What is the Optimal Strategy for Blackjack?

Luckily for players, blackjack (often known as 21), has the best house odds for gamblers; meaning if you’re looking to get into a new game with limited risk, blackjack is the one for you. One of the many perks of the game is that you’re only playing against the dealer, rather than intimidating poker champs, so the pressure isn’t quite as intense. The low house edge is also a great incentive to blackjack players, as it’s only 0.17% with a single deck (52 cards).

Beginning with two cards each, the ways to beat the dealer in blackjack are:

  • Get a ’blackjack’ (21 points) on your first two cards
  • Reach a final score higher than the dealer without going over a total of 21
  • Let the dealer draw additional cards until their hand exceeds 21

A ’blackjack’, the hand the game is named after, includes two cards featuring at least one ace and a face card (Jack, Queen or King), that equals 21.

The optimal strategy for blackjack is always basic strategy, which involves playing your hand of any value against the dealer’s up-card, as it loses the least money to the house in the long-term. This tactic, if implemented flawlessly, can drop the house odds to just 0.5%.

We have created this handy table to help you play the best strategy possible. You can also check out the rules below too if you’re a complete novice:


  • Always split aces and 8s
  • Never split 5s and 10s
  • Split 2s and 3s against a dealer 4-7
  • Split 4s if the dealer shows a 5 or 6
  • Split 6s against a dealer 2-6
  • Split 7s against a dealer 2-7
  • Split 9s against a dealer 2-6 or 8-9

Double Down

  • Double hard 9 vs dealer 3-6
  • Double hard 10 except against a dealer 10 or A
  • Double hard 11 except against a dealer A
  • Double soft 13 or 14 vs dealer 5-6
  • Double soft 15 or 16 vs dealer 4-6
  • Double soft 17 or 18 vs dealer 3-6


  • Always hit hard 11 or less
  • Stand on hard 12 against a dealer 4-6, otherwise hit
  • Stand on hard 13-16 against a dealer 2-6, otherwise hit
  • Always stand on hard 17 or more
  • Always hit soft 17 or less
  • Stand on soft 18 except hit against a dealer 9, 10, or A
  • Always stand on soft 19 or more

If this little strategy guide has got you interested and feeling confident in your newfound blackjack skills, head to Paddy Power for the best selection of games. Be sure to drop us a comment and let us know what you learned, and if it helped you win big at the table!