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Understanding Blackjack Strategy

  • Learn when to split cards while playing blackjack
  • Use blackjack cheat sheet to make increase your chances at a win

Blackjack strategy explained

One of the most basic strategies that blackjack players need to master is the process of splitting their cards at the right time. This move is just one of the many that you'll need to be comfortable with when you sit down at the blackjack table and, while there is a fair amount of mathematical analysis behind knowing when to split in blackjack, there is any easy way for you to master this skill. 

Blackjack cheat sheets aren't a magical piece of paper that allow you to hoodwink the casino, in actual fact they are specially constructed charts that tell you the optimal move in almost every situation at the table. Used by both novices and experienced players, blackjack charts are especially useful when determining whether you should split or play your hand as normal.

What is Splitting in Blackjack?
At this point, before we go any further, it's important to define splitting at the blackjack table. In a nutshell, splitting is an option that becomes available when you are dealt two cards of the same value, e.g. two nines. When this happens you are allowed to split these cards into two new hands and receive a second card on each. Splitting costs an amount equal to your opening bet and if you choose this option then you are able to play your two new hands in the same way as your first, i.e. if you were dealt another pair you can split again if you wish. 

In general, the main principle you need to bear in mind when thinking about splitting is this: don't turn one mediocre hand into two below average hands. For example, two sevens might give you a relatively weak total of 14 but if the dealer is showing a nine (usually a sign of strength), then splitting is unwise because you'll essentially be paying double to create two hands that will most likely still lose. On top of this principle, you should be using a blackjack strategy guide to help improve your decisions making. 

A Peek at a Blackjack Cheat Sheet
So what does a blackjack cheat sheet look like? Every chart will contain the same basic information and consist of an X and Y axis, a blackjack guide tells you whether you should hit, stand, split or double your hand. Taking into account your starting total and the face card of the dealer, the chart is based on the most mathematically profitable move in each scenario. 



To use the chart is simple: you first look down the Y axis to find your starting total (at this point you should also note whether your total is soft – i.e. containing an ace – or hard). Once you’ve found your hand you then trace across the chart and stop at the dealer’s up card. The point at which the two columns intersect is where you’ll find the move you should make. 

Using a strategy chart is perfectly legal and could be done at the table if you so wished. However, the main benefit of such a chart is as a learning tool. By getting a feel for which scenarios you should be hitting and which you should be standing, you’ll have a much better basis for making profitable decisions. 

Indeed, while it’s fine to use the chart as an ultimate guide, you should be willing to deviate from it at certain points in order to account for changing dynamics at the table. For example, you may be at a table where a lot of tens have been dealt from the shoe. At this point you’ll know that the chances of a ten coming from the deck are a lot lower and, thus, the chances of going bust with a third card will be less. 

Blackjack strategy charts are one of the best ways to master the fundamental skills you need to become a blackjack pro. Indeed, by following the one shown in this article you'll be able to seriously improve your chances of making profitable splits, doubles, stands and hits. 


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Understanding Blackjack Strategy

Understanding when to split while playing blackjack can be crucial to winning. Discover when to split in blackjack and win more

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