Basic Strategy 101 for Blackjack
If you want to win more at blackjack, you need to learn basic strategy. Mr Blackjack explains how basic strategy works and why you can trust it.
After learning the rules to blackjack, you'll want to pick up basic strategy. Many people talk about basic strategy but few players take the time to learn how it works and how to apply it to their games. This season will teach you how basic strategy works, why you can trust it, and how it will help you win more in blackjack.
When people talk about basic strategy, they're referring to a combination of actions that should be followed for any given hand in blackjack: hit, split, double down, surrender, and stand.
Basic strategy uses the mathematics of probability to determine which move will give you the best possible result based on your total card value and the dealer's up-card, for any hand in blackjack.
Basic strategy was created by four mathematicians in the 1950s: Roger Baldwin, Wilbert Cantey, Herbert Maisel, and James McDermott, also known as the Four Housemen of Aberdeen. These mathematicians used the US Army's simulations machines at the Aberdeen Proving Ground military base for 18 months to run through all possible hand scenarios in blackjack.
In 1957, they published their work in the book Playing Blackjack to Win: A New Strategy for the Game of 21. It's a classic book still read by players today and forms the foundations of basic strategy we know today.
We can trust the basic strategy these guys created because it's been mathematically proven to work.
In this series, we will show you how basic strategy will help you make better plays on the trickiest hands in blackjack.
We'll tell you why you make a specific move when you have 13 and the dealer is showing a 10 and when you make a different decision when you have 13 and the dealer is showing a 6. These math-based decisions will guide you through your blackjack journey and should help you make smarter decisions based on your head, not your gut.
Remember, blackjack is a game of chance and probability. Basic strategy is based on millions of simulated blackjack hands to determine which move will give you the best possible outcome in blackjack. But there is still variance in this game of chance. The unexpected can always happen.
So you may find yourself in a situation where the math does not always work out. You have to tell yourself that you are making the best decision with the information given to you, and maintain your emotional control.
Let’s look at these strategies more in-depth, shall we?
What this lesson covers
- How basic strategy was created
- How it helps you play blackjack smarter
- How to apply basic strategy to games
- Why players can trust basic strategy
Meet Mr Blackjack
With a career spanning two decades, Mathieu Blake knows his way around a blackjack table. He's taught and entertained over 100,000 subscribers on his YouTube channel NeverSplit10's . In this series he'll take you through basic strategy, card counting, and bankroll management. Take a seat with Mr Blackjack and become a winning player.
- Who created basic strategy for blackjack?
Four mathematicians called Roger Baldwin, Wilbert Cantey, Herbert Maisel, and James McDermott created blackjack basic strategy in the 1950s at the Aberdeen Proving Ground military base in the US. They became known as the ‘Four Horsemen of Aberdeen’ and published their work in the classic book Playing Blackjack to Win: A New Strategy for the Game of 21.
- Does blackjack basic strategy work?
Applying basic strategy reduces the casino’s edge, but it’s not enough to give players the advantage in blackjack. You need basic strategy and card counting to get an approximate 1% edge over the casino.
- What is the best blackjack strategy?
Players stand the best chance of winning if they learn basic strategy and card counting, and practice these skills before playing real money blackjack games. You can practice strategy with our free blackjack arcade, and our blackjack apps guide offers recommendations of the best apps to improve your card counting and strategy skills.
- Can I apply basic strategy to multi-hand blackjack games?
Yes — basic strategy applies to any hand in blackjack, regardless of how many hands you play simultaneously.
- How can beginner players apply basic strategy to blackjack games?
After you have learnt how to play blackjack, you can start applying basic strategy to your game by using charts. These cards tell you the best move to make at a glance, and will help you memorize basic strategy.
- Is basic strategy easy?
Basic strategy is easy to apply, but it does require memorization and practice, as well as an understanding of how a casino’s table rules can affect your blackjack odds.
- Does basic strategy change between single-deck and multi-deck blackjack games?
There are small differences due to the proportion of 10-value cards in the game. In single-deck games, you can stay on ‘stiff hands’ (12-16) more often, for instance.