Lesson 14 – The Advanced Course – Part 2

Last Updated: February 18, 2020

Basic Strategy Variations: Hit or Stand?

The most common decision any player makes at Blackjack is whether to hit or stand, consequently this will be the most common basic strategy variation and you should learn all the important ones. The first is with a hand of 16 against a dealer’s up card of 10. You should stand if the count is 0 or higher and hit if it is less than 0. This means that if the running count is 0 or higher, stand. Since the ‘decision’ number is 0, it’s not necessary to calculate the true count — the running count will do in this situation. Don’t get confused here. Almost all basic strategy variations rely on the true count, but for those where the decision number is 0, the running count will suffice.

The next most important hand is 15 against a dealer’s 10. The decision number is a true count of 4, if you are playing at a game of four decks or more. This variation and the others can be easily learned if you make a set of flashcards. They needn’t be fancy or sophisticated; merely accurate. Cut some 2′” squares from manila folders and they’ll work just fine. A typical flashcard should look like this

Flash Card 1

If you imagine the 10 and 16 placed on the centerline of a 2″ X 2″ square, the 0 is offset so your left thumb covers the number. As you go through the stack, recite “sixteen versus 10, stand at zero” (or higher). For a hand of 15 vs. 10, a card will look like this

Flash Card 2

When you come to this card, you’ll recite “15 versus 10; stand at 4”.

As time goes on, you won’t need to remind yourself that you should stand with the 15 against 10, so you’ll recite “15 versus 10 is 4”.

Got the idea?

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Here are the numbers you’ll need to learn. These may vary a bit from numbers you’ll see published in books like Stanford Wong’s “Professional Blackjack” because the ones I use are specifically for a six-deck game where the dealer stands on A-6 and a few have been modified based upon the theory of ‘risk averse’ play which was developed about 15 years ago. These numbers work well; they have been proven in thousands of hours of actual casino play by me and my students. Do NOT use them for single-deck games, however. Single-deck play requires different numbers and will be covered in a future lesson.

Note from the BlackjackInfo.com editor:

There are slight differences in the GameMaster’s index numbers published here and the optimized numbers on the BlackjackInfo Advanced Blackjack Strategy Cards.

These differences are usually due to the use of risk-averse calculations by the GameMaster. I maintain that for the majority of players (who are not playing near the maximum Kelly fraction of their bankroll), straight indexes are preferable to risk-adjusted ones. In any case where risk-averse indexes differ from straight indexes, even by several points, the decisions are quite close and the effect of choosing one index style over another is minimal.


Basic Strategy Variations: 6 Decks, Dealer Stands on A-6

12 vs. 2Stand at 3 or higher
12 vs. 3Stand at 2 or higher
12 vs. 4Stand at 0 or higher(Yes, if the running count is at all minus, you hit 12 against a 4. It drives the other players at the table crazy!!!)
12 vs. 5Stand at -1 or higher(This means you hit if the count is LOWER than -1).
13 vs. 2Stand at -1 or higher
14 vs. AceStand at 9 or higher
15 vs. 7Stand at 10 or higher
15 vs. 8Stand at 10 or higher
15 vs. 9Stand at 8 or higher
15 vs. 10Stand at 4 or higher
15 vs. AceStand at 9 or higher
16 vs. 7Stand at 9 or higher
16 vs. 8Stand at 7 or higher
16 vs. 9Stand at 5 or higher
16 vs. 10Stand at 0 or higher
16 vs. AceStand at 8 or higher

And to finish it off, one weird play: Stand with A-7 against Ace at 1 or higher.

Homework

Make up a set of flashcards and begin learning these variations.



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David
David
2 years ago

What if the dealer hits on soft 17? They hit on soft 17 at my casino. Do I still proceed with the same instructions? How much of a difference does it make, percentage wise, if I follow these exact same rules you recommend if dealer hits soft 17

Knightonthetiles
Knightonthetiles
3 years ago

Thanks for the reply…. very kind

Knightonthetiles
Knightonthetiles
3 years ago

Fantastic resource Ken, congratulations! I’d like to buy you and the gamesmaster a drink!

Learning these deviations from basic strategy begs the question; Was basic strategy created using a zero T.count?

basic strategy = 16 vs dealer’s 10 = hit
0 count deviation = 16 vs dealer’s 10 = stand

I must induce that it wasn’t.

george
george
4 years ago

Why are there some difference in advanced strategy indexes between the one in this site and casino verite. Even casino verite has two version of high low strategy how do I know which one to use

Stefan
Stefan
4 years ago

Ken one question please !!!if for example in a very bad true count like -5 or -6 if the dealer has 5 or 6 and player has pairs of 6 the corect is to take one card ar two split?or when a player has pairs of 4 he shoud avoid split?thanks for your time

Stefan
Stefan
4 years ago

Excelent forum !!!until now what i read make things more clear in my head .thanks alot

Broman
Broman
4 years ago

I’d really like to buy your cards, but you don’t have the specific card I need… Do you know the indices for a 4D, H17, DAS, No surrender, Peek, game? If not, do you know where I could find them (without buying $200 software….)?

