Free Blackjack Basic Strategy Lessons

4 Blackjack Strategy Lessons

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The point of this page is to provide some introductory blackjack strategy lessons for people who don't know anything about blackjack basic strategy. The article is written as a list of blackjack tips, but it should be considered an introuduction to basic strategy, not a complete basic strategy. I've included some links to some other free blackjack basic strategy resources here as well.

Free Blackjack Basic Strategy Lesson #1 - There is only one best way to play each blackjack hand.

The whole point of learning a blackjack basic strategy is to make the play with the best mathematical expectation in every blackjack situation. Sometimes you'll face situations where any decision you make will have a negative expectation. You'll also face situations where any decision you make will have a positive expectation. Blackjack basic strategy gives you the decision in those situations which have the best mathematical expectation. If you have several choices, all of which will lose money in the long run, basic strategy is the decision which loses the least amount of money in the long run. If you have several choices, all of which will win money in the long rune, basic strategy is the decision which wins the most amount of money in the long run.

Blackjack basic strategy is a mathematical fact. Hunches and patterns, betting systems, and any other hare-brained scheme you come up with does not affect this mathematical reality.

Free Blackjack Basic Strategy Lesson #2 - Basic strategy is a losing strategy.

Blackjack is a casino game. And casino games are set up so that the casino has a mathematical edge. This mathematical edge in blackjack can be reduced by using a perfect basic strategy, but it isn't eliminated or turned into a positive expectation overall. Playing blackjack on your hunches without a basic strategy might result in the casino having a 3% edge over the player. But using basic strategy might result in the casino only having a 0.5% edge over the player.

That doesn't seem like a big difference, but look at the rate of how much money you can mathematically expect to lose in each of those situations. Suppose you put $500 an hour into action. If the house has a 3% edge, you can expect to lose $15 an hour. But if the house only has a 0.5% edge, you can expect to lose only $2.50 per hour.

Free Blackjack Basic Strategy Lesson #3 - You should ALWAYS use basic strategy.

Even though it's a losing strategy in the long term, the intelligent decision when playing blackjack is to follow the basic strategy. Intelligent gamblers don't give up any percentage to the casino that they don't absolutely have to. The only time you should deviate from basic strategy is when you're counting cards and the decision you make is mathematically sound based on what the count is.

Free Blackjack Basic Strategy Lesson #4 - Basic strategy is different based on the rules of the blackjack game in which you're playing.

Multiple factors affect what is the correct decision in a given blackjack game. Some of the rules changes that affect blackjack basic strategy include

  • How many decks are in play.
  • Whether or not the dealer stands or hits a soft 17.
  • What situations is doubling allowed in.
  • Does the game include a surrender option?

Ken Smith's blackjack site offers a which will generate a mathematically correct basic strategy for any combination of rules you can imagine.


Any number of sites offer basic strategy, but few offer much commentary on the basic strategy charts that they present. I hope that this article helps to fill some of that gap in the online blackjack literature by providing some reasoning and rationale behind the use of blackjack basic strategy.

See also:

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