Blackjack Basics – The Background to the Charts
Blackjack is a game in which players some form of control and do not have to rely entirely on luck. They will be able to dictate a round’s gameplay by choosing from various actions. As we all know, the aim of the game is to form a stronger hand than the dealers. The hand that is closer to 21 wins whilst going bust (exceeding it) automatically loses.
All numbered cards keep their face value and picture cards (Jack, Queen, King) are worth 10. Aces are special cards as they can be worth either 1 or 11 (depending on the other cards in the hand).
A round of blackjack begins once your stake has been set and the dealer has dealt the cards. He will deal two face-up cards to your position and deal a face-up card himself. At this point, you will have the option to perform one of the following options:
- Hit – you receive another card. There is no limit on how many cards you may take as long as you do not go bust.
- Stand – you keep your hand as it is.
- Double – you take a single card and immediately stand. In doing so, you also double your bet.
- Split – you split your cards into two separate hands and play them independently. This is only possible if you are dealt a pair of cards. By splitting, you also double your bet.
These are the basic blackjack rules that apply to all games. In other games, you may find additional options as well.
What is a Blackjack Strategy Chart?
Blackjack strategy charts will vary from one game to another, depending on the rules of the game. Using them is a fantastic approach to playing that is easy to learn, even for those who have never played blackjack before.
Blackjack strategy charts tell you the best action to take for every round. The strategy chart has a list of hands located on the vertical side of the table and the dealer’s face-up card on the horizontal axis. Within the chart, players will find the best action to take (based on the probabilities). This calculation is made based on their hand total and the dealer’s up-card.
Therefore, as soon as the dealer has dealt your hand and shown their up-card, you should immediately refer to the chart to see the best option to take.
How to Use Blackjack Strategy Charts
Strategy charts will differ from one game to another. When finding an appropriate strategy chart, you should look at the name of the blackjack variant, the number of decks that are used and the rules regarding the dealer (whether they stand or hit on a soft 17).
Imagine you are playing a blackjack variant that uses four decks and in which the dealer stands on all 17s. If you are dealt a pair of 5s, you should look for the appropriate action, based on the matching strategy chart. The strategy chart for four-deck blackjack in which the dealer stands on soft 17 will give you the best approach for the game.
It will recommend you to Double Down (if possible) if the dealer is showing a 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 or 9. If the dealer is showing a 10 or Ace, you should simply hit. If it is not possible to double, you should hit on numbers 2 through 9.
The aim of the strategy chart is to always have a point of reference to know the best action to take depending on your hand and the dealer’s up-card. However, strategy charts will vary depending on the number of decks used, the rules for the dealer and whether or not certain options are available (such as surrendering or doubling after a split). Therefore, it is important to check that you are using the correct chart for the game you are playing.
Learning Strategy Charts through Trial and Error
Blackjack strategy charts are not illegal or considered a method of cheating. Instead, they are merely guidelines that players can choose to follow based on the probabilities inherent in each hand.
When using strategy charts, you may find yourself looking at the charts more than the game itself. This may become an excitement killer as you will not be able to soak up the complete experience of playing blackjack. Nevertheless, blackjack strategy charts are helpful tools that will increase your chances of winning. Especially if you are new to the game and do not have enough experience to know how to play certain hands.
If you want to enter a land-based casino, or play blackjack online, you can print out a strategy chart sheet and refer to it when in doubt. Over time, you will become more familiar with the suggested actions to take depending on your hand and the dealer’s up-card. However, it is recommended to memorize strategy charts so you can refer to them off the top of your head. That way, you will not have to refer to the table for every decision and can make judgement calls if the hand plays out differently. Here are some methods to help you learn and memorise specific strategy charts.
- Print out flash cards of the appropriate actions to take and practice playing rounds of blackjack. Bit by bit, you will become more familiar with the suggested action through trial and error.
- Get a blank sheet of paper and create the strategy chart from scratch. It is said that the best way to soak up knowledge is by writing it down as your brain is subconsciously more likely to remember what has been written. To create the strategy chart, use a blank sheet and refer to the chart. It may also do you well to write the same sheet several times until you remember how to fill it out correctly, without needing to look back at the chart itself.
- Use a blackjack strategy chart application to memorize specific charts. Nowadays, it is possible to find blackjack apps that will help you memorise and learn strategies for specific games. The app will display a hand and dealer’s card and ask you which action is the best to perform. If you are correct, it will let you know and if you have made a mistake, it will inform you of the correct action, based on the chart.
Essentially, learning strategy charts is not that difficult. It may take a bit of time but if you are dedicated to memorizing the actions, it is not an impossible task. Our recommendation is to spend some time learning these charts, as it will improve your overall experience.
Questions Regarding Blackjack Strategy Charts
We assume that most people have loads of questions about using strategy charts for playing offline or online blackjack. If you have never used a strategy chart before, you do not need to feel overwhelmed by it. As mentioned above, strategy charts are incredibly easy to read. The most difficult thing about them is taking the time to memorize them, although with some practice, it is not a complicated matter.
Are Blackjack Strategy Charts Legal?
Many players may feel as though strategy charts are a form of cheating, and in some casinos, they may be frowned upon. If you enter a brick-and-mortar casino with a blackjack strategy chart, you do not need to feel as though you are breaking any rules. It is perfectly legal to use printed out strategy charts. However, you should not place these charts on the table or read them out loud. Instead, hold the chart in your hand and only use it when you are unsure of the appropriate action to take.
Why should I Learn a Strategy Chart if I can use a Printed-Out Copy?
Strategy charts are designed to assist players to play the best strategy for a specific variant. When used correctly, the strategy chart can reduce the house edge to less than 1%. Using a strategy chart will indirectly increase your playing time, give you a better chance of winning and help you avoid losing for specific rounds (for instance by surrendering). If you are completely unfamiliar with the content of the chart, you will constantly be looking for the correct box, which may reduce your enjoyment of the game. By memorising the chart, you are able to enjoy the thrill of the game and not feel as if you are continually delaying its progress.
How to read the chart with a hand of three cards?
When using a blackjack strategy chart with a hand of three cards, first add up the total value of the hand. Next, locate that total in the appropriate row of the chart and cross-reference it with the dealer’s up-card to find the optimal strategy.