You’ve probably heard many times over that blackjack is one of the best games for your money. If you’re able to play a smart game, it is possible to get the house advantage down to around 1%. Combine that with bonuses and other promotions and it’s easy to see why so many people flock to online blackjack.

The catch is that even basic blackjack strategy isn’t something you can just memorize in a few minutes. There’s a different correct play for just about every situation. Both your starting cards AND the dealer’s up card determine which play is mathematically correct to reduce the house advantage. Any time you deviate from the optimal strategy, you give up money to the house.

Fortunately, there’s an easy and fun way to memorize basic blackjack strategy. All you need is a reliable strategy card. If you save the following strategy card, you can use it at any online casino. Even brick-and-mortar casinos don’t mind if you keep a card with you at the table. In fact, many physical casinos even sell strategy cards to players for a few bucks.

Casinos don’t mind if you use a strategy card because they still have a small advantage when you play correctly. Plus, casinos realize that most players never end up sticking with the perfect strategy. Blackjack players tend to deviate from the optimal strategy out of either error or because they alter their play based on hunches and gut feelings.

Even though it’s fine to keep a strategy card with you when you play, it’s even better to learn how to apply strategy by heart. That way, you can ditch the card and focus on having a good time. The easiest way to memorize the optimal strategy is to use a strategy card as your training wheels. Put in enough time with a strategy card in front of you and eventually it will all sink in.

You don’t even have to play with real money if you’re not yet comfortable enough to do so. You can sign up for an account at any gambling site and play with fake chips for as long as it takes to get to your optimal comfort zone. When you’re ready, you can move to real money play.

The following strategy card is based on the most common set of blackjack rules: four to eight decks and the dealer stands on soft 17.

Blackjack Chart

How to Use this Strategy Card

This strategy card explains what you should do after seeing your first two cards and the dealer’s up card. First, look for your hand total on the left side of the chart. The first third of that column is devoted to hard totals (hand totals that don’t include a pair or an ace). Next up are hands that include an ace. Last are the hands made of pairs.

After you find your hand total, look up at the top row of the chart for the dealer’s up-card. The correct play is listed in the intersection of your hand total and the dealer’s up card.

You’ll find it easiest to start practicing at an online casino. Online blackjack is played between you and the automated dealer only. You can take as long as you want to make each decision. Keep this card open and play as slowly as you need to look up the correct play for each situation.

It will be slow going at first, but you’ll get faster as time goes on. You’ll start to recognize certain situations and remember the correct play. As you put in more time, you’ll memorize more and more plays. Eventually, you’ll get it all down by heart.

Now you can visit any casino in the world and have a major leg up over the people who never took the time to study and memorize optimal strategy. This skill will also come in handy if you ever decide to take up card counting.

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