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Basic Blackjack Strategy

By: Adam Baker, Monday August 18th 2008
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Basic blackjack strategy is concerned with when a player should hit (draw another card) and when he should stand (not draw another card).

The objective of blackjack is to reach a hand with a value greater than the value of the dealer's hand value without going over 21. In blackjack the cards two to nine take their face value, ten and the picture cards are valued at 10 and the ace can be valued at either 1 or 11. Basic blackjack strategy is decided by whether the player's existing hand value is a soft total or a hard total. In a soft total the ace takes the value of 11. An ace and a seven make a soft 18. The advantage of a soft total is that the ace can take the value 1 if later required. A total that is not a soft total is a hard total. A hard total either has no ace or the ace has to take the value of 1 to prevent the hand from busting.

The basic blackjack strategy for hard totals is as follows. When the present hand value of the player is 11 or less the player will not bust no matter what he draws. If he draws an ace, the ace will count as 1. Hence when the player's present hand value is 11 or less the player should hit at all times. On the other hand when the present hand value of the player is between 17 and 21 he needs to draw very small value cards in order not to bust. Hence basic blackjack strategy in this case dictates that the player should stand at all times.

When the present hand value of the player is between 12 and 16, the dealer's face up card decides the basic blackjack strategy. In this situation if the dealer's face up card is seven or higher then the odds are stacked against the player. Whether he stands or hits the chances of his losing are high. The player is just slightly better off if he hits and therefore this is the strategy that he should adopt. However, in this situation if the dealer's face up card is six or lower the chances of the dealer busting are very high. Hence basic blackjack strategy in this case dictates that the player should stand.

The basic blackjack strategy for soft totals is as follows. When the existing hand value of the player is a soft 17 or lower then the basic blackjack strategy dictates that the player should hit, because the value of the ace can always be changed to 1. When the existing hand value of the player is a soft 18 or more it is unlikely that the dealer will get a better hand. Hence the basic blackjack strategy dictates that the player should stand.

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