Playing the basic strategy allows you to reduce the casino's edge to a minimum (0.44%). It looks like a lot to memorize but it makes sense if you realize that the dealer is most likely to bust when his upcard is a four, five or six and very likely to bust when his upcard is a two or three. As you lie in bed at night, use all your memorization tricks to go over and over this strategy until you fall asleep. Even if you play online and keep a cheat-sheet in front of you, it will help a lot if you have the strategy memorized so you don't have to think whether to hit, stand, or double - it becomes automatic.&nbsp; Divide the hands you are dealt into three categories: Hard Hands (Neither of your first two cards is an ace)

Your two cards total seventeen to twenty - stand regardless of dealer's upcard You have thirteen to sixteen - stand if dealer shows two to six; hit if dealer shows seven to ace You have twelve - stand if the dealer shows four, five or six; otherwise hit Eleven - double if dealer shows two to ten; hit if he shows an ace Ten - double if dealer shows two to nine; hit if he shows a ten-value card or ace Nine - double if dealer shows three to six; otherwise hit Five to eight - hit Soft Hands (One of your first two cards is an ace)

You have ace-eight or ace-nine - stand regardless of dealer's upcard Ace-seven - stand if dealer shows two, seven or eight; double if dealer shows three to six; otherwise hit Ace-six - double dealer's three to six; otherwise hit Ace-four or ace-five - double if dealer shows four, five or six; otherwise hit Ace-two or ace-three - double if dealer shows five or six; otherwise hit Pairs (Two like cards)

Aces and eights - always split Tens - always stand&nbsp; Nines - split to dealer six, split on dealer's eight or nine, stand on dealer's seven, ten-value card, or ace Seven -&nbsp; split to dealer seven; otherwise hit Sixes - split to dealer six; hit if dealer shows seven through ace

Fives - double to dealer's nine; hit on dealer's ten-value card or ace Fours - split if the dealer shows a five or six; otherwise hit Twos and threes- -split to dealer seven; otherwise hit

The basic strategy above applies where more than two decks are used and where the dealer must stand on soft seventeen (typically outside Las Vegas). Most Las Vegas casinos have the dealer hit on soft seventeen and this requires a slight modification in the basic strategy. If you play online or at a land-based casino check the casino's rules and adjust accordingly.&nbsp; The hit on soft seventeen adjustment is:&nbsp;Double on eleven looking at dealer's ace, double on ace-seven against a dealer's two, and double on ace-eight against a six.&nbsp; Playing the basic strategy combined with card counting could make you a consistent winner. Click here to read more about blackjack.

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