Basic Strategy Play

Since the essential features of basic strategy were developed, a number of refinements have given us the current optimal set of principles for standing, hitting, doubling, splitting, and surrendering. These, along with the other more sophisticated forms of play were worked out by using Monte Carlo techniques based on the analysis of literally billions of hands. If I tell you that you should hit a total of 16 against a dealer’s 7, there is no specific mathematical proof behind this recommendation. It emerged from an analysis of the several million times this situation emerged in the Monte Carlo analysis of the game. Hitting a 16 against a 7 loses less often than standing. Sure, following this advice produces a bust on a lot of these hands, but analysis shows, utterly compellingly, that if you don’t hit his hand you are more likely to get beat by a higher total — like 17.
When possible, I will give a logical analysis of particular aspects of basic strategy, but there are going to be situations where the reader is just going to have to accept the outcomes of the Monte Carlo analysis. The following description of basic strategy is based on the multi-deck game found in several Atlantic City and Las Vegas casinos, where the dealer stands on a soft seventeen, pairs may be re-split once, doubling down is permitted after a split, and the player may double down on any two cards. Other games require some minor adjustments that I’ll note where appropriate. However, you should never give up an edge against the casino. I highly recommend playing only where the rules are more favorable to the player.

Comments are closed