Play Basic Strategy for Playing Blackjack in December 2023

Expert gambler John Marchell advises memorizing how to hit, stand, split, and double down your hand. You’ll reduce the house edge from 1 to 2% to 0.5.

Marchell offers this primer:

  • When the dealer has 2-6, hold 12-16.
  • When the dealer has 7-Ace, hit with 12-16.
  • Aces and 8s split
  • Double 11 vs. 2-10
  • Aces-6

Get a basic strategy card here.

Don’t Play Insurance

  • Unless you’re counting cards, don’t make this stupid bet based on whether the dealer has blackjack.
  • “With an insurance bet, the house has a nearly 6% advantage over the player,” says Marchel. “Even with blackjack, you only win your initial bet. If the dealer has a blackjack, it’s a tie.”

Check the Dealer’s Up Card

  • Check the dealer’s up card first, advises Marchel. Is it bad (2-6) or good (7-Ace)? “What the dealer has dictates what the player should do.”

Don’t Sit in the First Base Seat

  • When in doubt, Marchel advises avoiding the first base chair. Sitting lower allows you to examine your hand and the dealer’s up card.

Start Small

  • If you (or a new dealer) are new to the table, don’t go all out. Start small to assess the dealer’s “hotness” or “coldness,” advises Marchel. But you do. A player’s “hot and cold streaks” can be detrimental.

Don’t Buy Into Gambler’s Myths

  • Your hand is unaffected by the actions of other players. You’re alone against the dealer, Scoblete says, and neither knows what you have.
  • And ignore the expert. “Smile and play the correct game,” says Scoblete.

Don’t Get Burned

  • Set a loss limit without limiting your winnings, advises Frank Scoblete, author of Beat Blackjack Now.
  • Comps, or casino freebies, aren’t worth your mortgage.
  • “Numerous studies have shown that 75% of casino patrons win at some point, but only 4% walk away winners,” says Marchell.
  • Move on if you’re losing.





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