Best Basic Blackjack Strategy & Advanced Tips

The best blackjack strategy makes use of your blackjack skills to beat the house edge. Mastering the blackjack chart of probabilities gives you an edge against your competition.

This blackjack guide gives you the basics of this classic online casino game and offers practical tips on how to use blackjack strategy to your advantage.

Page Contents

Rules of Online Blackjack

Before we explore blackjack basic strategy, here’s a brief overview of how to play.

The aim of the game is to beat the dealer or croupier and win a return on your wager by scoring a total card value as close to 21 without going over.

Twenty-one is a blackjack, but anything 22 and over is a bust, or an automatic loss. Since you’re playing against the dealer for the best score possible, you also can win automatically if the dealer’s hand busts.

Each turn, the player chooses to either:

  • Hit — request an additional card
  • Stand — receive no further cards

At some point, you either achieve a winning hand or go over 21. Too many people learning blackjack online think that the object of the game is to get as close to 21 without going over. Always remember that your object is to beat the blackjack dealer.

If you beat the dealer, you win whatever you bet on the hand. Online blackjack games are normally paid at odds of 3:2. And, if you tie with the dealer without going over 21, that’s known as a push and your bet is returned to you.

Online Blackjack Card Values

Here are the values for the different cards in the deck:

  • 2 through 9: Points are awarded at face value (2’s equal 2 points, 3’s equal 3 points, etc.)

  • 10’s, Jacks, Queens, Kings: 10 points

  • Aces: 1 or 11 points

When it comes to Aces, you want to use whatever value helps your hand the most. For example, sometimes it’s better for the value to be 1 point if 11 points would cause you to bust. But if the 11 provides a value that you think beats the dealer, you might be better off using that.

Blackjack Guide Glossary

Below is a guide to common blackjack terminology used by dealers and players:

Term Definition


Money that you designate specifically for gambling.

Burn Card

It is the first card drawn from the deck and discarded face down taking it out of play.


This occurs when a hand exceeds 21. It is an automatic loss of your bet.

Card Counting

A system of tracking the cards in the deck to overcome the casino house edge.

Deck Penetration

How many cards are dealt before the next shuffle. This is also an important factor in card counting.

Double Down

The option to double your bet before the second card is dealt.

Face Cards

The Kings, Queens, and Jacks in the deck.

Flat Betting

When you bet the same amount for every hand.

Hard Hand

A hand that lacks an Ace, or a hand with a high enough value that the Ace has to be counted as a 1, instead of an 11.

Heads Up

When there is only one player at the table.


When you request another card from the dealer to increase your chance of hitting 21.

House Edge

The casino’s advantage over a period of time. Typically it is expressed as a percentage.


A two card hand that equals 21.


A term used to describe face cards.


When you and the dealer tie and no one busts. Neither you or the dealer wins or loses on a push.

Soft Hand

A hand with one or more Ace cards. They can be used as either a 1 or an 11.


When you receive a bad hand, you can forfeit and receive half your wager back. You must surrender before taking any further action.

Up Card

The dealers face-up card.

As you gain more experience playing blackjack, understanding these terms will come naturally.

How a Typical Blackjack Game Works

  1. A blackjack table has designated “hitting rules” the dealer must observe. For instance, you’ll often see “Dealer Must Hit Soft 17.” Here, a dealer will hit if the total score of their cards are 16 or lower. They will keep doing so until they get 17 or higher.

  2. The dealer deals each guest two cards face-up. They also deal themselves two cards, with the second card face-down.

  3. The gamblers take turns. If your total score is 21, then you win automatically and the dealer pays you.

  4. Otherwise, you can either, A) opt to stand if you feel you’re close to 21, or B) hit if you feel you need another card to get closer to 21.

  5. If your new total exceeds 21, you lose. Otherwise, you wait until your next turn. Either way, the other players (if any) take their turns next.

There are other play options available if:

  1. You have a pair. You can split your cards and add a second bet. The dealer deals a card for each hand, and you opt to hit or stand if the score isn’t 21.
  2. You want insurance. If your hand is 15 or more, you feel the dealer has a blackjack, or if the dealer is showing an Ace, you can take a side bet equal to your original bet. However, if the dealer has blackjack, you lose your original bet but win the blackjack insurance bet that pays 2:1. If the dealer does not have blackjack, your insurance bet is lost, however, the hand continues as normal.

