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Introducing: The Blackjack strategy cue card

You’ve just been dealt a hand in Blackjack. Crunch time Do you hit or stand? Double down? Split pairs? Ask anyone familiar with Blackjack and they’ll tell you—understanding basic strategy should be your goal before sitting down at the table. Luckily, you don’t need to figure out Blackjack strategy yourself. Instead, you can study a pre-made, ready-to-go, Blackjack strategy cue card. Think of it as your personal insider’s guide to the game.

The science behind the strategy

What makes the Blackjack strategy card so special? Math. Developed way back in the 1960s, the strategy was devised by an early IBM programmer named Julian Braun. This clever computer whiz theorized that the odds and possibilities that occur as cards are distributed, could be calculated by machine. Turns out, he was right.

Setting his sights on breaking Blackjack down into its basic mathematical components, the enterprising Mr. Braun sat at his room-sized computer terminal where it sorted through more than nine billion card combinations (yes, you read that correctly—nine billion).

How it works

The results of his work can be found today on the Basic Blackjack Strategy cards commonly available online, and in some casinos. In a nutshell, the cards explain how to respond to any and all possible Blackjack card combos. With just a glance, players can get a sense whether the odds are better to hit, stand, split, double down, etc.

When it comes to PlaySmart’s versions of the card, there are two, depending on whether dealers must “hit” or “stand” when their hand totals 17—a rule which varies depending where you play. While the random chance of the cards mean no decision ever guarantees a win, basing your moves on basic strategy can give you an edge over going with your gut.

Here’s what the cards look like.

To use it, players simply find their hand in the left hand vertical column, compare it with the “dealer’s hand in the top horizontal column, and follow the guidelines. Among the rules are universal insights like:

  • Always split Aces
  • Never split tens
  • Always stand on a 17 (if the hand doesn’t include an ace)
  • Always hit on an 8 or lower

It feels like cheating, but it isn’t

Using a basic strategy card may feel like cheating, but since it’s based purely on the logic of card values, it’s more like having a math tutor at your side. If you’re playing at a casino instead of online, make sure to check with your dealer if you can use one during play, and if not, you can always study up beforehand.

Ready to tackle Blackjack?  Download and print PlaySmart’s Blackjack very own strategy card.

To learn even more about Blackjack, including basic rules, odds and etiquette, visit PlaySmart now.