Broman
Broman
4 years ago
Reply to  Broman

Whoops, forgot to mention the key difference: I use KO, not Hi-Lo

Broman
Broman
4 years ago
Reply to  Ken Smith

Thanks for that. I’ll just use the HiLo system in that case and get the cards. It’s worth it just to support this site!

Question: when I buy them, can you send them electronically or do I have to wait for them in the mail?

BIllchacho
BIllchacho
4 years ago

That makes sense. Thanks for the quick response. Love your website

BIllchacho
BIllchacho
4 years ago

I have a question regarding the logic of these variations (and actually, card counting in general now that I think about it).

Say you have a hard 15 against the dealer’s 7. You say to stand if the count is above 10. The reasoning behind this is that with a high count, there is a much higher percentage that the next card is a high card and that you will bust. However, under this same logic, there is ALSO a very high percentage that the dealer’s hole card is a face card, since the hole card is unknown and is subject to the same probability as the rest of the deck. Meaning that there is a high chance that your 15 will lose to the dealer’s 7.

I know you said in a different comment not to focus on the “why”, but I’ve realized that the dealer’s hole card should be seriously considered with the count in mind. Do these indexes account for the hole card? Are there computer simulations or other data that demonstrate the validity of these indexes?

Also, quick unrelated follow-up question: Did you ever re-calculate the table in Lesson 9 about Standard Deviation? It was calculated using a flat $12 bet, not a spread. If you haven’t gotten to this yet, could you point me in the direction of some software or something that I could use to run simulations/calculations myself? I could save you some time and send you the results, if so.

Tristan
Tristan
4 years ago

Hi,

Quick question, I thought you were always supposed to stand 13v2?

thanks

slammin salmon
slammin salmon
5 years ago

Any chance you have a variations chart for 6 deck but the dealer must hit soft 17?

Ram
Ram
5 years ago

Hi Ken,
I dont get it 12 vs. 5 stand at – 1 or higher what i understand too many cards in the decks so i need to hit again is that the correct move? And what why is it -1 count is higher than -3 or above?thanks

Theoriemeister
Theoriemeister
5 years ago

Hi Ken,

I’m in the process of learning the ‘Illustrious 18,’ and I recognize your situations above. My question has to do with multiple-card 16s. Let’s say the TC = -1 and I’m dealt 8, 5 v. dealer 10. I hit and receive a 3. So now I have 3 cards totaling 16 instead of a stiff 16. I’ve read elsewhere (WizardofVegas) that the odds every so slightly favor standing on a 3-card 16 rather than hit. After all, I’ve already received one little card from the deck. Does my chance of busting increase even just a little bit? Also, at how many cards what would you stand regardless of count? Every once in a while I’ll draw a 5-card 16 and I always stand, ’cause I think there’s no way I’m going to receive four consecutive little cards. Thoughts?

Nicolai
Nicolai
5 years ago

Just to be sure.. 15 vs 8 – Stand at 10 or higher, you mean the running count right? I’m confused ..

kpal
kpal
5 years ago

Can somebody please explain the logic behind staying on A,7 vs A with a TC of 1 or greater? Thanks

kpal
kpal
5 years ago
Reply to  Ken Smith

Ahh, that makes sense. I was thinking there would be no harm in a hitting if the odds were high that you would receive a 10. However, I suppose is there is still a good chance of receiving a 7, 8, or 9, which would put you in a bad situation with a positive count. Thanks!

Stefan
Stefan
4 years ago
Reply to  Ken Smith

Is this also for european bj?

Grex
Grex
5 years ago

So do I have to keep changing back and forth from real count to true count between making my decisions and counting or did I miss the part where one of courses touched on that point?

Grex
Grex
5 years ago
Reply to  Ken Smith

One more question, you only start counting after the deck has been reshuffled into the shoe correct? If you jump in midshoe, you would just play according to the table in Lesson 1 correct?

Grex
Grex
5 years ago
Reply to  Ken Smith

To confirm, the count starts at zero when the shoe is shuffled again correct?

Thanks again for your help and patience!

Pokerkid52
Pokerkid52
5 years ago

Thanks for all the amazing resources.

How would the above basic strategy variations table change if the game involved the dealer hitting on soft 17 instead of standing. This is the more common format that I see in casinos so it is what I have been basing my basic strategy around. Would the true count cutoffs be significantly different with this slight dealer rule change?

How would you know how to vary your basic strategy based on the true count for other variations in rules?

Thanks again for all the help

Ben Nelson
Ben Nelson
5 years ago

Is it more favourable to surrender than to hit 16 vs 10 at -1? I’m sure this info is on here somewhere, but I haven’t found it.
Thanks for the site and info
B

Ben Nelson
Ben Nelson
5 years ago
Reply to  Ken Smith

Thanks for the reply; can you explain why the -4 makes it favourable to surrender as opposed to hit? I thought a lower count would increase the player’s chances of getting winning hand.
Thanks so much!
B

Ben Nelson
Ben Nelson
5 years ago
Reply to  Ken Smith

thanks- great clarity and information. A last question- basic strategy (6 Decks, S17, DA2, DAS, No surrender) says hit 16 vs 10, but here the variation is to stand on it once the count is zero or higher. Can you explain this just a bit? Everything else I’ve read on blackjack confirms your basic strategy chart.
Thanks again
Ben