After the gamblers have taken their turn, the dealer reveals their card. The following scenarios can occur:

The dealer gets a blackjack

You lose your original bet but win your side bet.

If the dealer gets 16 or lower

They continue hitting until they reach a score of 17 or higher. If the dealer’s total busts or is lower than yours, you win.

If the dealer's score is equal to yours

It’s a tie.

For more details, check out our in-depth guide on how to play online blackjack.

Types of Blackjack Strategies

This blackjack basic strategy tool is a simple table with rows and columns. There are two main rows, with the left representing the player’s hand and the right the dealer’s up-card.

The dealer’s row is further subdivided into columns corresponding to card values of ace through to 10. On the other hand, the player row is subdivided into rows with possible player’s hand outcomes.

The rest of the table is mapped with all the possible actions you can take.

When reading it, start with the player’s hand on the left row and check against the dealer’s up-card on the right. Then, move across the player’s hand row and down the dealer’s up-card column. The action corresponding to the point where the row and column meet is the right decision to make.

4-to-8-Deck Blackjack Strategy

Nowadays, it’s rare for casinos to offer single-deck blackjack games. In cases where it’s available, the cards are reshuffled multiple times. Therefore you will require a different strategy than when playing multi-deck blackjack variants.

Below are various decisions that apply to the 4-deck-to-8-deck blackjack strategy:


  • On hard 16 unless it’s a hard 15 against dealer’s 10, or it’s a pair of 8 against dealer’s 9,10, or ace.


  • Ace-ace and 8-8 pairs.

  • 2-2 and 3-3 against dealer’s 4-7, and 2 or 3 if double after split is allowed.

  • 4-4 only if double after split is allowed, and against dealer’s 5 or 6.

  • 6-6 against dealer’s 3-6, and 2 if double after split is allowed.

  • 7-7 against dealer’s 2-7.

  • 9-9 against dealer’s 2-6 or 8-9.

  • Never split 5-5 or 10-10.


Doubling is optimal on:

  • Hard 9 against dealer’s 3-6.

  • Hard 10 unless dealers up-card is 10 or an ace.

  • Hard 11 unless dealer’s up-card is an ace.

  • Soft 13 or 14 against dealer’s 5-6.

  • Soft 15 or 16 against dealer’ 4-6.

  • Soft 17 or 18 against dealer’s 3-6.


  • On hard 11 or less.

  • On soft 17 or less.


  • On hard 17 or more.

  • On soft 19 or more.

  • On soft 18 unless it’s against dealer’s 9, 10, or ace.

  • On hard 13-16 against dealer’s 2-6, otherwise Hit.

  • On hard 12 against dealer’s 4-6, otherwise Hit.

The following abbreviations are used to represent the actions described above:

  • H– Hit
  • S – Stand
  • Dh – Double if allowed, otherwise Hit
  • Ds – Double if allowed, otherwise Stand
  • P – Split
  • Ph – Split if double after split is allowed, otherwise Hit
  • Rh – Surrender if allowed, otherwise Hit
  • Rs – Surrender if allowed, otherwise Stand
  • Rp – Surrender if allowed, otherwise Split

In addition to the above actions, here are the rules you should observe when practicing the best multi-deck blackjack strategy:

  • Avoid insurance or “even money” bets.
  • Treat your hand a hard total of 10 or 20 if splitting fives and tens aren’t allowed.
  • If you have exhausted your splitting limit, treat your hand as a hard total, but for aces. If you have a pair of aces, and the casino allows drawing to split aces, double against the dealer’s 6, otherwise hit. 

Single-Deck Blackjack Strategy

As the name suggests, this strategy is applicable for single-deck blackjack with 52 cards. Hence, every card has a big impact on the game’s outcome.

The following rules apply in a single-deck blackjack strategy:

  • The dealer shuffles a 52-card deck once at the beginning of the game.

  • You can split a blackjack hand up to three times.

  • Dealer must hit soft 17.

  • You can split ace pairs, and get an additional card for each but aren’t allowed to split the hands further.

  • If a split ace gets a 10, it’s not a blackjack card.

