Blackjack is one of the most popular card games at land and online casinos across the globe - including many parts of Africa - and for good reason; it’s fun, easy to learn and can grow your chip stack if you know what you’re doing and you follow a basic Blackjack strategy.
In fact, if Blackjack has one drawback it’s that it’s deceptively simple to play. What this means is that virtually anyone can play this game in just a matter of minutes, but it requires a certain degree of skill to lessen the casino or house edge to maximise your winnings.
The house edge of Blackjack ranges from 0.5% to 2% depending on the skill of the player. For instance, experienced players who use a basic Blackjack strategy and know the rules of the various Blackjack variants can reduce the house edge down to a fairly negligible 0.5%.
Inexperienced players, however, who don’t understand the rules properly and who don’t use a basic strategy can face a house edge as high as 2%. Although Blackjack has one of the lowest house edges of any casino game, a 2% edge is enough to eat up your funds fast.
This is why if your goal is to play Blackjack for real money and enjoy a consistent level of success at any African land, online or mobile casino, you have to do your ‘homework.’ If you don’t and play solely with your ‘gut,’ you’ll most certainly lose more than you’ll win.
Before you throw your hands up in the air at the mere mention of homework, all this entails is for you to learn the subtle rules differences of each variant of Blackjack you intend to play as well as the basic strategy for each. With this information memorised, you’re all set.
This is not to say luck doesn’t play a role in Blackjack because, as in all gambling games, it does. It’s just that by making use of the Blackjack basic strategy i.e. knowing how to play every hand optimally, you’ll give yourself the best chance of capitalising on your bets.
Blackjack Rules Recap
The objective of Blackjack is to beat the dealer by either having a better hand than his i.e. a hand with a higher point total (of up 21 or as close to 21 as possible) or if he busts i.e. he keeps dealing himself cards until his total point count exceeds 21.
In Blackjack Aces are worth 1 or 11 points, picture cards (Jacks, Queens and Kings) are worth 10 points, and all other cards (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10) are worth their face value.
A new round of Blackjack starts with you placing a bet (from the table minimum up to the table maximum) per hand - up to as many as 5 hands - before you’re dealt two face up cards and the dealer is dealt one face up card or one face up card and one face down card.
You must then decide to Hit, Stand, Surrender (Fold), buy Insurance, Double or Split, each of which is explained in great detail on our Basic Blackjack Rules and Variations page. Once you’re done, it’s the dealer’s turn to reveal his face down card or deal himself another.
If his card total is less than 17, he must keep dealing himself cards until he get 7 or more, or exceeds 21 (busts). If, when all the cards have been dealt, the dealer’s hand is higher than yours (or any other player’s, but doesn’t exceed 21), you lose that particular hand.
If your hand beats the dealer’s, you’ll be paid 1:1 (including if you make 21). If you get dealt a natural Blackjack (21 with your initial cards) you’ll be paid 3:2. If you and the dealer have the same (tied) hand, your initial bet is returned to you. An insurance bet pays 2:1.
Knowing When to Stand, Hit, Split, Double or Surrender
As you can see from the above Blackjack rules recap, the mechanics of this dynamic and popular card game are fairly quick and easy to grasp. The real trick in Blackjack, however, is knowing exactly when to Stand, Hit, Split, Double or Surrender and when not to.
This is where basic Blackjack strategy plays an enormous role. You may think that knowing which action to take is all about the cards in your respective hands but you’d be very wrong. Many of the actions specified in basic strategy are based on the dealer’s up card.
By learning and remembering the following basic strategy, you can make optimum decisions with each and every hand, every time. You may not see the rewards of this immediately, but you will over time. Remember that Blackjack is a marathon of a game, not a sprint.
The following actions are based on variants of Blackjack where the rules dictate the dealer must stand on a soft 17 (a hand that contains an Ace)...
Classic Blackjack Basic Strategy (4 decks)
Classic Blackjack, which is also called European Blackjack, is one of the world’s most loved and frequently played and popular variants which is why you’ll find it offered at many online and land casinos that welcome players from Africa.
It has two stand out characteristics, the first being that it is usually played with 4 x 52 card decks (although it can also be played with 6 and 8 decks) and the second is that the dealer has to stand on Soft 17. Here is the Classic Blackjack Basic Strategy:
When to Hit in Blackjack
Hit if you have a hard hand (a hand without an Ace) with a value of:
- 16 and the dealer is showing an 8 or a 7
- 15 and the dealer is showing an Ace, 9, 8 or 7
- 4, 5, 6, 7 or 8 and the dealer is showing an Ace, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3 or 2
- 9 and the dealer is showing an Ace, 10, 9, 8, 7 or 2
- 10 and the dealer is showing an Ace or a 10
- 11 and the dealer is showing an Ace
- 12 and the dealer is showing an Ace, 10, 9, 8, 7, 3 or 2
- 13 or 14 and the dealer is showing a 7, 8, 9, 10 or Ace
Hit if you have a soft hand (a hand with an Ace) with a value of:
- 13 or 14 and the dealer is showing an Ace, 10, 9, 8, 7, 4, 3 or 2
- 15 or 16 and the dealer is showing an Ace, 10, 9, 8, 7, 3 or 2
- 17 and the dealer is showing an Ace, 10, 9, 8, 7or 2
- 18 and the dealer is showing an Ace, 10 or 9
When to Split in Blackjack
Split if you’re dealt a pair of:
- 2s or 3s and the dealer is showing 7, 6, 5 or 4
- 6s and the dealer is showing 6, 5, 4 or 3
- 7s and the dealer is showing 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7
- 9s and the dealer is showing a 9, 8, 6, 5, 4, 3 or 2
- 8s or Aces and the dealer is showing an Ace, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3 or 2
When to Double in Blackjack
Double if you have a hard hand with a value of:
- 9 and the dealer is showing a 6, 5, 4 or 3
- 10 and the dealer is showing a 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3 or 2
- 11 and the dealer is showing a 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3 or 2
Double if you have a soft hand with a value of:
- 13 or 14 and the dealer is showing a 6 or 5
- 15 or 16 and the dealer is showing a 6, 5 or 4
- 17 or 18 and the dealer is showing a 6, 5, 4 or 3
When to Surrender in Blackjack
Surrender if you have a hand with a value of:
- 15 and the dealer is showing a 10
- 16 and the dealer is showing an Ace, 10 or 9
Learn the Basic Blackjack Strategy Charts
No matter what variant of Blackjack you want to play, there is a corresponding Blackjack chart for it. This is a colour-coded quick reference card or guide that contains and cross references all possible player hand values with those of the dealer.
The point of these charts is to tell you what the optimum or ideal action is to take i.e. Hit, Stand, Double, Split or Surrender. By using basic Blackjack strategy charts when playing your hands, you can reduce the house edge to as close to 0.5% as possible.
By doing this you’ll increase your chances of winning with greater frequency, and thus make your Blackjack session even more worthwhile. If you’re new to online Blackjack games, it’s a good idea to print out Blackjack strategy charts for easy reference.
Find out What the House Rules are for Blackjack
While you’ll come across many variants of Blackjack games that have their own unique set of rules, in a rising number of cases the land and online casinos themselves dictate how a particular game of Blackjack must be played, regardless of the variant.
For instance, a common casino rule dictates that the dealer must always hit on a 16 or less. Another is that the dealer must always hit on a soft 17. But the important thing is no matter what game or casino you settle on that you learn and play by their rules.
That way you stand the very best chance of growing your chip stack instead of losing it.