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Best Strategy for Online Blackjack

When playing blackjack at an online casino, you can significantly reduce the house edge if you follow the optimal strategy.

This popular table game is available in almost every state via real money casino sites and social casinos. Blackjack offers a higher theoretical payout rate than slots, roulette, or baccarat, but only if you make the correct strategic decisions on each hand.

There is no way to guarantee success when playing blackjack, as there is always an inherent house edge built into the game. However, this guide will explain how to reduce that house edge as much as possible.

Basic blackjack strategy chart

Blackjack has a lower house edge than most other casino games. However, you only benefit from the low advantage if you make the right decision on each hand. As it turns out, there is a right way to play.

The blackjack rules have players try to assemble a group of cards with a sum closer to 21 than the dealer. To do so, you can hit or stand after your first two cards have been dealt, and you can also double down and split cards in certain circumstances. The catch is that you cannot go over 21, or you lose automatically – known as “busting.”

Knowing when to hit or stand, and when to double down and split cards, is the key to keeping to the minimum house edge and playing perfect blackjack.

The good news is that basic strategy for blackjack can be visualized in a concise manner. The card below is a complete guide for the optimal play in every single blackjack situation in which you may find yourself.

A Blackjack Cheat Sheet players can use as a strategy chart.

Furthermore, no online casinos or land-based properties have any issue with you using this card openly while you play. So, bookmark this page and feel free to refer to it whenever you play.

The importance of blackjack table selection

First, you need to select the best online blackjack table to improve your chances. These are some key points to bear in mind.

  • Most blackjack games are played with a six-deck shoe, but Single Deck Blackjack reduces the house edge by 0.47%.
  • The option to double down on any cards, rather than just on hands of 9, 10, or 11, cuts the house edge by 0.25%.
  • The ability to double down after splitting cards will reduce the house edge by 0.17%.
  • Permission to surrender late will knock another 0.07% off the house edge.
  • The option to re-split aces will take another 0.08% off the house edge.
  • If the dealer is required to always stand on a Soft 17 (ace and 6), it reduces the house edge by 0.2%.
  • Blackjack pays 3:2 on most games, but some pay only 6:5. Choosing a game with a 3:2 payout lowers the house edge by 1.39%.

To summarize, before you play, check how many decks are used, the payout on blackjack, and the rules on doubling down, splitting cards, and surrendering. It’s important to understand how these different elements help or hurt you.

Double down strategy

Doubling down is the best weapon in the arsenal of basic blackjack strategy. It allows you to double your bet amount when you are dealt a strong hand.

As you can see on the basic blackjack strategy card, there are several situations in which you should double down. However, in order to give a few rules of thumb, here are some circumstances in which you should always double down:

  • When you are dealt a hard 11
  • When you are dealt a 10 if the dealer’s up card is 9 or less
  • When you are dealt any soft combination (an ace plus a low card) between 12 and 17 if the dealer is showing a 5 or 6

Doubling down may seem a bit scary, but it is critical that you make use of this tool in order to counter the house edge in blackjack.

Splitting strategy

Most blackjack games allow you to split cards when you are dealt two of a kind. This decision often rests on the dealer’s up card—for instance, split 2s or 3s if the dealer is showing a 2 or 3—but here are some absolute situations that you might encounter, along with what to do:

Always split aces

If you are dealt two aces, always split them, irrespective of what the dealer is showing. Four in every 13 cards have a value of 10, so your chances of being dealt a 21 are strong if you split aces.

Always split eights

Your chances of winning with a hand of 16 are relatively low, so it is always best to split 8s. At that point, you could be dealt a 9, 10, jack, queen, king, or ace, giving you a stronger hand than 16.

Never split tens or face cards

You have the option of splitting any two cards of the same value. However, a 20 is a very strong hand, so it does not make sense to split 10s or face cards. If you split, you stand an 8 in 13 chance of being dealt a card with a value of less than 10, so it is best to stand with a hand of 20.

For similar reasons, you should never split 5s. A 10 gives you plenty of options, and your chances of receiving a bad card are quite high.

Never take insurance

Taking insurance is always a bad idea on a blackjack table.