  • The dealer shuffles a 52-card deck once at the beginning of the game. You can split a blackjack hand up to three times. Dealer must hit soft 17 You can split ace pairs, and get an additional card for each but aren’t allowed to split the hands further. However, if a split ace gets a 10, it’s not a blackjack card. The bets in single-deck blackjack payout as follows – Blackjack 3:2, Insurance bet 2:1, and other winning hands 1:1.

The single-deck blackjack strategy offers the following actions for various play decisions.


  • Hit on all pairs except for aces, 8,9, or 10.

  • Hit on soft hands except for A-10, A-9, and A-8.

  • Hit on hard hands except for 17 through 21.


  • Stand on soft hands of A-9 and A-10.

  • Stand on hard hands of 17-21.

  • Stand on 2, 7, and 8 if the player’s hand has A-7 and dealer’s up-card shows 3-6.

  • Stand on 10-10 pair.


After determining the dealer’s up-card, double your bet in the following scenarios:

  • If the dealer’s up-card shows 2 through 9, and you have a 5-5 pair.

  • On soft hands if player and dealer show 2-6, 3-6, 4-6, and a 6.

  • On hard hands except for 5-7 and 17-21, which you should Hit and Stand, respectively.

Pair Splitting

Pair splitting is a blackjack strategy that can be highly rewarding. However, you must know the best time to make this decision.

We recommend the following rules for pair splitting:

  • Always Split on ace-ace and 8-8 pairs

  • Always Stand on 10-10 pair

  • Split on 9-9 pair if the dealer’s up-card shows 2-6, 8-9, otherwise stand

  • Split on 7-7 pair if the dealer’s up-card shows 2-7, Hit on A, 8, and 9, and Stand on 10

  • Split on 6-6 pairs if the dealer’s up-card shows 2-7, otherwise Hit

  • Double on 5-5 pair if the dealer’s up-card shows 2-9, and Hit on 10 and aces

  • Split on 4-4 pairs if the dealer’s up-card shows 4-6, otherwise Hit

  • Split on 3-3 pairs if the dealer’s up-card shows 4-7, otherwise Hit

  • Split on 2-2 pairs if the dealer’s up-card shows 3-7, otherwise Hit

A single-deck blackjack strategy has abbreviations for various actions as listed below:

  • H – Hit
  • S – Stand
  • Dh – Double if allowed, otherwise Hit
  • Ds – Double if allowed, otherwise Stand
  • P – Split
  • Ph – Split if “double after Split” is allowed, otherwise Hit
  • Pd – Split if “double after Split” is allowed, otherwise Double
  • Rh – Surrender if allowed, otherwise Hit
  • Rs – Surrender if allowed, otherwise Stand

Blackjack Basic Strategy

You need more than lady luck to beat professional blackjack players. That’s where blackjack strategy cards come in handy.

They outline for you exactly what action you should take against the dealer’s up-card. Then, you make decisions that statistically increase your chances of higher hand totals without going over 21.

This helpful tool outlines a series of decisions you should make when you receive the first two cards. Below is a quick outline of your options. You can learn other blackjack strategies once you advance beyond these basics.

When to Surrender in Blackjack

The decision to surrender is available at tables that allow the dealer to hit on soft 17. In these cases, you should surrender on your first two cards if:

  • You have 16 against a dealer’s ace through 9
  • You have 15 against the dealer’s 10

When to Split in Blackjack

If surrender isn’t an option on your first two cards, the next decision is to split. Note that you can only split pairs or a king and a jack with a value of 10 each. 

When to Double in Blackjack

If you don’t have a pair or two cards with a value of 10 each, consider doubling your bet. However, some casinos may restrict doubling to specific hands. 

When to Stand in Blackjack

If none of the above actions are favorable, the best decision according to basic blackjack strategy is to stand or hit.

Blackjack Bankroll Management

If you don’t manage your bankroll correctly, you could find yourself losing it before you hit an online blackjack hot streak. Follow these basic tips to help you manage your blackjack bankroll:

  • Know What You Can Afford to Lose: Anytime you start an online blackjack game practice money management and set an amount that you are willing to lose. Once you’ve lost that amount, stop playing.

