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BASIC STRATEGIES FOR LIVE DEALER BLACKJACK

Success in blackjack is a matter of mathematics, not intuition or guessing.  Basic strategy was derived from a study that Julian Braun conducted with IBM computers running billions of blackjack combinations on an IBM computer. The findings from these one to eight deck games resulting in fundamental system strategy tables, which is known as Basic Strategy. Using this strategy will actually reduce the casino advantage down to less than two percent.

Another strategy for success in blackjack is a simplified card counting method, which gives you an additional advantage over the casino. This method of counting cards requires that you remember a single number rather than an exact list of cards being played. Be aware that all casinos frown on card counting, so if you are suspected of doing so, you may be escorted out the door of this casino. Also, card counting becomes more difficult with multiple decks of cards, and impossible in games that have shoes with continuous shuffling.

The decision on whether to hit or stand should not be solely based on the total of the cards in your hand. You should always consider the dealer’s “upcard” before deciding to hit, stand, double down, split, or surrender. For example, you have a total of 12 and the dealer has a 4, 5, or 6 showing. The odds are better for you if you stand since the dealer must take a card on a 16 or lower. The dealer has a good chance to bust with this hand, and if the dealer busts, then you win as long as you don’t bust first.

Winning in blackjack is about comparing the potential of your hand against the threat of the dealers “upcard”. The greater the threat, the less likely you are to win that particular hand. Basic strategy always takes the threat and potential into consideration. The following tables denote the Basic Strategy recommendations when using a single-deck or multiple decks of cards.

BASIC STRATEGY FOR SINGLE-DECK BLACKJACK
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 ACE
8 H H H D/H D/H H H H H H
9 D/H D/H D/H D/H D/H H H H H H
10 D/H D/H D/H D/H D/H D/H D/H D/H H H
11 D/H D/H D/H D/H D/H D/H D/H D/H D/H D/H
12 H H S S S H H H H H
13 (hard) S S S S S H H H H H
14 (hard) S S S S S H H H H H
15 (hard) S S S S S H H H H H
16 (hard) S S S S S H H H H H
17-20 (hard) S S S S S S S S S S
13 (soft) H H D/H D/H D/H H H H H H
14 (soft) H H D/H D/H D/H H H H H H
15 (soft) H H D/H D/H D/H H H H H H
16 (soft) H H D/H D/H D/H H H H H H
17 (soft) D/H D/H D/H D/H D/H H H H H H
18 (soft) S D/S D/S D/S D/S S S H H H
19 (soft) S S S S D/S S S S S S
20 (soft) S S S S S S S S S S

Key: H=Hit; S=Stand; D/H=Double down if allowed, otherwise hit; D/S=Double down if allowed, otherwise stand

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Determining the threat of the upcard is simple. The percentage of 10’s in the deck makes the dealer very vulnerable when showing a 4, 5, or 6. The hole card will probably put the dealer in the 12 to 16 range, forcing a hit, and most likely a bust.

BASIC STRATEGY FOR MULTIPLE DECK BLACKJACK
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 ACE
8 H H H H H H H H H H
9 H D/H D/H D/H D/H H H H H H
10 D/H D/H D/H D/H D/H D/H D/H D/H H H
11 D/H D/H D/H D/H D/H D/H D/H D/H D/H H
12 H H S S S H H H H H
13 (hard) S S S S S H H H H H
14 (hard) S S S S S H H H H H
15 (hard) S S S S S H H H H H
16 (hard) S S S S S H H H H H
17-20 (hard) S S S S S S S S S S
13 (soft) H H H D/H D/H H H H H H
14 (soft) H H H D/H D/H H H H H H
15 (soft) H H D/H D/H D/H H H H H H
16 (soft) H H D/H D/H D/H H H H H H
17 (soft) H D/H D/H D/H D/H H H H H H
18 (soft) D D/S D/S D/S D/S S S H H H
19 (soft) S S S S S S S S S S
20 (soft) S S S S S S S S S S

Key: H=Hit; S=Stand; D/H=Double down if allowed, otherwise hit; D/S=Double down if allowed, otherwise stand; H*=Surrender if allowed, otherwise hit

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