When you are learning how to play blackjack, the first thing you need to get under your belt is when to hit, when to stand, and when to double. A few basic rules of thumb can come in handy, but any serious player will benefit from examining (or even memorizing) what is known as a blackjack strategy card. Sometimes called a blackjack strategy table, or a blackjack strategy chart, this is basically a cross-reference of all the possible hands that can be dealt in a game of blackjack.
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? After all, you learned your multiplication tables (or maybe not) back in elementary school…and they weren’t even giving you better odds at the casino!
Well, keep a few things in mind: first of all, the rules change a little bit depending on how many decks are being used. Many places won’t even bother with single-deck blackjack any more, and the reason is obvious: because it gave you, the player, the best chance of winning! So in addition to the single-deck strategy card, you now have to familiarize yourself with the multiple deck strategy card.
Another thing to keep in mind: these aren’t the only things you need to know about blackjack. Far from it…blackjack can be a complex game, especially when played by masters. Because blackjack rewards skill more than nearly any other game, many techniques and strategies come into play that cannot be easily represented on a simple two-dimensional strategy card. No matter how well you’ve got these strategy cards memorized, you can still be easily beaten by a master of card counting…or by a simple night of bad luck.
However, with those gloomy words said, becoming familiar with a blackjack strategy card is still one of the single best ways to prepare yourself to succeed. If you can learn the basic blackjack strategy cards backwards and forwards, you’ll be amazed at how much better your odds will get.
First off, the basic single-deck blackjack strategy chart. Be sure to learn this one, as it contains the basic rules that any beginning blackjack player should know by heart.
No problem, right? Once you start to see the patterns and the basic rules that underlie blackjack strategy, that first chart will seem like second nature. It’s only when more cards, via a second deck (or more!) are added that the relationships become a little more complex. Many an intermediate player has carefully considered the mysteries illustrated in multiple deck blackjack strategy cards.
And it should go without saying that there are a number of options which change the relationships on a fundamental level. For example, will the dealer stand or hit on a soft 17? What are the house rules about doubling after a split? As you can see, even the most basic blackjack strategy card has various “hidden” variables which can change your experience of the game. No expert has ever depended on memorization alone; for every set of rules, there will be a situation that the rules just don’t fully anticipate.