Learning how read Blackjack strategy charts will prepared you for anything and everything
Home | Learn | Blackjack | How to Use Blackjack Strategy Charts

How to Use Blackjack Strategy Charts

August 5, 2023

Anyone who plays Blackjack knows that it is a game of strategy. Although it remains true that there is no way to avoid the casino’s inevitable house edge, knowledge of certain techniques and the ability to make use of them in the throes of a game can help to maximize positive outcomes and decrease negative ones.

Blackjack strategy charts are useful tools that have been aiding players in the game of 21 for several decades. In the early 1960s, American mathematician Edward O. Thorp introduced this calculated method in his aptly named book, Beat the Dealer, which went on to become a New York Times Bestseller with over 500,000 copies sold. Here we break down everything players need to know about Blackjack strategy charts and how to use them.

Different Types of Strategy Charts

While every Blackjack strategy chart features a set of decisions that cover different possible situations in the game, not all of these tables are created equal. Before discovering how to read strategy charts, it’s important for players to understand that charts vary slightly depending on the number of card decks the croupier uses. Most classic Blackjack strategy charts are single-deck ones, which factor in strategy for both standing on soft 17 and hitting on soft 17.

After single-deck charts, there are double-deck charts which are nearly identical apart from when it comes to doubling or surrendering. For example, a pair of 7s against a dealer’s 10 would be a hit in a two-deck game, but a stand in a one deck game. Lastly, there are 4 to 8 deck strategy charts – arguably the most popular of all types. There’s a high likelihood that players in the U.K. will be playing 8 deck Blackjack, so it can be a valuable chart to know.

Blackjack strategy charts are useful tools for anyone playing the game online, via mobile or tablet devices

Blackjack strategy charts are useful tools for anyone playing the game online, via mobile or tablet devices

Reading Strategy Charts Effectively

So, the moment you have been waiting for: how do you actually make sense of the tiny multi-coloured grids that appear on Blackjack strategy charts? Start by placing the chart in front of you and make note of its contents. On the left, you will see the types of player hands displayed horizontally. At the top of the chart, you will then see values from 2 to A which is every possible dealer up card. Every chart is divided into 3 sections based on if it is hard, soft, or split pairs, with the resolution changing depending on this.

Now, let’s put the chart into action. Imagine the dealer has just delt you your first 2 cards, now the chart will help you decide which move to make. To determine which section of the chart to use, check if your starting hand is hard, soft, or a pair. After you know this, find your hand on the left side and the dealer’s up card value at the top. Place both index fingers on each tiny square and move them slowly to the one where the player row and dealer column meet. This will reveal the recommended Blackjack move based on basic strategy.

By studying Blackjack strategy charts, players can begin to memorize certain moves that cover hundreds of different scenarios. Although there is no way to play perfectly every time, strategy charts can help players anticipate outcomes and react to them accordingly.