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Blackjack Strategy

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Kiwis can use basic blackjack strategy to enjoy winning blackjack sessions. The problem is that basic blackjack strategy alone cannot overcome the house edge that’s inbuilt into the game of blackjack – and all other online casino games at Wildz Casino, for that matter.

Basic blackjack strategy dictates when you should double down, hit or stand, split pairs or surrender your hand. Double down means doubling your stake to receive one additional card only from the dealer. Hitting your hand means receiving an additional card, and standing your hand means sticking with your existing hand. Splitting pairs allows you to split two cards of the same value into two separate hands by doubling the size of your initial bet. Meanwhile, surrender will enable you to quit the hand after being dealt your first two cards and receive half of your stake back.

When learning how to play blackjack, it’s essential to build upon the basic blackjack strategy to further erode that house edge. There are two ways to do so – both of which are math driven. They are blackjack deviations, known as ‘playing deviations’ and ‘betting deviations’. We’ll delve deeper into this shortly!

What is basic blackjack strategy?

It’s important not to run before you can walk when it comes to blackjack strategy. Master the basic blackjack strategy first to give yourself a solid grounding in decision-making at the tables. Basic strategy relates to how you play the blackjack hands you are dealt. It’s also closely linked to the upcard the dealer is showing too.

Basic blackjack strategy charts will tell you when to hit, stand, split, double down or surrender, based on the value of your first two cards and the dealer’s upcard. Let’s run through some basic concepts to get you started.


It’s possible to split paired hands in blackjack. A pair is two cards of the same value. Basic strategy outlines the right hands to split to increase your probability of winning against the dealer.

Hard totals

Hard hand totals in blackjack involve hands without an ace. That’s because an ace can be worth either one or 11, depending on the scenario. Without an ace in your hand, its value is therefore rigid.

Soft totals

Soft hand totals in blackjack revolve around hands with an ace. The hand is soft as the ace can either act as one or 11 – whichever improves the value of your hand most.


Some blackjack tables will allow you to surrender a hand after your first two cards are dealt. This requires folding the hand completely and receiving half of your initial stake back. This can be beneficial when the dealer’s upcard gives them a high probability of beating your low-value hand.

Perfect blackjack strategy is the ultimate level

Although basic blackjack strategy can help to bring the house edge of a blackjack game down from 2% to 0.5%, the fact remains there’s still a margin in favour of the casino. That’s where perfect blackjack strategy comes in.

Perfect or advanced blackjack strategies can bring the house edge down to as close as zero as possible. First and foremost, you’ll need to learn how to count cards. There are multiple techniques like the Hi-Lo System that’s coined by the mathematician-turned-card shark Edward O. Thorp. Low cards are assigned +1 values, mid-range values are assigned a zero and face cards are assigned a value of -1. Whenever the running count is highly positive, there’s a higher proportion of face cards in the deck.

Perfect blackjack strategy also relies on being agile to make deviations based on the blackjack rules you’re playing:

Playing deviations

  • These will require you to make different betting decisions to basic strategy. This is usually due to the running count of the deck changing. For instance, if basic strategy says you hit a 12 against a dealer’s 2, you might stand if the running count of the deck is +3 or greater, with them having a higher chance of drawing two face cards and going bust.

Betting deviations

  • This relates to your bet sizing per game. Basic blackjack strategy is usually played with a set stake per game, e.g. one unit per hand. However, if the running count changes in your favour, you may want to bet bigger. If it moves against you, you may decide to reduce your bet size.

Can’t I just count cards?

Card counting is considered the most intensive strategy at the blackjack tables. People use it to maintain a running count of the cards dealt from the shoe by the dealer. When we say a running count, we mean whether there is an imbalance of low or high-value cards remaining in the deck.

This can be useful for card counters to bet bigger when more high-value cards are left in the deck, giving you more chance to land a blackjack. However, card counting alone won’t cut the mustard. In fact, you’ll not only need to master card counting and keeping an accurate running count, but you’ll also need to memorise the perfect blackjack strategy to make the right decisions, especially when the running count is neutral and there’s no advantage in the deck to be had.


Is counting cards allowed?

Yes, counting card is a strategy used in Blackjack and involves keeping a count of the values of the shoe by adding or subtracting the value of the cards drawn. But it could be more effective.

Can strategies lower the house edge?

Using multiple Blackjack strategies together can help reduce the house edge below 0.5%, achievable with the basic strategy.

What is the difference between a soft and a hard hand?

A soft hand contains an Ace; this makes the hand flexible since its value can change from 1 to 11. In contrast, a hard hand isn't flexible since it doesn't include an Ace.

What is insurance in Blackjack?

Insurance is a side bet offered when the dealer's up card is an Ace. If you take insurance, you are betting that the dealer has Blackjack. This bet pays out at two-to-one odds if the dealer has a Blackjack.

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