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The GameMaster's Blackjack School: Lesson 1: Basic Strategy

10 March 2003

The foundation of winning at Blackjack is to utilize proper basic strategy in playing the hands. "Proper" means that each decision you make on hitting, standing, doubling or splitting pairs is the correct mathematical play for that hand. There is no room for intuition, gut feelings or guessing when it comes to basic strategy; you must make the "percentage" play each time. Even if you've doubled an 11 against a dealer's 10 five times in a row and lost, when that hand comes up a sixth time you must double. Consistency is a big part of playing a winning game, so resolve right now that you are going to make the proper play, regardless if the dealer rolls his eyes upward or the other players at the table groan quietly when you do it. You are there for the money -- there's no other reason to play blackjack -- and the application of proper basic strategy is going to get that money for you; what others think of your play is not important.

The correct basic strategy for a blackjack game depends upon the rules of the casino where you will be playing. The strategy that applies to a single deck game in Reno, for example, is quite a bit different than the strategy for an eight-deck game in Atlantic City. I'm going to show you how to learn the basic strategy of your choice; exactly what that strategy is will depend on you. To select a basic strategy, go to the "Blackjack Strategy Engine" and simply fill in the blanks. Once your strategy is computed, print it out.

Here's what that looks like for a fairly common game: Six decks, double on any first two cards, double after splitting pairs is permitted and the dealer stands on A-6. (If any of these terms are unfamiliar, go to ConJelCo's FAQ ).


Basic Strategy Matrix :
for 6 Decks, S17, DA2, DAS, No surrender



Splitting Pairs

Pairs 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 T A
(A,A) Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
(T,T) N N N N N N N N N N
(9,9) Y Y Y Y Y N Y Y N N
(8,8) Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
(7,7) Y Y Y Y Y Y N N N N
(6,6) Y Y Y Y Y N N N N N
(5,5) N N N N N N N N N N
(4,4) N N N Y Y N N N N N
(3,3) Y Y Y Y Y Y N N N N
(2,2) Y Y Y Y Y Y N N N N


Key:
  • Y = Yes, split the pair
  • N = No, don't split the pair


Bill Channels

Bill Channels was the original creative director and the master strategist of The Rolling Good Times Online, the web's first real gambling 'zine. Known as The Game Master, at one time he operated the game master online website. an on-line gambling 'zine with attitude, a man-about-town focus and a commitment to winning, both on-line and in the casino.

Bill Channels Websites:

GameMasterOnline.com
Bill Channels
Bill Channels was the original creative director and the master strategist of The Rolling Good Times Online, the web's first real gambling 'zine. Known as The Game Master, at one time he operated the game master online website. an on-line gambling 'zine with attitude, a man-about-town focus and a commitment to winning, both on-line and in the casino.

Bill Channels Websites:

GameMasterOnline.com