Start Here – Get Blackjack Smart!

Blackjack is a game that rewards knowledge. If you enjoy the game, shouldn’t you give yourself the best chance of winning that you can?

While the typical blackjack player loses about 1.5% of their bets over the long run, a smart player can do a lot better than that. Improving is easy…

Basic Strategy is a Strong Start

Many casinos offer a version of the game where a basic strategy player’s expected loss is only around 0.3%. By just choosing the right game and using a correct basic strategy, your results have already improved five-fold over a typical player!

A player who plays at this skill level can already “beat” the game if you consider the value of comps and freebies he can get. (See How a Basic Strategy Player Can Beat Blackjack.)

Card Counting Lets You Turn The Tables

If you want to beat the game in the long run for actual cash, that’s possible too. In fact, Blackjack is probably the easiest game in the casino where a knowledgeable player can get a mathematical edge over the game. By learning to count cards, you can expect to win more money than you lose. You don’t have to be a genius to count cards… You just need to be willing to study, practice, and play with discipline.

Either Way, Knowledge is Valuable

Sure, card counting is not for everyone, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with playing blackjack for its entertainment value. But even a recreational player will be well-rewarded for spending some time learning the correct basic strategy.

Whether you want to improve as a basic strategy player or you are here to learn to count cards, BlackjackInfo will provide you the tools you need to improve your game. Just remember our tagline: “BlackjackInfo: Because Winning is More Fun!”

Our Most Popular Basic Strategy Resource

Knowing the correct way to play each and every hand is the cornerstone of winning at blackjack. BlackjackInfo has been providing free accurate custom strategy charts longer than anyone else on the Internet. We are the home of the original

Blackjack Basic Strategy Engine

Just plug in the rules from your local casino, and you’ll get a perfectly customized strategy for that exact game.

Our Most Popular Card Counting Resource

If you want to learn to count cards, our free 24-lesson course on card counting is a great place to start.

The GameMaster’s Blackjack School

A Massive Archive of Blackjack Discussions

Perhaps our most valuable asset is an absolute treasure trove of blackjack know-how.

Blackjack Knowledge Base

The collection holds over 200,000 posts from years of questions and conversations about the game. Dig in!

The Top Four Blackjack Books

If you want to learn more about blackjack, the following article details recommended reading material.

Top Four Blackjack Books

So, what are you waiting for?! Go get blackjack smart!

46 comments on "Start Here – Get Blackjack Smart!"

  • Richard Lofink said:

    I have followed all instructions and analyzer does not come…any suggestions

  • annonymious with hold name said:

    Before sitting at a table to play, what should I be looking for, or does it really matter

  • Glen said:

    Hi Ken,
    Surrender with a hard 5, against an Ace????????????????????????????????????

  • IF you have BS down 100% and are proficient counting cards for Double Deck, how much money should you take for a session if your min bet is $25 and your max is $50? And how long should you expect to play for the game to become profitable? Biloxi has a Double Deck that stands on a soft 17 and pays 3-2.

    • Author Ken Smith replied:

      If you plan to play for a couple of hours at $25 to $50 bets, a session bankroll of around $800 will give you enough to weather all but maybe 5% of your sessions. However, please be aware that a spread of $25 to $50 is insufficient to beat the game, even the favorable two deck rules in Biloxi. It’s probably close to a break-even spread. To have a reasonable positive expectation, you likely need at least a $25 to $100 spread. That will also increase the required session bank, to over $1000.

      • RN replied:

        Thank you. I can increase my session bankroll to $2,000. Will this provide a positive expectation? It may take me two months to increase my bankroll so during that time I will continue using your training game to practice the correct strategy. I appreciate your reply and your website.

        • Author Ken Smith replied:

          A 1 to 4 spread is normally still low for a 2-deck game, but your game has good rules. This should be profitable. To be sure, time your restroom breaks for the really bad counts. The only way to know the actual numbers would be to simulate it using CVData or CVCX software. But it sounds reasonable to me.

  • Paul Hennessey said:

    I am thankful to this site for making me a better player. I do not understand why the basic strategy calls for a hit rather than a double 11 against an ace .With the dealer having proved he does not have a BJ.

    • In H17 games (and 1-deck and 2-deck S17 games too), basic strategy does have the player double 11 vs Ace, so it’s a close call. In S17 games with more than 2 decks, where you should not double 11 vs Ace, the inability to draw again if you make a poor hand slightly outweighs the benefit of doubling the bet. (The dealer busts less often in those games, which probably explains most of the difference.) But as with most questions of basic strategy, it just is what it is. It’s not always intuitively obvious why one play is better than the other.

