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Winning Big with Fairplay: The Ultimate Blackjack Strategy

Are you ready to elevate your blackjack game and increase your chances of winning big? Developing a solid blackjack strategy is essential to maximize your potential and outsmart the dealer. In this post, we’ll dive into the world of blackjack strategy and equip you with valuable insights and tips. Let’s take a closer look at the fundamental elements of a winning blackjack strategy.

Blackjack Strategy

Blackjack Basic Strategy

Familiarize yourself with the basic strategy chart, which provides the mathematically optimal move for each possible player hand against the dealer’s upcard. 

Blackjack Basic Strategy
  • Hit or Stand: It suggests whether to hit (take another card) or stand (keep the current hand) based on the player’s total hand value and the dealer’s upcard.
  • Doubling Down: It advises when to double down, which means doubling the initial bet and receiving one additional card. The foundation of this strategy relies on the numerical worth of the player’s hand and the face-up card of the dealer.
  • Splitting Pairs: It determines when it’s favorable to split a pair of cards of the same value into two separate hands. This strategy depends on the specific pair and the dealer’s upcard.
  • Insurance: It advises whether to take insurance, which is a side bet offered when the dealer’s upcard is an Ace. The basic strategy generally recommends against taking insurance due to unfavorable odds.
  • Surrender: This option is not available in all blackjack variations, but when it is, the basic strategy suggests whether to surrender (forfeit half the bet and give up the hand) or continue playing based on the player’s hand and the dealer’s upcard.

Here are some basic strategy phrases you can memorize to follow basic strategy perfectly:

Hard Hands:

“Hard hand” refers to a hand that doesn’t contain an Ace or contains an Ace that must be counted as 1 to avoid busting. In other words, the total value of the hand is fixed and cannot be changed by considering the Ace as 11.

  • If you have a hard total of 8 or less, it is advisable to consistently choose to hit.
  • If you have a hard total of 9, double down against the dealer’s 3-6, otherwise hit.
  • If you have a hard total of 10 or 11, double down, unless the dealer has an Ace or a 10-value card, then hit.
  • If you have a hard total of 12-16, hit against the dealer’s 7-Ace, otherwise, stand.
  • If you have a hard total of 17 or higher, it is recommended to always opt for standing.

Soft Hands:

“Soft hand” refers to a hand that contains an Ace that can be counted as either 1 or 11 without immediately busting the hand. The flexibility of the Ace allows the player to adjust its value to optimize their chances of winning.

  • If you have an Ace-2 or Ace-3, double down against the dealer’s 5-6, otherwise hit.
  • If you have an Ace-4 or Ace-5, double down against the dealer’s 4-6, otherwise hit.
  • If you have an Ace-6, double down against the dealer’s 3-6, otherwise hit.
  • If you have an Ace-7, stand against dealer’s 2-8, double down against 3-6, and hit against 9-Ace.
  • If you have an Ace-8 or Ace-9, always stand.


“Pair” refers to receiving two cards of the same rank in your initial hand. For example, being dealt two 8s, two Kings, or two Aces would constitute a pair.

  • Always split Aces and 8s.
  • Never split 5s and 10s.
  • Split 2s and 3s against dealer’s 4-7, otherwise hit.
  • Split 4s against dealer’s 5-6, otherwise hit.
  • Split 6s against dealer’s 3-6, otherwise hit.
  • Split 7s against dealer’s 2-7, otherwise hit.
  • Split 9s against dealers 2-6, 8-9, and stand against 7, 10, or Ace.

Splitting Aces

  • Aces hold a special significance when it comes to splitting. In most cases, when you split Aces, you’ll receive only one additional card for each Ace and must then stand.
  • Once you split Aces and receive a 10-value card on either of the split hands, it’s not considered a blackjack. Rather, it’s treated as a regular 21.
  • Some casinos may allow you to resplit Aces or even hit after splitting them, providing additional opportunities to enhance your hands.

Calculating the Right Time to Double Down

  • Doubling down should be based on a combination of factors, including the value of your hand, the dealer’s up-card, and the overall strategy you’re employing.
  • As a general rule, it’s advisable to double down when you have a total hand value of 9, 10, or 11. These values offer the best opportunities for improving your hand with a favorable card.
  • Doubling down with a total hand value of 9 can be beneficial when the dealer’s up-card is weak, such as a 5 or 6.
  • With a total hand value of 10 or 11, doubling down becomes even more advantageous, especially when the dealer’s up-card is a 4, 5, or 6.
  • However, it’s important to exercise caution and avoid doubling down when the dealer’s up-card is strong, such as a face card or an Ace.