  • Don’t Chase Your Losses: Don’t make the mistake of using more money to continue playing once you’ve lost your initial stash.

Too many amateur gamblers fall for the fallacy that their luck is about to change. In reality, the odds you have of winning any specific hand of online blackjack never really change. The best blackjack betting strategy can only help you to a certain extent. After that, the luck of the draw is the driving force between winning and losing.

Putting in a Stop for Online Blackjack Winnings

When you get on a hot streak while playing blackjack online for money, it can be tempting to ride it out for as long as possible. If you do that, however, you run the risk of losing all the gains that you earned. In many ways, that can be just as frustrating as losing everything.

To prevent this, begin play with a self-imposed stop in mind for online blackjack. For example, you might put in a stop at 50% of your original online blackjack bankroll. For a $100 bankroll, that means that the stop would come into play once you win $50.

When you reach that point, you could stop playing and put that $50 back in your overall account before returning to play with the original $100. Or you can quit completely and be satisfied with your online casino winnings. It’s a good way to ensure your online blackjack profit is protected.

Advanced Blackjack Strategy

You can still improve your blackjack basic strategy by incorporating card-counting techniques. This move allows you to reduce the house blackjack advantage and improve your chances of winning.

How to Count Cards in Blackjack

Let’s start by laying out the basic theory of how to count cards:

  • The more aces, face cards (jacks, kings, queens), and tens remaining in the decks being used, the better it is for the player.
  • The more low-value cards (like twos, threes, fours, etc.) remaining in the decks being used, the better it is for the dealer.

This blackjack theory should play into how you bet particular hands. For example, if many face cards have been seen in previous hands compared to low cards, you might choose to lower your bet. And you would raise your standard bet if the reverse is true.

As a result, you have to keep track of which cards have been played by making a mental count. How you choose to do this depends on how involved you want to get.

Hi-Lo Card Counting

One of the popular card-counting techniques is Hi-Lo. This approach allows you to compute the player’s edge over the casino. A higher player’s edge means that your chances of winning are high. It’s okay to raise your bet at this point.

  • The Hi-Lo card counting system assigns high-value cards: (A, J, K, and Q) +1

  • Low-value cards: (2, 3, 4, 5, and 6) -1

  • Mid-value cards: (7,8, and 9) 0

  • A player must count all the cards dealt by the dealer by adding their individual values to obtain the running total

  • Divide the running total by the number of remaining decks to get the True Count. This value helps you determine the player’s edge over the casino. Your chances of winning are high when the True Count is a 2 or higher.

It’s important to note that this card-counting strategy takes some math skills and you should master it before you take a seat at a blackjack table to wager for money.

Benefits of Card Counting in Blackjack

As we said above, blackjack card counting online and in the casino should always be used with some sort of basic blackjack strategy method that you already have in place. Most blackjack basic strategy charts can bring you a payback percentage of over 99%.

What that means is that, on average, you’re winning back over 99% of your blackjack bankroll. It also means that you are losing a tiny percentage of that bankroll for blackjack over time.

However, it’s important to note that card counting is impossible when you’re playing online because of the use of Random Number Generator technology. While it can be fun to try and count the cards, it won’t bring you success on instant-play or live dealer games on the web.

Strategy for Blackjack Variants

One common mistake that beginning online blackjack players make is that they use the same strategy no matter what type of blackjack they’re playing. Games like Spanish 21, Blackjack Switch, European Blackjack, and Pontoon contain slight rule changes which can have a direct impact on your blackjack strategy.

You should be aware of these rules and shouldn’t commit to any game before knowing if they work in your favor. These factors cause the strategy to change slightly.

Variant Rules

  • Whether or not a dealer has to hit on a soft 17. A soft 17 is where there’s an ace in the hand being valued at 11 instead of 1. If the dealer has to stand on a soft 17, it is to the player’s advantage.

  • How much money is paid to the player on a blackjack – The standard amount is 3:2 payback for a 21 on the first two cards. But more and more casinos are lowering that to 6:5 or even lower, which hurts the player.

  • Splitting rules. The standby in blackjack is that a player can continue splitting cards until they have four hands. But some online blackjack games only allow three or even two hands after splitting. If a split is limited to once, it works against the player. Being able to split aces and eights multiple times works in your favor.