  • chris said:

    I have basic strategy down ok. couple quick questions – Is it always best to play one spot? Do i always hit my 12 against the dealers 2 up-card and the dealers 3 up-card? Do i hit my soft 17 all the time? When do I hit soft 18? When do I double my soft 17 against dealer –

    • Martin Morris replied:

      Yes read Winning Black Jack for the Noncounterby Avery Cardoza and Play Blackjack like the pro’s by kevin black. When you hit your 12 vs 2 and 3, your chances of busting low. Hit your soft 17 all the time.Soft 18 facing 3-6 DD or Stand. 2,7 8 stand. Hit 9 or above because more 10’s in deck. You assume the deal will draw a 10 that will beat your Soft 18.

  • Stefan said:

    I understand ken .thanks for the answer!i agree that first thing is to learn the basics.just for the info yesterday i was playing bj and counting everythink was ok 7 at 10 times my bets was correct and sometimes i was deviatied from basic strategy with good results for example is 12 vs 4 or in 12 vs 3.all that finished when they bring new dealer to the table.super super fast hands. I couldnt keep counting.even when i changed to last base as a player i was loosing the count.and her behaviour was very rude to me.

  • Stefan said:

    No ken maybe i didnt posted corect.i ment when the tc is negative should the table have more bases so u can get rid off the low cards and when the tc is high to close as much u can tbe bases so to have full avantage of the high cards?when the tc is minus ofcorse u try to keep your bet al low u can

    • Author Ken Smith replied:

      Playing more spots in a negative count means making more minimum bets in a negative situation, and is not justified. Generally you would be better off with more spots in high counts, but it can depend on how close you are to the shuffle point among other things. I recommend just one spot regardless of the count until you are familiar enough with the game to run your own simulations to optimize multiple hands. The factors are not always obvious. In my own play, I almost always play only one spot. The main exceptions are when I am playing some kind of promotion.

  • Stefan said:

    Ken if the true count is minus enough the answer is to open more bases?and the oposite to close and play as much less when the tc is plus ?

    • Author Ken Smith replied:

      It sounds like you have it backwards. Bet as little as possible in negative counts, and make your big bets in positive counts. Don’t worry about spreading to multiple hands yet, until you are proficient at the basics.

  • Alex said:

    hi, ive been told going in and out favors the dealer… was wondering if that’s true and why..

  • Pocket Ace said:

    Is Basic Strategy only for your initial hand? Does it change or stay the same when you’re sitting on a 3, 4, or 5+ card hand? For example, Say I have 7 (5, 2) against dealer 9, I hit, 5 comes out, now I’m sitting on 12 (5, 2, 5) do I follow BS still? Hit a 12 against 9? I hit, 4 comes out, now I’m sitting on 16 (5, 2, 5, 4) against dealer 9. BS says to hit again… So my questions is does BS change when you have hands like these? Or do you always play BS, no matter how many cards in your hand? (let’s just ignore variation when counting, I just mean true BS)

    Thanks 🙂

    • Author Ken Smith replied:

      The hit and stand advice of basic strategy applies no matter how many cards are in your hand. Splitting, doubling, and surrender are only available with two-card hands, so they obviously are a special case. Just use your total hand to look up the correct decision.

    • Martin Morris replied:

      No use the BS through all hands. You start going against the math and will lose. Then you start playing randomly. Listen Ken and follow BS

  • How do casino BJ machines compare to your site – similar random # generators, speeds, etc?

    • Your question asks specifics that probably aren’t relevant to what you really want to know…
      Are the random number generators in my trainer and those in a casino video blackjack machine “similar”?
      Well, yes and no. They are probably very different in the actual programming, because there are many ways to code an RNG. But yes, they both provide reasonably high quality streams of random numbers.

      What you likely really want to know is how your results will compare when playing in a casino compared to on my site’s trainer.
      No one can answer that ahead of time, because it comes down to the random results.
      If you are luckier on my site, you’ll do better there. If you are luckier in the casino, your results will be better in the casino.
      Both my trainer and the casino’s games use the same rules and conditions. What happens after that is luck, good or bad.
      The short term results in either place will not give you ANY information about what will happen next time you play.

      There is one frequent difference between my trainer and video blackjack in a casino. Many casino video blackjack games pay only even money for blackjack. If that is the case, the screen will likely say “Blackjack pays 2 for 1”. That means they take your 1 unit bet and pay you back 2 units if you get a blackjack. That’s the same as even money, or a “1 to 1” payout. This rule is terrible, and will substantially increase your losses.

