Lesson 14 – The Advanced Course – Part 2

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?

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. 2 Stand at 3 or higher
12 vs. 3 Stand at 2 or higher
12 vs. 4 Stand 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. 5 Stand at -1 or higher (This means you hit if the count is LOWER than -1).
13 vs. 2 Stand at -1 or higher
14 vs. Ace Stand at 9 or higher
15 vs. 7 Stand at 10 or higher
15 vs. 8 Stand at 10 or higher
15 vs. 9 Stand at 8 or higher
15 vs. 10 Stand at 4 or higher
15 vs. Ace Stand at 9 or higher
16 vs. 7 Stand at 9 or higher
16 vs. 8 Stand at 7 or higher
16 vs. 9 Stand at 5 or higher
16 vs. 10 Stand at 0 or higher
16 vs. Ace Stand at 8 or higher

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


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

All material in the Blackjack School is © Copyright 2007 The GameMaster Online, Inc.

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44 Comments on "Lesson 14 – The Advanced Course – Part 2"

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Thanks for the reply…. very kind


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.


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


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


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


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….)?


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


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

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… Read more »


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


slammin salmon

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


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

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,… Read more »

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


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


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?


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

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

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