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Basic Strategy

May 20, 2003 12:58 AM

The basic winning strategy for Blackjack, based on computer-generated studies, is given below. It tells the player when to hit, stand, double down or split pairs, depending on the dealer’s up card. Using basic strategy is not prohibited in casinos, and many dealers are allowed or even encouraged to advise gamblers as to how to properly play. In fact, most casinos don’t mind if players use a "crib sheet" that charts the strategy.

Hit or Stand: With a hard hand (no aces) against the dealer’s 7 or higher, the player should hit until he reaches at least 17. With a hard hand against the dealer’s 4, 5 or 6, stand on a 12 or higher; if against dealer’s 2 or 3, hit a 12. With a soft hand hit all totals of 17 or lower. Against a dealer’s 9 or 10, hit a soft 18.

Doubling Down: Double down on any 11, no matter what the dealer shows. Double down on 10 when dealer shows anything except a 10 (dealer’s "10" also includes face cards). Double down on 9 when dealer shows 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6. Double down on soft 17 (Ace-6) if dealer shows 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6. Double down on soft 18 (Ace-7) if dealer shows a 3, 4, 5 or 6. Double down on soft 13, 14, 15 or 16 against dealer’s 4, 5 or 6.

Splitting Pairs: Always split aces and 8-8. Never split 5-5 or 10-10. Split 4-4 against the dealer’s 5 or 6. Split 9-9 against the dealer’s 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 or 9. Split 7-7 against the dealer’s 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7. Split 6-6 against the dealer’s 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6. Split 2-2 and 3-3 against the dealer’s 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7.