What is Basic Strategy?

The term basic strategy is tossed around all over sites with blackjack advice. It comes up when experienced blackjack players are imparting advice to novice players. And it is always recommended as the place to start with blackjack strategy.

But what the heck is basic strategy anyway?

Basic strategy is the simplest form of blackjack strategy available. Its most common appearance is a chart. Across the top is every single dealer up card, and down the left side are all the two card starting hands that a player could be dealt. Where the line of a dealer’s up card meets the line of a player’s hand is a play, either hit, stand, double down, split or in some cases surrender.

The play where the two lines meet is the best statistical play for the dealer up card/player hand combination. It is not a guaranteed win, but it is the best possible play for the player to make in that instance.

Over time playing perfect basic strategy can lower the house edge to 0.5%. And by perfect basic strategy I mean playing every single hand according to that chart, no deviations. This can sometimes be hard since players do not always want to put down the money to double down or split. But in the long run it pays to do so.

Basic Strategy is also perfectly legal to use in casinos and online casinos. Some brick and mortar casinos will even give players basic strategy charts—but they do so in hopes that the player will believe that they are supposed to win every time, become frustrated and stop using the card, resulting in erratic play which in turn results in more money for the casino.

The best that a player can do is to use the chart knowing they are not going to win every single hand, but that basic strategy will help their odds in the long run. The purpose of basic strategy is to increase money making opportunities, and the better the money is, the better the odds are. Stick with basic strategy.