The Essential Pillars of Strategy Required to Learn to Play Blackjack Well
November 28, 2014
The game of blackjack is largely about learning the right strategies, but when you start off, it's not immediately evident what you should be focusing on. There are certain pillars of strategy that you have to learn if you want to have a solid foundation for learning this game, and these pillars can't be understood by just memorizing strategy charts. If you understand these basic concepts, then you can build up your own strategies for any game without having to rely on pre-printed strategy charts that may or may not fit the exact game that you're playing.
A good place to start is with the dealer card. There are essentially three classes of dealer cards: weak, neutral and strong. The strength of the dealer cards, starting with the weakest, are as follows: 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 7, 8, 9, 10 and A. The weak cards are typically 3-6 with 2 and 7-9 considered neutral and A/10 considered strong. These boundaries can change a little based on which type of game you're working on, but this is more or less how it works out. The important thing to know about each category of hands is the type of totals it tends to produce.
For example, weak dealer cards tend to lead the dealer to go bust. In fact, the dealer will go bust with these hands so often that you'll usually be hitting on hard totals like 12, 13 or 14 when you face them just because you'll have a chance of busting yourself. If you bust and then the dealer busts, you lose the hand instead of it being a tie, and that's why playing correctly in these spots is so important.
If you have a no peek rule for blackjack, then the 10s and aces become much stronger to face, and you have to be super careful with basically never doubling or splitting against them. You're going to need to hit a lot against these hands and even surrender if you have a really bad starting hand like a hard 16 because they make good hands so often and bust very rarely. Aggression is called for here because you're almost always going to have slim chances of beating these hands unless you hit a bigger hand. Overall, these are the basic principles that govern strategy in blackjack.