The blackjack strategy chart is the most common format to show players the blackjack basic strategy. The numbers across the top represent the Dealer’s up-card and the player’s hand along the side. The correct decision for a given situation can be found where the row and column intersect.
Most decisions are represented by a single letter: “H” for a hit, “S” for a stand,” D” for double, “S” for a split, and “R” for surrender. In general, you should hit if doubling is not permitted. For example, doubling late is not allowed at most tables, so if you have a three-card eleven, you can’t double. In situations where you should stand if doubling is not allowed, “D*” is used. If you are not permitted to surrender where it is indicated to do so, always hit.
Blackjack Basic Strategy Chart
Master Chart: Hard Hands
The hard hands blackjack basic strategy chart shows how to play hard hands. As a reminder, a “hard” hand does not contain an ace counted as eleven. An ace-six is a “soft” hand, but an ace-six-nine is a hard hand (because the ace has already reverted to one). A separate chart for “soft hands” is provided later.
An easier way to remember the decisions this chart prescribes:
Always double an eleven, unless you’re against an ace.
Always double a ten unless you’re against a ten or an ace.
Double a nine if the dealer shows three through six—only.
If you do not double:
Always hit a hand of 11 or less—there’s no way you can bust with one more card.
Always stand on a hand of 17 or higher—it’s unlikely you’ll do any better by hitting it.
If the dealer’s card is six or less:
If you have a 12 and the dealer is showing a deuce or a three, hit.
If the dealer is showing seven or higher.
If you have 15 and the dealer has a ten, surrender.
If you have 16 and the dealer has nine, ten, or eleven, surrender.
If you cannot surrender, hit.
Hit all other hands.
Master Chart: Soft Hands
A “soft” hand contains an ace that is counted as eleven and will revert to one if the hand’s total exceeds 21. If all aces are counted as one, it is a hard hand, and you should follow the previous chart.
To remember how to play soft hands:
Always stand on a soft hand of 19 or greater.
Always double a soft hand against a five or a six.
Double against a four if your hand is fifteen or greater.
Double against a three if your hand is seventeen or greater.
Double soft 18 against a deuce.
If you do not double …
Hit unless your hand is a soft eighteen and the dealer is showing eight or less.
Master Chart: Pairs
A hand may be split if it contains two hands of the same type: two deuces, two threes, etc. Though you should never split ten-value cards, it isn’t against the rules, so long as they are the same type (tens, jacks, queens, or kings—you can’t split a jack and a king).
An easier way to remember how to play pairs:
- Always split eights and aces.
- Split twos, threes, and sevens against any card less than eight.
- Split sixes against any card less than seven.
- Split nines against anything but an ace, ten, or seven.
- Split fours only against a five or a six.
- Never split fives—play the hand as a hard ten.
- Never split tens—stand firm on that 20.
Finally, it stands to note that basic strategy covers the game of blackjack, but not any of the blackjack side bets. The odds of winning side bets, including the “insurance” and “even money” bets offered when the dealer’s up-card is an ace, is discussed in greater detail in the “casino play” section of this site. (Preview: none of them are worth taking.)