GENERIC BASIC STRATEGY
THE HIGH-LOW SYSTEM
HOW TO WIN WITHOUT GETTING KICKED OUT
Table of Generic Basic Blackjack Strategy
Download and print table 1 that presents blackjack generic basic strategy. It contains advice for every decision the blackjack player commonly makes. Each column is a different dealer upcard. 10, J, Q, and Kare lumped together as 10. Each row is a different player hand.
Technically, the table is basic strategy for multiple decks and dealer stands on soft seventeen.
Blackjack By Country
The order of decisions presented in table 1 is the order in which you evaluate your hand. First you check to see if you have a pair. At most casinos, any two 10-count cards, e.g. J-K, are a pair and may be split. If you have a pair, the first part of the table tells you how to play your hand. Use this part of the table to decide whether to split your pair. To split means to make another bet equal in size to your first bet, and play each card as the start of a separate hand.
If you split a pair and catch another card of the same value, resplit if you can. If it is correct to split a pair, it is correct to resplit.
You may or may not be allowed to double down after splitting a pair. For example, if you split 8-8 and catch a 3 for eleven, you may or may not be allowed to double down on that eleven. If doubling down after splitting is allowed, then splitting is more attractive and you should split more often. The first part of table 1 assumes you are not allowed to double down after splitting. If you are allowed to double down after splitting, then use the last part of table 1 -the part on the facing page. The decisions that are hits in the first part of table 1 and splits on the facing page are: 6-6 against 2, 4-4 against 5 or 6, 3-3 against 2 or 3, and 2-2 against 2 or 3.
If you do not have a pair, then see if you have an ace. Aces count your choice of one or eleven. A hand in which an ace counts eleven is called a soft hand, and the total points in it is called a soft total. The second part of table 1 explains how to play soft hands.
The double-down advice is broken down into db and dbs. The reason is you need to know what to do with a particular total if you cannot double down. For example, suppose you have soft eighteen and the dealer shows 3. Your best play is to double down, so that is what you do if you can. But if your soft eighteen is a three-card hand, say ace-2-5, then you probably will not be allowed to double down. The table lists "dbs" for that hand, which means if you are not allowed to double down then you should stand.
Note that sometimes it is correct to hit eighteen. If you have soft eighteen and the dealer shows 9, 10, or ace, then hitting your soft eighteen is better than standing on it.
One decision that is very close is soft thirteen against 5. It does not matter whether you hit or double down.
The lower two parts of table 1 explain how to play the rest of your hands. Hands labeled "hard" might contain aces, but all such aces are counted as one. Hands from 5 to 11 do not contain an ace; if a hand totaling eleven or less has an ace it is a soft hand and is played according to the "soft" part of the table.
Read more about Blackjack Surrender
Surrender means losing half a bet for the privilege of not playing out the hand. Generic basic strategy presents strategy for late surrender, which means you cannot surrender if the dealer has a natural. Most of the value of surrender comes from surrendering sixteen against 10. Late surrender is worth 0.1%.
If you are playing blackjack at a casino that does not offer surrender, or if you are not allowed to surrender due to having more than two cards, then hit those hands for which table 1 advises surrender.
Read more about Blackjack Insurance
Table 1 does not show insurance. Basic strategy says never take insurance. Even if you have a natural, you are better off not insuring it: You are better off winning 3:2 most of the time than winning even money for sure.
If you have a natural yourself, insurance gives you a sure winner (and thus is sometimes called "even money") but you still should not buy it.
You are ahead in the long run taking a chance on a push or winning 150% of your bet. You should take chances when the odds favor you. Maybe 150% and maybe 0% is better than a certain 100% when the 150% occurs more than two-thirds of the time. If you remove your 10-ace and the dealer's ace from one deck, 49 cards are left, each of which is equally likely to be the hole card.
Fifteen of the 49 cards will give the dealer a natural, and the other 34 will give the dealer a lesser hand. Not insuring your natural results in your winning 150% of your bet 34 times and pushing 15 times, out of 49 total.
This averages out to winning 104% of your bet by not insuring. Would you rather win 104% of your bet on average or 100% for certain? The professional blackjack player would go for the 104% because it makes more money in the long run.
Multiple-deck calculations are similar and yield the same advice: Do not buy insurance.
An exception is if you are using a coupon. If an insurance bet protects the coupon as well as the bet, as generally is the case, then always insure a coupon.
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