This bet is offered if the dealer is showing an ace, and it results in a payout of 2:1 if successful. You can bet up to half your initial wager on the dealer ending up with the dreaded blackjack after the face down card is turned over, and the overall result would be a push.

However, the chances of the dealer turning over a card with a value of 10 are just four in 13, so this is an unappealing option. You can also end up losing your original bet along with your insurance wager, resulting in double misery.

Optimal strategy for blackjack variants

You will find many blackjack variants at online casinos. Most games follow the classic blackjack format, which has a high RTP rate, but there are some additional variants to consider. Let’s highlight a few important ones.

Blackjack Switch

This blackjack variant can have an RTP rate of up to 99.87% at online casinos. That is slightly higher than standard blackjack games.

In Blackjack Switch, you are dealt two hands, and you can switch the top cards between hands to improve your chances of success. However, natural blackjacks are only paid 1:1 instead of the standard 3:2, and your bet will result in a push rather than a win if the dealer receives a hard 22.

When you play Blackjack Switch, there are fewer occasions on which doubling down or splitting cards are beneficial. If switching cards will improve both hands, it is a no-brainer, but there are lots of borderline cases, so use the card below instead of the basic strategy card above.

Perfect Blackjack Pro

Perfect Blackjack Pro is a classic blackjack game with an additional side bet: Perfect Pairs. The bet is essentially that the first two cards dealt will be a pair.

The payout rates can vary, but you will typically be paid out at 6:1 for a mixed pair, 12:1 for a pair of the same color, and 25:1 for a perfect pair of the same suit.

The main game will typically have a 99.49% RTP rate, whereas the Perfect Pair side bet has a 93.9% RTP, resulting in a far higher house edge of 6.1%. As you’ll soon see, side bets are rarely worth playing.

This is a classic blackjack game, traditionally played with just two decks. That is good news for the player.

However, there are some subtle differences that may make European blackjack less appealing than American Blackjack. For instance, it has stricter rules on doubling down, as you can generally only do so on a hard 9, 10, or 11, and there may be fewer splitting options, too.

There is also no hole card for the dealer when you play European Blackjack. By contrast, if the dealer receives an ace, king, queen, jack, or 10 face up in American Blackjack, they will check for blackjack before you make your betting decisions.

Blackjack side bets strategy

Side bets are independent of the main game. They give you the chance to win larger payouts, but they tend to come with a significantly higher house edge, so they are almost always a bad idea.

We have already mentioned insurance and Perfect Pairs. These are some of the other common side bets available on blackjack games:

  • 21+3 | A wager that combines your first two cards and the dealer’s up-card to form various poker hands, such as a flush or a straight. If you win, you will be paid out according to the strength of the poker hand compiled. The house edge is variable, but it is often in the 5% to 10% range.
  • Lucky Ladies | A side bet on the value of your first two cards, with special payouts available if your hand totals 20 or you are dealt queens. It has a very high house edge, typically around 25%.
  • Over/Under 13 | A simple wager on whether your first two cards will go over 13 or stay under it. The over 13 bet has a 6.55% house edge, and the under 13 bet has a 10.07% house edge.

What is card counting?

Card counting is a blackjack strategy used to determine who holds the advantage on the next hand: the player or the dealer.

The basic idea is to keep a tally of which cards have been dealt as the dealer burns through the deck or through multiple decks in the shoe. You essentially assign a value to each card—for example, +1 for low cards and -1 for high cards—and maintain a running count.

You can then work out the true count, which requires you to divide the running count by the number of decks left in the shoe. When the true count is advantageous, stacking the odds in your favor, you’d increase your bet size.

Card counting in blackjack is legal. However, casinos are private entities, and they reserve the right to ban anyone found to be counting cards.

In addition, casinos take robust countermeasures to prevent card counting. For example, they use continuous shuffling machines to minimize its effectiveness, and pit bosses and other casino staff will also be trained to identify and remove potential card counters.

A final word on blackjack strategy

None of the strategic advice provided on this page will guarantee success when you play blackjack. However, you will improve your chances by making the optimal decisions on each hand, avoiding side bets, and choosing the games with the highest RTP rates.

We wish you the best of luck when you next visit the online blackjack table. In the meantime, you can work on your strategy and play blackjack for free.

Fact checked by
Adam Candee
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