      Usually, the large multi-player video blackjack games do pay the normal 3:2 for blackjack, but be sure to check the rules on the machine you want to play. Most of the single player vbj machines will have the worse rule.

  • I’d like some help with my reasoning of the cut card effect on a shoe game. I am used to playing a shoe game using eight decks, with the cut card placed about three decks from the end, so only five of the eight decks are dealt.

    It seems to me that with this setup, the cut card helps the players. If the front of the shoe is rich in high cards, more hands are dealt. If it is rich in low cards, fewer hands are dealt. Therefore, the players get to play more hands when the shoe is favorable, and fewer hands when it is unfavorable. Thus, with only five-deck penetration in an eight deck shoe, it looks like the cut card benefits the basic strategy player.

    Am I missing something?

    • Here’s a great page on the cut card effect and the impact it has:
      I see why your version sounds plausible, but it’s not quite what happens. Think of it this way instead… If the front of the shoe is rich in high cards, you are more likely to have to play an extra hand or two after all those good cards are already gone.
      Note that the effect is not dependent on any particular penetration. It exists any time the game uses a fixed shuffle point.

  • BJ Player said:

    I always wonder if the casinos actually put out the basic strategy plays to learn for their gain. Are you affiliated with any casinos?

    • I can assure you that basic strategy is not some sort of scheme devised by the casinos. It’s simply a mathematically provable set of the optimal choices for each decision. My only affiliation with land-based casinos is extracting money from them as a player. 🙂

    • Anonymous replied:

      BJ player.
      Casino’s put out basic strategy cards because they know it will attract people to play. $1.50 for the card, $20, $40 sit at the table. Just because people have them doesn’t mean they will use them correctly. If they have a hunch or gut feeling or have seen lots of low or high cards come out, they will go with their gut and ignore the card. You just have to remember 2 things. 1. Don’t get mad. They’re only there for a bit of fun. 2 PLAY YOUR GAME. Their decision doesn’t effect your play. GL. a5teve.

  • Hello Ken I absolutely love this site!!! i have always been interested in playing black jack, and when i found out tournament pay out are $25,000 with a $250 buy in from a friend, this go me hooked (it would also be great for paying school tuition). i also love the practice software. any advice for a newbie? also is their a facebook group?

  • leonard said:

    like the idea of telling your students to quit when ahead . cause the longer u play the more chance u have of deck turning against u especially if not able to count cards, counting cards is very difficult.

    • Author Ken Smith replied:

      When you should quit depends on whether you are playing with an edge or not.

      If not, quitting immediately and never playing again is optimal. Of course, you may not find that very entertaining. In that case, quit when you have exhausted your entertainment needs or budget.

      If you do have an advantage by card counting or another technique, you should quit when you are tired, or when you are getting more attention than is comfortable.
      Notice that your current win or loss has nothing to do with the decision, except in the way it affects the casino personnel’s opinion of you.

  • Kathy said:

    Can you recommend software for a MAC computer for Blackjack card counting?

  • Tom Bayly said:

    I have been practicing with your system a lot. I am now in the 95-97% approval. Where does that put me in ability to play quality and profitable BLACKJACK.

    • Author Ken Smith replied:

      To get to profitable blackjack, you’ll need counting. And I wouldn’t start worrying about card counting until you are at 100% basic strategy proficiency.
      While 95-97% accurate basic strategy is much better than the average player, it’s not good enough to approach beating the game. Keep at it!

  • john said:


    • Author Ken Smith replied:

      Fortunately, other players at the table do not change the strategy at all. Whether playing heads up or at a full table, basic strategy is the best way to play each hand without using any further information about the remaining deck composition.

  • Markus Friederich said:

    Hello, iam new and learning blackjack on casino Verite 5.0. How realistic is this software vs. life blackjack.

    • CV is extremely realistic, including various ways of shuffling that more closely mimic real shuffles. Having said that, if you are not shuffle tracking, the shuffle method really doesn’t matter. Casino shuffles are close enough to random for normal play that any decent shuffle process will yield the same long-term results.

      With any software, or even experience at a live table in the casino, don’t put much importance on your short-term results. It takes time to understand what kinds of swings are normal in the game. If you have a great winning session, or an awful losing session, that really doesn’t tell you anything about how you’ll do on your next trip. You have to take a very long-term approach to the game.

    • Dennis replied:


      • Playing heads up against the dealer is great, for one main reason. It’s fast! With no other players to slow down the game, you get more hands per hour and therefore a higher long-term win rate per hour. Of course, this assumes you are counting and playing accurately. But to answer your question, this is a good thing for a counter.

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