  • Doubling limitations. Many online games limit the hands on which a player can double his bet. If you can double liberally, it will help your payback if you know when to make that extra bet.

  • Insurance and surrender. Surrendering can be an effective option for players to cut their losses when they’re behind the dealer. Insurance is less valuable, but there might be occasions where it makes sense. In any case, your strategy will have to include these options if the version of blackjack you’re playing online includes them.

  • Whether a live dealer is involved or not – With live dealers, you can sometimes utilize card counting to help boost your payback. That’s something you won’t be able to do if the dealer is automatic, because, in those cases, reshuffling takes place after every hand and makes card counting irrelevant.

How to Start Playing Blackjack Online

The first thing you have to do to play online blackjack is to create an account at a casino online. You’ll then have to fund your account so that you can create a bankroll. Finally, you might have the option to download software, although many online casinos let you play via a browser or a mobile app.

Once you begin playing blackjack online, you’ll see icons that let you raise and lower your bet. You’ll see an icon to deal the cards, and you’ll likely see one that allows you to bet the same amount as the previous hand and deal, which can quicken the pace of your play. As you play the hand, there will be icons available for all the major player options available to you to click on as needed.

Where You Can Play Blackjack Online

Tips for Using Your Blackjack Strategy

  1. If you’re new to using blackjack strategy, start by picking a strategy that makes sense to you. It’s better to master a simple plan first than to totally botch an advanced strategy that’s over your head.
  2. Memorize them and use free online blackjack games to hone your skills.
  3. There are many blackjack variants out there. Choose one that you understand and are comfortable playing.
  4. Take advantage of casino bonuses and promotions. Such offers further lower the casino house edge and improve your chances of winning.
  5. Stick with your plan. There are mathematical reasons why you should learn standard blackjack strategies, and a few unlucky rounds doesn’t make them wrong.

Blackjack Strategy FAQs

  • No. Blackjack is not like poker in that respect. You only have to worry about beating the dealer’s hand.

  • No. You can raise or lower your bet at any time. Most gambling sites have a minimum and maximum wager allowed, however, so you are limited in that respect.

  • That depends. If you’re playing an online blackjack game with an automatic dealer, there’s no advantage in blackjack card counting online. That’s because the deck reshuffles after every hand.
    If, however, you can find an online blackjack game with a live dealer, card counting online could work. Most of these blackjack games reshuffle more often than a live game in a casino. But you might be able to provide yourself with a slight edge.

  • Yes, you can. If you’re a beginner and want to get things just right with each hand, feel free to have your online blackjack strategy information nearby.

  • It depends on what you’re looking for from them. If you want a way to win more money in a short period of time while playing blackjack online, then yes, they are. Look for ones that can give you a sudden, significant boost in your bankroll with a lucky deal.
    But if you’re looking to make money in the long term, side bets are a losing proposition. The house edge for every one of them is significantly higher than it is for simple online blackjack. You’ll most likely be hurting your overall payback if you play side bets with regularity.

  • This depends on how advanced you want your strategy to be. For basic blackjack strategy, splitting aces and eights, which you’ll usually hear as advice from even casual players, is a definite. The reason is simple math. Splitting aces gives you a chance at possible blackjacks on two hands. And a pair of eights gives you 16, which is an awful total for the player. Splitting the eights allows you to avoid that.

    However, if you’re the type to count cards, you might find occasions where it isn’t a good idea to split aces and eights. As you’ll see when we talk about online vs. casino blackjack, card counting doesn’t provide much of an edge in an online setting. In other words, splitting aces and eights will be the right play in the vast majority of situations. This is one case where the popular advice is correct.

  • For those who are new to playing blackjack at online casinos, insurance is a bet you can make to help prevent taking a loss when a dealer has a chance at blackjack. When the dealer is showing an ace, you can make the bet and receive 2:1 payback if the dealer has blackjack. If they don’t, you lose the insurance bet.

    When you do that math of all the possible outcomes and the cost of making the bet, you’re hurting your payback by making the insurance wager. As is the case with the aces and eights example above, there are times when insurance becomes a good play depending on card counting principles. But that won’t come into play often in online blackjack. Just say no to insurance.