Casino Blackjack & Online Blackjack Strategy: Focus on your Hand First
Let's start with the most basic online Blackjack strategy: pay close attention to your own hand. While the game's calling card is that it pits player against dealer, the most fundamental aspect of the game is getting as close to 21 as possible without going bust. When focusing solely on your own hand, your decisions will be more rational and less emotional. You will decide whether to hit or stand based on your odds of going over 21 instead of your desire to beat the dealer.
Casino Blackjack & Online Blackjack Strategy: When to Hit & When to Stand
If you approach the game from a place of logic rather than emotions, you will be better able to work within systems that can almost entirely erase the house edge. For example:
- If your first two cards total 11 or less, it is impossible for you to bust. In this case, you should always hit.
- With a hand total of 17 or more, you are extremely likely to bust (unless you are holding a soft Ace). Therefore you will (almost) always stand.
- Hands between 12 and 16 are a gray area that requires newer, more intuitive Blackjack strategies.
Casino Blackjack & Online Blackjack Strategy: Add 10 to the Dealer's Hand?
In situations where the choice to hit or stand is not obvious, you will have to consider a second variable-the dealer's hand. Without exception, one of the dealer's first two cards is always visible. This single card will be the basis for a majority of your player decisions.
Most Blackjack strategies advise players pretend that the dealer's down card is a 10. By adding 10 to the dealer's up card you create a hypothetical hand with which to compete.
We won't cover the full odds for every possible dealer versus player hand here, but if you want a perfect "how to win at Blackjack strategy", then find yourself a good Blackjack chart or two. Blackjack charts and odds tables are available almost anywhere, though some are more comprehensive than others. Memorizing a Blackjack chart is the easiest way to learn the optimal move for every hand.
Casino Blackjack & Online Blackjack Strategy: More on How to Deal with the Dealer's Hand
A simple understanding of the game's rules and odds should make some decisions quite obvious. For example, all dealers must act according to house rules, and most house rules stipulate that they hit until they reach a hand of at least 17 (a small handful of casinos ask their dealers to stand at 16).
A new player's initial response to the Dealer hits to 17 rule is to assume then that they must get a hand of 17 or better, but sometimes it's smarter to stand. For example, if a player has a hand of 16 and the dealer's hypothetical hand is 15, then you know the dealer must hit. You also know that the odds are good that the dealer will bust. So, rather than busting yourself, stand on your 16.
With a hard hand of anywhere from 13 to 16, your own odds of busting are high. Thus, if the dealer has an up card of 2 through 6 it's always smart to stand and let him take the risk of busting out.
Always stand with a hard hand of 17 to 21; even if the dealer's hypothetical hand is better than yours, the odds of busting at this point are too high. Soft hands (two-card hands where the Ace can still be used as either a 1 or 11) offer more possibilities. You should not only hit on most soft hands of less than 19, you should often double down.
For more information on how to win at Blackjack, visit our "21" Tips page. Good luck!