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How to Memorize Blackjack Basic Strategy the Easy Way

How to Memorize Blackjack Basic Strategy

Most people know that in order to increase their chances of winning at blackjack, they need to learn and memorize basic strategy. However, many find it difficult to remember all of the different rules, which can lead to costly mistakes.

I remember when I first learned to play blackjack online back in 2001 and was presented with the basic strategy tables.

At first, they seemed complicated, and I was spending a long time looking up the correct actions for every hand I played. But after a few hundred hands I felt a lot more comfortable, and after the first thousand they became second nature and I found I knew most of the rules off by heart.

Still, looking back now, I do feel I could have learned quicker – and now I want to help you do exactly that.

In this article, I will provide some tips on how to easily and effectively memorize blackjack basic strategy in the fastest possible way.

A Recap on Basic Strategy

To quickly refresh your memory, basic strategy is simply a set of rules that tell you the optimal way to play blackjack based on your hand and the dealer’s upcard.

It takes into account all possible combinations of hands and dealer upcards, and provides guidance on what action to take in each situation.

If you find it easier to memorize blackjack basic strategy using written instructions as opposed to strategy charts, then this recap should help. Here we are assuming a single-deck game where the dealer stands on all 17s.

Hard Hands

  • If your hand has a value of between 17 and 21, stand.
  • If your hand has a value of between 13 and 16, hit against 7 or better, else stand.
  • If your hand has a value of 12, stand against 4,5, or 6, else hit.
  • Always double down on 11.
  • Double down on 10 against all upcards between 2 and 9, else hit.
  • Double down on 9 against 3 to 6, else hit.
  • Hit on any total of 8 or less, regardless of dealer upcard.

Soft Hands

If your hand has an Ace and is worth:

  • 20 or 21 – stand.
  • 19 – double down against a 6, else stand
  • 18 – double down against a 2 to 6, else stand
  • 17 – double down against a 3 to 6, else hit
  • 15 or 16 – double down against a 4 to 6, else hit
  • 13 or 14 – double down against a 5 or 6, else hit


  • Always split Aces and 8s
  • Never split 5s or 10s
  • Split 9s against everything except 7, 10, and Ace
  • Split 7s against 2-7
  • Split 6s against 3-6
  • Split 3s against 4-7
  • Split 2s against 3-7

These basic strategy rules will get you most of the way toward playing the perfect blackjack game. But there’s still a lot to remember, and unless you have a photographic memory, you’re not likely to be able to memorize all of that straight away.

However, there are some techniques that will help you to do it faster.

Practice Online with Your Strategy Chart

When it comes to memorizing any new technique or system, practice always makes perfect. The best way to get comfortable with basic strategy is to practice it in a low-pressure environment, like online. Or play on your mobile so you can take the game with you wherever you go.

The advantage of playing online blackjack is that there is no time limit. The game simply waits as long as it takes for you to decide what to do. So if you need to refer to your strategy chart while you learn, there’s plenty of time for you to do so.

That way, you can take your time and make sure you’re correctly applying the strategy before heading to a real-world casino.

If you want to practice without using real money, there are plenty of free blackjack games online that will allow you to play with a basic strategy chart open. That way, you can quickly reference the chart if you’re unsure of what to do in a particular situation. Or better still, try to remember the right move, and then double-check the chart to see if you were right.

After a while, you’ll start to get the hang of it and won’t need to refer to the chart as often. Then eventually, with enough practice, you’ll be able to commit basic strategy to memory.

Use a Memory Palace

One popular technique for memorizing information is called a memory palace. This involves creating a mental image of a place you know well, like your home, and placing items representing different pieces of information throughout that space.

To use this technique for memorizing basic strategy, imagine walking through your house and encountering various objects along the way. For each object, associate it with a different rule from basic strategy. For example, you might imagine opening your fridge and seeing a big red AA on the door. This would represent the rule of always splitting Aces.

This might sound far-fetched at first, but give it a try and keep an open mind. This technique originated from the ancient Greeks and is still taught by scientists today for one reason – it does work!

Over time, with enough practice, you’ll be able to walk through your memory palace and quickly recall all of the basic strategy rules.

Make a Mnemonic Device

Another popular technique for memorizing information is to create a mnemonic device. This is basically a phrase or sentence that’s easy to remember and that contains all of the information you want to recall.

To use this technique for memorizing basic strategy, you could come up with an acronym such as ADE to help you remember that you should Always Double Eleven.

There are different mnemonics you can use, so find something that works for you and that you can remember easily. This masterclass should help.

Logic: Assume the Next Card will be a Ten

One of the best ways to quickly memorize basic strategy is to assume that every card you can’t see is a ten. This will help you make the correct decision in most situations, since tens are by far the most common cards in a blackjack deck.

Of course, this isn’t always going to be the case. But by assuming that the next card will be a ten, you’ll usually be making the correct decision.

Over time, as you become more familiar with basic strategy, you can start to relax this rule because you’re more likely to remember the specific moves for every combination of cards. But when you first start out, applying this logic will ensure you make the correct move around 80% of the time, which isn’t a bad starting point.

Learn the Rules for Hard Hands First

When you’re first learning basic strategy, it’s generally best to start by memorizing the rules for hard hands (make sure you know the difference between hard and soft hands first). These are hands that do not contain an ace, or if they do contain an ace, it can only be counted as one.

The simple reason is that hard hands are more common. You’re going to get more of them, so it makes sense to get those rules nailed down first.

As you can see in the overview above, there are seven main rules for hard hands, but they’re generally not too difficult to memorize. Once you have the hard-hand rules down, you can start working on memorizing the rules for soft hands and splitting pairs.

Concentrate on One Ruleset at a Time

A common rookie mistake is to try to memorize basic strategy variations for all different blackjack rules at the same time. This inevitably leads to confusion and failure.

When you’re first starting out, it’s generally best to focus on memorizing one ruleset at a time. For example, you might want to start by memorizing the basic strategy rules for blackjack games with eight decks, where the dealer stands on soft 17.

Once you have those down, you can move on to memorizing the basic strategy rules for blackjack games with six decks. And so on.

By focusing on one ruleset at a time, you’ll find it easier to commit the information to memory. Then, once you have all of the basic strategy rules memorized, you can start practicing using them in real-life blackjack situations.

Last Updated on October 9, 2022

David Graham
Posted in Strategy

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