Last Updated: January 19, 2011

Blackjack Appendix 21 — Wizard’s Simple Blackjack Strategy

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The following table shows my "Wizard's Simple Blackjack Strategy."

Here are some comments of clarification.

  • A "hard" hand is one that either has no aces, or has aces that are forced to count as point, lest the hand bust. A "soft" hand is one with at least one ace, which may still count as one or eleven points.
  • With a hard 10 or 11, double if you have more points than the dealer, treating a dealer ace as 11 points. Specifically, double with 10 against a 2 to 9, and with 11 against 2 to 10.
  • If the strategy says to double, but you have three or more cards, or table rules don't allow soft doubling, then hit, except stand with a soft 18.
  • If the strategy says to surrender (16 vs. 10), but you can't for whatever reason, then hit.
  • If the strategy says to "not split," then treat the hand has a hard total of 8, 10, or 20, according to the pair in question.

The cost of using this strategy, compared to the basic strategy is only 0.14%, based on liberal Vegas Strip rules. That is about the cost of one hand for every 10 hours of play.

The following table shows the plays where this strategy is incorrect. The plays are listed in order of the cost of the error. If you already know the Wizard's Simple Blackjack Strategy, and wish to improve your game, start with the top of the list, and work your way down. For example, if you hit hard 12 against a 2, your error rate will go down by 0.0254%. Half of the 0.14% error rate can be eliminated by learning just the top four plays.

Wizard's Simple Blackjack Strategy — Incorrect Plays

Player Dealer Probability Wizard Strategy Basic Strategy Wizard Expected Value Basic Expected Value Cost
Hard 12 2 0.006281 S H -0.293394 -0.252960 0.000254
Soft 18 7 0.000881 H S 0.171872 0.401861 0.000203
Hard 12 3 0.006396 S H -0.252112 -0.232448 0.000126
7,7 7 0.000404 H P -0.331784 -0.048567 0.000114
Hard 15 10 0.020205 H R -0.503453 -0.500000 0.000070
Soft 18 8 0.000919 H S 0.041028 0.108057 0.000062
Soft 15 6 0.000919 H D 0.118402 0.182917 0.000059
9,9 8 0.000440 S P 0.099261 0.229929 0.000058
Hard 16 A 0.00318 H R -0.51537 -0.500000 0.000049
Soft 16 2 0.000919 D H -0.073426 -0.022828 0.000047
3,3 7 0.000440 H P -0.153797 -0.051101 0.000045
2,2 7 0.000440 H P -0.088828 0.008597 0.000043
Soft 14 6 0.000919 H D 0.140226 0.186374 0.000042
9,9 9 0.000404 S P -0.185235 -0.081564 0.000042
Soft 15 5 0.000919 H D 0.094352 0.133708 0.000036
Soft 13 6 0.000919 H D 0.162671 0.187925 0.000023
Hard 16 9 0.004557 H R -0.504633 -0.500000 0.000021
Soft 14 5 0.000919 H D 0.115726 0.138428 0.000021
Hard 9 2 0.002719 D H 0.070004 0.077180 0.00002
4,4 6 0.000440 H P 0.124399 0.168189 0.000019
Soft 16 3 0.000919 D H -0.009099 0.007133 0.000015
4,4 5 0.000440 H P 0.083624 0.111900 0.000012
Soft 17 2 0.000919 D H -0.003955 0.000693 0.000004
Soft 18 2 0.000919 D S 0.12098 0.124001 0.000003
Soft 15 4 0.000881 H D 0.059395 0.062389 0.000003
Soft 13 5 0.000919 H D 0.137333 0.139852 0.000002
Total 0.05822 0.001392

Key to Table:

D=Double
H=Hit
P=sPlit
R=suRrender
S=Stand

A reader named Jeff provided another table of my simple strategy, with exceptions in small print.

Strategy for the Visually Impaired

Somebody wrote to me asking me to provide a blackjack strategy for the visually impaired. He said that text to voice translators don't pick up on my strategy images. So, for my visually impaired readers out there, here is my simple strategy in text.

Always:

  1. Hit hard 8 or less.
  2. Stand on hard 17 or more.
  3. Hit on soft 15 or less.
  4. Stand on soft 19 or more.
  5. With 10 or 11, double if you have more than the dealer's up card (treating a dealer ace as 11 points), otherwise hit.
  6. Surrender 16 against 10.
  7. Split eights and aces.

If the player hand does not fit one of the above "always" rules, and the dealer has a 2 to 6 up, then play as follows:

  1. Double on 9.
  2. Stand on hard 12 to 16
  3. Double soft 16 to 18.
  4. Also split 2's, 3's, 6's, 7's, and 9's.

If the player hand does not fit one of the above "always" rules, and the dealer has a 7 to A up, then hit.

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