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How to Memorize Blackjack Basic Strategy

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By Chris DelliSanti, RN | NoteKnight Founder

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Memorizing Basic Strategy

The best way to memorize blackjack basic strategy is to use flashcards and drill what you learn immediately with training games. When you first see the basic strategy infographics, they can seem overwhelming. Below, you’ll find this material broken down into manageable groups you can memorize quickly. Once you have it down, it’s all about practice.


What is Basic Strategy?

Blackjack basic strategy is a set of mathematically derived rules that dictate optimal play for any given hand. Developed through extensive computer simulations and statistical analysis, this strategy minimizes the house edge to as little as 0.5%, making it a widely adopted methodology.


Brief History

Before the true birth of card counting, some early advantage players were already beating the odds. However, it wasn't until 1956 when the "Four Horsemen" (Baldwin, Cantey, Maisel, McDermott) published the first mathematically supported blackjack strategy that it became widely known. Later, mathematician Edward O. Thorp used early computers to prove that tracking cards could offer a significant advantage. His book Beat the Dealer (1962) popularized card counting. More advanced systems emerged later, but simpler methods were preferred for their ease of play (Wikipedia contributors, 2024).


Terminology

Before you get started, you need to know some common terms:

  • Hit: Take another card.
  • Stand: Take no more cards.
  • Double Down: Double the bet and take one more card.
  • Split: Separate a pair of identical cards, forming two new hands.
  • Surrender: Forfeit half the bet and end the hand immediately.
  • Insurance: Don’t take it.

At the table, you express these using hand signals to the dealer.


Step-by-Step Memorization

For each group, once you have learned the material sufficiently, you should put it into practice by playing one of the training games recommended in this article:

  • Splitting Flashcards: Start by learning when to split pairs. Use flashcards to memorize the rules and practice with a blackjack trainer set to show splits only.
  • Soft Total Flashcards: Next, move on to hands that include an ace. Use flashcards to learn the optimal plays for soft totals (A,2 to A,9) against each dealer upcard. Practice with a trainer set to soft totals.
  • Hard Total Flashcards: Finally, tackle hands without aces. Use flashcards to memorize the best plays for each hard total (8-17) against every dealer upcard and practice with a trainer focusing only on hard totals.
  • Addition Flashcards: Drill basic blackjack addition to help make quicker decisions during play.

Training Games

There are many free-to-play training games online that offer single modes (e.g., pair splitting) and full random study mode with all possible scenarios to simulate real-game conditions:

For on-the-go practice, try these mobile training games:


Conclusion

By breaking down the basic strategy into manageable parts and practicing with targeted flashcards, you can systematically memorize the optimal plays. This methodical approach, combined with practical training sessions, will significantly improve your blackjack game. Happy playing, and may the cards be in your favor!


Additional Resources

Blackjack Apprentice and Wizard of Odds both offers material, communities, and training tools to enhance your learning process. Check out their in-depth content for more insights:


References