What is a basic strategy?
The basic strategy for blackjack consists of a set of tables that tell you what to do in any blackjack situation. It summarizes the most successful plays for all possible player / dealer combinations and tells you whether to stand, hit, double, or split (as well as when to surrender, if available). There are many basic strategy tables available online, but they are all very similar, with only minor variations, so any set will work.
How much better are you going to do?
Blackjack is easy to learn and easy to play for fun, but basic strategy will improve your chances if you are playing to win. Using a basic blackjack strategy can reduce the house edge to just 0.5% in a six-deck game. That means you have a nearly 50/50 chance of winning your hand. This compares well to roulette, where the house edge is 2.7% with a single zero and more than 5% with a double zero. In these circumstances, you will lose even chance bets, such as red / black or odd / even, eleven times for every ten you win, on average.
Table rules are usually printed on the playing surface.
The fewer decks used in the game, the lower the house edge. In fact, the basic strategy technique is so good that in a single-deck game, where the dealer is at a soft 17, it is the player who actually has a slight 0.1% advantage over the dealer. It may not sound like much, but it is much better than most games and can make a significant difference to your winnings over time.
Learning the basic strategy
A traditional casino is unlikely to allow you to bring the strategy tables to the blackjack table, so you need to learn it beforehand to instinctively know what to do as soon as you see your cards. Margins are already very tight, so there is no “good enough” here; you have to be perfect Getting 98% of your calls right only gives you another 2% house edge, giving blackjack the same performance as roulette, despite all your hard work.
You need to practice and practice your basic blackjack strategy until you are flawless before you start playing. Different people learn in different ways, some memorize the visual image of the charts while others see patterns or just memorize. An easy way is to download blank tables and fill them in every day until you know them by heart. Of course, if you play blackjack online, you can simply print out the basic strategy charts and have them in front of you as you play.
Other ways to reduce the house edge.
There are many subtle variations in the rules of blackjack, and you can improve your chances of winning by choosing the correct game. Make sure the dealer has to stand on all 17s, because if he can hit a soft 17, the house edge increases by 0.2%. Games that allow early surrender, before the dealer checks for blackjack, can reduce the house edge by 0.624%, while the option to double after split will also reduce the house edge by 0.13%.