Using an optimal blackjack strategy is crucial to achieving the high advertised payout percentage for which this variant is known. This is because the secret to blackjack’s popularity with both players and the casino is that almost no player makes the most of his or her winning chances. Payout percentages are quite limited in blackjack for novice players. However, by using the optimal strategy explained on this page, your chances are significantly increased.
In this article, you will find a table that will easily help you to apply the optimal blackjack strategy. Of course, we also explain step by step how to use this table. We also compare the other, more advanced blackjack strategies available. Moreover, we provide some useful tips for new players and answer all the frequently asked questions here.
Blackjack table as a basic blackjack strategy
Playing blackjack perfectly is quite easy by using a table. After all, blackjack is mainly about probability: based on the cards you are dealt and the dealer’s visible card, one can calculate the decision with the highest probability of winning for each situation.
How to play the optimal blackjack strategy
The basic strategy is the optimal strategy, because for each situation studied, millions of outcomes have been studied to determine the best decision each time. Below, we explain step by step how to use this table to determine the best strategy for blackjack:
- Print out the table so that you always have it to hand while playing. This is perfectly acceptable in casinos, both online casino and land based casino blackjack.
- Choose and start a blackjack game of your choice.
- Find on the left the value your two cards have together. Hard hands are cards without an ace, soft hands are cards with an ace. Note that when both cards have the same value, you should look at ‘pair’, because then the strategy differs.
- Look at the card the dealer is showing.
- Based on the combination of steps 3 and 4, find the ideal decision in the table.This could be taking an extra card (K), stopping/passing (S), double down (doubling your bet – D) or splitting your cards (V).
- If you took an extra card in the previous step, you can use the table again to determine the best decision for the new situation.
A simplified version of the basic strategy
Want to play on your mobile device and forget your blackjack strategy table? Then you can follow the following table basics to still maintain high winning chances:
- Do your two cards have a combined value of 9 or less? Then take one card.
- At a value of 10 or 11, it is best to double your bet, unless the card also shows 10 or 11 (then it is best to just take a card without increasing your bet).
- At a value of 13 through 16, you pass when the dealer shows a card lower than 7. If the dealer’s card is higher, you take another card.
- If you have a value of 17 or higher, you always pass, no matter what card the dealer shows.
Advanced blackjack strategies
In the next section of this article, we will discuss the most common casino blackjack strategies.
Most of these strategies are more about the size of your bet and other elements that you can combine with the blackjack table. So, by using the strategy that works best for you AND the table together, you increase your odds even more.
Blackjack strategy: Martingale
In the Martingale strategy, you double your bet each time you lose. Then when you do eventually win, you completely make up for your previous loss and also make a profit on top of that. For example, if you start with a bet of 1 dollar and only win on the fourth hand, you bet a total of 1 + 2 + 4 + 8 = 15 dollars. Because you win the last hand, you receive 16 dollars, still a small profit despite the fact that you only won 1 in 4 hands. Characteristics of the Martingale strategy:
- This strategy is mathematically foolproof, but still has some weaknesses.
- Most players do not have an infinite bankroll to keep doubling.
- Casinos apply a maximum bet to counteract this blackjack strategy bet.
- Players who want to use this strategy are best to start with as low a stake as possible.
- You can decide for yourself after which amount you will no longer double.
Blackjack strategy: D’Alembert
This strategy is attributed to Jean Le Rond d’Alembert, a French mathematician who also practiced philosophy later in life. Therefore, this strategy is a mixture of mathematical and philosophical principles. D’Alembert believed that there is balance in all areas of life, including bad luck and luck. Whoever just won, according to him, has a higher chance of losing right after. Those who just lost, according to him, have a higher chance of winning right after. Therefore, you increase your bet after a loss and decrease your bet after a win. Characteristics of the D’Alembert strategy:
- Unlike the Martingale strategy, you do not double your bet after a loss, but increase it by one betting unit (e.g., 1 dollar).
- After a win, you also don’t start over from the lowest bet, but lower your bet by only one betting unit.
