blackjack rules
Blackjack strategy
Basic strategy chart
Blackjack card counting
High Low system
6/5 Blackjack
Blackjack lessons
Free blackjack game


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