Six Keys to Winning At Blackjack

Ppntori / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

A lot has changed since Dr. Edward O. Thorp first published a basic strategy for optimal play at casino blackjack tables, but there is still a computer-proven best way to play your hands when you sit down at a blackjack table.

Follow these simple rules and you won't have to worry that you aren't taking advantage of the very best way to play every hand, and you can reduce the casino's edge to a tiny amount, about 5-cents on every $10 you bet!

Six Keys to Blackjack Success 

1. Hard Hands

Follow these rules when your hard hand totals:

  • 5 to 8 - hit your hand against any dealer up card
  • 9 - double against a dealer 2 through 6 and hit 7 through ace
  • 10 - double against a dealer 2 through 9
  • 11 - double against a dealer 2 through 10
  • 12 to 16 - hit against a dealer 7 through ace, otherwise, stand
  • 17 to 21 - always stand

2. Soft Hands

Follow these rules when your soft hand (with an ace) totals:

  • 13 to 15 - hit
  • 16 and 17 - double against a dealer 2 through 6, otherwise hit
  • 18 - double against a dealer 2 through 6, stand against a 7 or eight, hit against 9, 10 or ace
  • 19 to 21 - always stand

3. Splits

  • Always split aces and 8's
  • Never split 4's, 5's, or 10's
  • Split 9's except against 7's, 10's and aces
  • Split 2's, 3's, 6's and 7's against 2 through 7, hit 6's and 7's against 7 through ace

4. Don'ts

  • Take insurance unless you are playing with several people and see no 10's out on the layout, otherwise, forget about this bet.
  • Use surrender except when you have a 15 against a 10 and when you have 16 against a 9, 10 or ace.
  • Be rude to the other players or the dealer, they are trying to enjoy themselves just like you are. The dealer does not control the cards - you control what you bet, when, and at what table.
  • The dealer is your friend. If they don't act like it, find another dealer.
  • Bet more when you are losing to chase your money, that's a sure way to bury yourself and your bankroll.

5. Do's

  • Remember that blackjack is a great game and more fun when you play well.
  • Try to memorize the rules for winning.
  • Make an occasional "toke" bet for the dealer, or hand them a chip for their efforts.
  • Remember that you are in complete control of how long you play.
  • Raise your bets a little when you are winning.
  • Quit playing when you reach your pre-set win level or are not enjoying yourself.

6.  Bonus Tip

When you first arrive at the casino, ask at the valet or bell desk for the Player's Club or guest services. Each club offers free items in exchange for your continued play at their table games and slots. You might as well rack up some complementary meals while you are playing. Some player's clubs also have free bets, match play coupons, and other goodies. Don't miss out!