- Although the stakes in this strategy can also be high, the risk is still lower than in the Martingale strategy.
- Unfortunately, in this strategy, a winning hand does not always make up for your previous losses.
Blackjack strategy: Labouchère
To use the Labouchère strategy, you need a sheet of paper. On it you write a number sequence that matches your bankroll. An example is 1-2-3-4-5. You then bet the sum of the first and last amount in your list. If you win, you delete these numbers; if you lose, you add this sum to the back of your list. The advantage of this strategy is the flexibility it offers. The disadvantage is that it sometimes gets a bit complicated. Below you will find an example explained step by step.
- You start with 1-2-3-4-5. The sum of 1 and 5 is 6, so that’s your bet.
- You lose, so you add 6 to the list. The new list is then 1-2-3-4-5-6. The new sum is 1 + 6 = 7.
- You win, so delete 1 and 6. The new list is now 2-3-4-5. You put in 2 + 5 = 7.
- You win, so delete 2 and 5. The new list is now 3-4. You bet 3 + 4 = 7.
- You lose, so add 7 to the list. The new sequence is 3-4-7. You now bet 3 + 7 = 10.
- You win, so only 4 remains. This is not enough for a sum, so you start back from 1-2-3-4-5. Optionally, you may also just bet the last digit (in this case, 4).
Blackjack strategy: the 1-3-2-6 system
This system is derived from the Paroli system that we explain further below, but has since become more popular with players. That’s because the system has a catchy name and it’s easy to apply. You start with 1 time your minimum bet (e.g. $1) and continue the sequence when you win. The full sequence, on a $1 bet, is $1 – $3 – $2 – $6. If you lose, you don’t finish the sequence but start the next hand back from the beginning. Features of the 1-3-2-6 system:
- It is an easy system to learn and apply.
- The financial risk is lower than for the Martingale strategy.
- However, unlike with the Martingale strategy, this system is not mathematically foolproof and players have mentioned varying results when using it.
- In offline casinos, where the minimum table stakes are higher, the system is more expensive than online. When the beginner tables of the casino are open, you can still play the series with a total of $24, but if not, playing the full series will cost $60 or even $120.
Blackjack strategy: Parlay
The Parlay strategy is a tactic in blackjack where you increase your bet when you win rather than when you lose, as is the case with most other strategies. The concept of this strategy is to minimize your own risk and maximize your winnings when playing with the house’s money. A possible Parlay sequence is 1-2-4-7-11-16, where you start over after each loss instead of continuing the sequence. Characteristics of the Parlay strategy:
- Unless you lose on the first two hands, you will finish each sequence with a profit.
- Moreover, the loss on the first two hands is quite limited.
- This strategy offers a psychological advantage. By seeing the winnings on the first hand as money from the casino that you have taken over to continue betting with, the eventual loss doesn’t hit as hard, especially if you have some of the amount left over.
- However, even this strategy is not mathematically foolproof.
Blackjack strategy: Paroli
There is a lot of debate about the origin of the Paroli system. One popular theory is that it originated with the French mathematician Blaise Pascal. Actually, it is a kind of reverse Martingale strategy. This is because in this strategy you double your bet every time you win, not when you lose. Characteristics of the Paroli strategy:
- The Paroli strategy can only be a profitable blackjack strategy under certain circumstances. The easiest way to win is to know when to stop. Otherwise, you will still end up ending the series with an (admittedly) small loss.
- Another way to win with this strategy is to rely on bonus payouts for blackjack and side bets that pay you more than double your bet.
- Based on instinct and sensing lucky and unlucky streaks, this strategy can be applied in combination with the Martingale strategy.
Other blackjack strategies
For blackjack at the casino, there are quite a few other strategies that players can try out, in addition to the ones we’ve already discussed above. The team is happy to provide the main ones:
- Oscar’s grind: a cautious blackjack strategy where you place 1 bet in the first two hands of the sequence and then increase your bet by 1 betting unit for each additional winning hand.
- Kelly criterion: a betting system where you always bet a certain percentage of your available bankroll.