Hard Hand Table

Player’s HandDealer’s CardRecommended Action
92-6Double Down
97-10, AceHit
102-9Double Down
1010, AceHit
112-10, AceDouble Down
12-167-10, AceHit
17 or higherAnyStand

Soft Hand Table

Player’s HandDealer’s CardRecommended Action
Ace-2, Ace-3 2-9Double Down
Ace-2, Ace-3 2-6Hit
Ace-4, Ace-5 7-10, AceDouble Down
Ace-4, Ace-5 2-3, 7-10, AceHit
Ace-63-6Double Down
Ace-62, 7-10, AceHit
12-169, 10, AceHit
Ace-8, Ace-9AnyStand

Pairs Hand Table

Player’s HandDealer’s CardRecommended Action
2s, 3s4-7Split
2s, 3s2-3, 8-10, AceHit
4s2-4, 7-10, AceHit
6s7-10, AceHit
7s8-10, AceHit
9s2-6, 8-9Split
9s7, 10, AceStand

Advanced Blackjack Strategy

Once you’ve become comfortable with the basic blackjack strategy, it’s time to explore more advanced techniques that can give you an even greater advantage at the tables. In this section, we’ll delve into advanced blackjack strategy concepts that can help sharpen your decision-making skills and increase your chances of walking away a winner.

Advanced Blackjack Strategy

Card Counting Systems

Card counting is a powerful tool that allows skilled players to track the ratio of high to low cards remaining in the deck. This technique enables you to make more accurate predictions about the next cards to be dealt. Explore advanced card counting systems like the Zen Count, Hi-Opt II, or the Wong Halves method, which offer more precise calculations and greater effectiveness.

Deck Penetration

Deck penetration refers to the percentage of cards that are dealt from the shoe before it is reshuffled. It is an important factor in blackjack as it directly affects the effectiveness of card counting and the overall advantage a player can gain.

Here are some key points to consider regarding deck penetration in blackjack:

Impact on Card Counting

Deeper deck penetration provides more accurate and reliable information for card counters. When a larger portion of the shoe is played before reshuffling, the remaining cards become more predictable, allowing skilled players to make more informed decisions and adjust their bets accordingly.

Higher Advantage for Players

A deeper deck penetration generally favors players over the casino. With a higher count accuracy, players have a better understanding of when the odds are in their favor and can increase their bets accordingly. This can lead to an increased overall advantage and potential profits.

Finding Tables with Favorable Penetration

To maximize your advantage, it’s beneficial to seek out tables with higher deck penetration. Some casinos and blackjack games offer more favorable conditions in terms of penetration. Tables with a penetration of 75% or higher are considered advantageous for card counters.

Variation Among Casinos and Table Rules

Different casinos and table rules can vary in terms of deck penetration. Some casinos may offer shallow penetration to minimize the advantage of skilled players, while others may allow deeper penetration. Additionally, the number of decks in play can also affect deck penetration. Single-deck games generally offer higher penetration compared to multiple-deck games.

Balancing Penetration and Casino Countermeasures

While deeper penetration provides an advantage, casinos are aware of this and employ countermeasures to deter card counters. These countermeasures can include reshuffling the decks earlier, using automatic shuffling machines, or implementing rule variations to reduce the impact of card counting. Skilled players must strike a balance between seeking favorable penetration and avoiding detection.

Adjusting Strategy Based on Penetration

As a player, it’s important to adjust your strategy based on the deck penetration. Deeper penetration allows for more aggressive betting and strategic decisions, while shallow penetration may require more caution and conservative play. Adapting your strategy accordingly will help you optimize your advantage based on the specific game conditions.

Insurance Strategy

Insurance becomes available as a supplementary wager when the dealer’s face-up card is an ace. Advanced players know when it’s mathematically advantageous to take or decline insurance. By understanding the probabilities and expected values associated with insurance, you can make informed decisions to protect your bankroll.

