Basic Blackjack Strategy Chart


Understanding Hard and Soft Totals in Blackjack

In Blackjack, the terms ‘hard total’ and ‘soft total’ are used to describe the nature of a hand, particularly in relation to the role of the Ace.

Hard Totals

A ‘hard total’ is any hand where the Ace is counted as 1 or where there is no Ace at all. In other words, it’s a hand that only has one possible value. For example, a hand with a 10 and a 7 is a hard 17. Hard totals are straightforward because they carry no ambiguity in their value.

Soft Totals:

A ‘soft total’, on the other hand, involves an Ace that can be counted as either 1 or 11 without the hand going over 21. This duality of the Ace gives the hand flexibility. For example, an Ace and a 6 can be counted as either 7 or 17. The presence of an Ace in a soft total provides more options for the player and can lead to different strategic decisions.

Understanding the difference between hard and soft totals is crucial in applying basic Blackjack strategy effectively. This is because the flexibility of soft totals often warrants different actions compared to hard totals of the same numeric value.

With this understanding, let’s explore the optimal plays for different hand types.

Optimal plays for each Blackjack hand

Hard Totals (No Ace, or Ace counts as 1)

  • 8 or less: Always Hit.
  • 9: Double if dealer has 3-6, otherwise Hit.
  • 10: Double if dealer has 2-9, otherwise Hit.
  • 11: Double if dealer has 2-10, Hit if dealer has Ace.
  • 12: Hit if dealer has 2-3 or 7-Ace, Stand if dealer has 4-6.
  • 13-16: Stand if dealer has 2-6, otherwise Hit.
  • 17-21: Always Stand.

Soft Totals (Hand contains an Ace)

  • Ace-2/Ace-3: Double if dealer has 5-6, otherwise Hit.
  • Ace-4/Ace-5: Double if dealer has 4-6, otherwise Hit.
  • Ace-6: Double if dealer has 3-6, otherwise Hit.
  • Ace-7: Stand if dealer has 2, 7-8. Double if dealer has 3-6. Hit if dealer has 9-10 or Ace.
  • Ace-8/Ace-9: Always Stand.

Pairs

  • Aces, 8s: Always Split.
  • 2s, 3s: Split if dealer has 2-7, otherwise Hit.
  • 4s: Split if dealer has 5-6, otherwise Hit.
  • 5s: Double if dealer has 2-9, otherwise Hit.
  • 6s: Split if dealer has 2-6, otherwise Hit.
  • 7s: Split if dealer has 2-7, otherwise Hit.
  • 9s: Split if dealer has 2-6 or 8-9. Stand if dealer has 7, 10, or Ace.
  • 10s: Always Stand.

Notes:

  • These strategies assume multiple-deck games.
  • “Double if allowed” means you should double if the game rules allow doubling on that hand, otherwise hit.
  • Strategies can vary slightly based on specific game rules and the number of decks used.

Remember, while this chart can guide you towards making statistically optimal decisions, it does not guarantee success, as blackjack is still a game of chance. It’s also important to adapt your strategy based on the specific rules of the blackjack game you’re playing.