- Fibonacci series: a betting system in which you always bet the sum of the previous two bets when losing and start over when winning. An example series is 1-1-2-3-5-8-13-21.
- Bet behind: This strategy is based on taking advantage of the luck of others. Instead of betting on your own hands, you bet on the hands of the players with the best luck. Tables where this is possible are called bet behind tables.
- Card counting: a strategy that can be combined with the basic strategy and betting strategies. When low cards are visible in many players, the probability of higher cards is higher and vice versa. This strategy works best at live tables with as many other players as possible.
Advantages and disadvantages of blackjack strategies
Some players prefer to play by feel rather than by strategy but players should take into account lower payout percentages. Below we list the main advantages and disadvantages of using blackjack strategies.
- Using basic strategy will greatly increase your chances of winning.
- The knowledge you gain about probability can come in handy in other casino games and even in everyday life.
- The advanced strategies can make the game not only more profitable but also more fun.
- Only the basic strategy and the Martingale strategy (which cannot be repeated endlessly) have been mathematically proven to increase your profits; in other words, the other strategies work more by feel.
- Learning the full blackjack table for basic strategy by heart is a challenge, so you need to have it physically on hand for quite a long time.
Best blackjack tactics to use for new players
Apart from the above strategies, there are also some blackjack tactics that players can try to further increase their odds. Below we give you the main tactics:
- Card counting. You don’t have to have a genius memory to do this, which can get you excluded from blackjack games. You can simply look at whether high or low cards were dealt in order to estimate what cards are still to come.
- Switching games. If a particular blackjack game doesn’t seem to pay out well or you keep getting unlucky, it’s best to try a different game.
- Switching dealerships. Do you always seem to have bad luck with a particular dealer? Feel free to move to another table or take a break of up to 20 minutes, after which the dealer will be replaced and you’ll hopefully have better luck.
Blackjack odds and odds of winning
The RTP or return to player, which indicates how much of the bet is returned to players, is very high in blackjack. Depending on the exact game rules for the dealer, it ranges from 99.40 to 99.60%. We recommend avoiding blackjack games with a lower RTP than that, as there is more than enough choice of games that do offer these percentages.
Despite this low house edge, you can find several blackjack games in almost any quality online casino. That’s because the above percentages are based on following basic strategy perfectly. For players who do not follow this, the RTP can be 90% or even lower.
An additional tip to keep the house edge as low as possible is to avoid the option of taking out insurance. This insurance against blackjack from the dealer is not worth the extra bet. If you stick to this and to basic strategy, you’ll soon find out that blackjack is one of the casino games with the highest chance of winning.
Five crucial strategy tips for blackjack
Ready to take your chances with blackjack? Then be sure to review these five quick tips that every player should know:
- Use a blackjack table to follow the optimal strategy until you know it by heart.
- The rules of the game are not the same in every blackjack game. The more advantageous the rules are for the dealer, the lower your chances of winning. So be sure to check the RTP before you start playing and avoid games with an RTP lower than 99.40%.
- You can use your bonus money to play at most online casinos, but your wagers usually do not count towards fulfilling your wagering requirements. So read the terms and conditions carefully and don’t hesitate to play slots with your blackjack winnings to clear your bonus.
- When using advanced strategies where you adjust your bet after each hand, it is best to choose blackjack games with the lowest possible minimum bet and the highest possible maximum bet.
- If you want to try counting cards, it is best to play in the live casino and take a seat at a table with as many other players as possible.
Practice blackjack strategy for free first
Blackjack has the potential to be one of the most profitable casino games, but first you need to master the optimal blackjack strategy. This strategy is based on probability and the simulation of millions of hands. You can easily apply the strategy via a table until you know all the optimal decisions by heart.
The optimal basic strategy via the table can be supplemented here with more advanced betting strategies. With the exception of the limited-use Martingale strategy, these are not mathematically foolproof, but they are the ideal strategy for limiting losses. Combined with instinct and a bit of luck, they can lead to great results.