Ace Side Count

The Ace Side Count is an advanced technique in blackjack that involves keeping a separate count specifically for aces. Since aces hold significant value and can greatly impact gameplay, tracking the number of remaining aces can provide valuable information for making strategic decisions. Here’s some more information on the Ace Side Count:

Importance of Aces

Aces are crucial in blackjack as they can be valued as either 1 or 11, providing flexibility in forming strong hands. Knowing the number of aces remaining in the deck allows players to estimate the likelihood of receiving a natural blackjack (an ace and a ten-value card), improving the accuracy of their strategy.

Implementation of Ace Side Count

To perform an Ace Side Count, you maintain a separate count focused solely on the number of aces remaining in the deck. While keeping the main card count for the overall deck, you update the Ace Side Count each time an ace is dealt, accounting for both player hands and the dealer’s upcard.

Adjusting Strategy

By tracking the Ace Side Count, you gain insight into the probability of receiving a blackjack. When the count of aces is high, it’s more likely that you and the dealer will be dealt a natural blackjack. This information can influence decisions regarding insurance bets, doubling down, or even adjusting your bet size.

Impact on Betting

An advantage of having a higher Ace Side Count is the increased likelihood of receiving a blackjack, which can prompt players to increase their bets. A strong Ace Side Count signals favorable conditions for higher wagers, while a lower count suggests a more conservative betting approach.

Balancing with the Main Count

The Ace Side Count is typically used in conjunction with the main card count, which tracks the overall ratio of high to low cards. By combining the two counts, players can develop a more comprehensive strategy that incorporates both aces and the rest of the deck.

Practice and Skill

Implementing the Ace Side Count effectively requires practice and skill. It involves maintaining two separate counts simultaneously, which can be mentally challenging. With practice, you can enhance your ability to accurately track aces and make informed decisions based on the count.

Remember, mastering the Ace Side Count is an advanced technique that requires a solid foundation in basic strategy and card counting. It’s crucial to understand the rules and regulations of the casino you’re playing in, as some establishments may have restrictions or employ countermeasures against advanced strategies. Always approach the game with responsibility and within the bounds of legal and ethical practices.

Bet Spreading

Bet spreading is the practice of adjusting your bet size based on the count. When the count is in your favor, you can increase your bets to maximize your potential winnings. Conversely, when the count is unfavorable, you can decrease your bets to minimize potential losses. Learning effective bet-spreading techniques can help you optimize your advantage.

Risk Management

Advanced players understand the importance of risk management in blackjack. They calculate their risk tolerance based on factors such as bankroll size, expected win rate, and table conditions. By carefully managing their bets and adjusting their strategy accordingly, they minimize the impact of short-term variance and maintain long-term profitability.


Blackjack strategy refers to a set of rules and decisions that players use to maximize their chances of winning in the game of blackjack. It involves making optimal choices based on the player’s hand value, the dealer’s upcard, and the specific rules of the game.

Basic strategy is a mathematically derived strategy that suggests the optimal decision for every possible player hand and dealer upcard combination. It guides players on when to hit, stand, double down, or split their cards to minimize the house edge and maximize the player’s expected return.

Card counting is an advanced technique that can be used as part of a blackjack strategy. It involves tracking the ratio of high to low cards remaining in the deck to gain an advantage over the casino. While not essential, card counting can further enhance the effectiveness of your overall strategy.

Yes, following the basic strategy is recommended for most blackjack players. It is based on extensive mathematical calculations and is designed to give you the best possible chance of winning. Deviating from the basic strategy without a valid reason can increase the house’s edge and diminish your overall expected return.

Players can have an easier time memorizing basic strategy by memorizing phrases instead of tables and charts.


In conclusion, the blackjack strategy is a crucial tool for players aiming to improve their odds and maximize their chances of winning. By following the mathematically derived basic strategy, players can make optimal decisions based on their hand value and the dealer’s upcard, minimizing the house edge. Advanced techniques like card counting can further enhance the player’s advantage. Risk management principles and emotional control are essential for long-term success. While the strategy doesn’t guarantee wins on every hand, continuous study and practice allow players to evolve their skills and make informed decisions at the blackjack table, increasing their overall chances of success.

Play live blackjack at Fairplay today and practice using blackjack basic strategy and other advanced strategies to increase your chances of winning.