The Risks of the Basic Strategy for Blackjack

The Risks of the Basic Strategy for Blackjack

Playing any form of gambling has its risks and Blackjack is no different and within a casino you are always aware that the house always has the edge. However, under standard rules of Blackjack the theoretical return to the player (RTP), so long as the player has not deviated from the basic strategy (you can read about the basic strategy here) should be 99.63%.

Compared to most other games this is a very high return and probably the highest you will find within any offline or online casino. This is one of the reasons why the game of Blackjack is so hugely popular. However, balancing this out the odds are very low with the highest being 3 to 2 for a Blackjack. Therefore it is fairly unlikely to make a huge profit in any one session.

The idea behind the basic strategy unfortunately does not guarantee a win as the RTP is below 100% as stated above. On saying this even if you did have a bad run you should stick to the basic strategy as in the long run it will provide better results for the player compared to a player who is simply making decisions from gut instinct. You need to make sure also that you stick to the strategy for every decision made during a game and not just on the first card dealt.

You also need to be aware that the performance of this strategy is based around the standard European rules to be able to offer the RTP at 99.63%. There are several different versions of Blackjack available and they shouldn’t make too much difference when following the basic strategy but be aware that if the dealer is allowed to hit on a soft 17 or variations in rules on double-down after splitting can have an affect.

The basic strategy gives the best decisions for a player not counting cards and based on that we can now look at the decisions you should make under the following circumstances.



If you are dealt 2 Aces then you should ‘always’ split. When splitting Aces the player will only receive one more card for each Ace but 11 is a very strong number to start with that only one further card will still make it the best decision to make. You should also ‘always’ split eights. Under any other circumstances when splitting your cards simply refer to the guide.


In the long term it is more profitable to take the risk of losing your initial bet rather than protecting against the dealer hitting a blackjack. Therefore you never take insurance.


When playing a blackjack session and you want to reduce the house edge the single best way to achieve this is to double-down. If you are in a strong position against the dealer, by doubling your bet you can swing the balance of a possible win more in your favour by capitalising on your position of strength.

Generally when playing Blackjack you should double-down on 11 every time unless you are against an Ace. The same goes if you have 10 (or 5-5). If the dealers has 3, 4 , 5 or 6 then you should also double-down if you have a nine. You will probably find that many casinos can restrict the ability to double-down just to 9, 10 and 11.


If the table allows a player to surrender it can mean that the player can escape from a situation where neither standing or hitting is a preferred option. Surrendering your hand means you will lose half your stake but over the long term means you will lose less. The basic strategy actually only recommends two situations of when to surrender. These are if the player has a hard fifteen when the dealer has a ten or if the player has a hard sixteen against a dealer having 9, 10 or an Ace.

Side Bets

If a Casino offers side bets at their Blackjack table it is generally not recommended to bet on any of these. Usually they give an even bigger edge to the house and not much value to the player.

Number of Decks

Depending on the number of decks a dealer is using the house edge can be affected slightly albeit a small effect.

Number of decks and House advantage:

Single deck 0.17%

Double deck 0.46%

Four decks 0.60%

Six decks 0.64%

Eight decks 0.65%

The effect on the house as you can see is very small but in general terms the fewer decks used the smaller the house advantage becomes. When playing online you will generally find that the most common amount of decks will be four or six.

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