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How to Memorise and Practise Blackjack Strategy

While Blackjack strategy charts are easy to follow and understand, they are not easy to memorise. Therefore, people may find that their play is significantly slowed as they continually refer back to the chart. Furthermore, with so many Blackjack variants, unless a person is only interested in one type of game, they will find themselves having to memorise numerous charts.  

Luckily, there are a few tricks to help you practise basic Blackjack strategy and a few tricks that will help you memorise the strategy charts.  

Create Flash Cards 

Just like studying for an exam at school, flash cards can be a hugely powerful tool. To start you will first need to buy a pack of cards. The next stage is to look up the strategy cart that corresponds to the game that you will be playing most often. On the first index card, you need to write your hand on one side, which would be the first line of the strategy table, and on the reverse, you write the correct basic strategy. For example with a Double Deck game with S17 and DAS, one side would have “5-8” while the other would have “Always Hit”. Repeat this for all the other rows in the table, and at the end of it you will have 29 flash cards to memorise.  

Very often just ten to fifteen minutes a day is enough to memorise the cards. You simply look at the side with your hand on it, say what you think the correct strategy is, and then turn the card over to check. If you make a mistake, put the card to one side and then when you have been through all of the cards, repeat the ones you made mistakes with. You will be surprised that in just a few days, you will find that you have them all memorised. If you can repeatedly go through the cards without making any mistakes, then it is time to move on to the next exercise.  

Write Out the Strategy Chart from Memory  

It is easy to find a strategy chart template online, listing just the player’s hands and the dealer’s up-card. Print out a few copies of it and then fill in the correct strategy for each hand from memory. You can then compare it to the original strategy chart and hopefully, you will find that there are no mistakes. Some people break this down and will practise different sections on different days, such as Hard Hands on one day, Soft Hands on the next, and Pairs on the third.  

Practise with a Deck of Cards 

Once you are able to reproduce the strategy chart with ease, it is time to start practising with real cards. Take a deck of cards and place a 2 face-up on the table. Then deal yourself two cards face up and from memory, decide what you should do according to the strategy chart. Check to make sure that you have got it right, and then repeat the process. You can keep doing this until you have been through the entire deck. Next, shuffle the deck, place a 3 face up on the table, and repeat the process from the beginning. You should do this for all of the possible dealer up cards, and hopefully, you will not make any mistakes.  

You can also adapt the exercise for soft hands and pairs. Simply place the soft hand or the pair on the table, and then go through the deck turning over one card at a time and treating it as the dealer’s up card. If you can make it through with no mistakes, then you can be pretty sure that you have a firm grasp of the strategy.  

Practise with a Computer or Smartphone 

There are many different apps and pieces of software around to help people practise Blackjack strategy. You can install it on your computer and mobile devices, so that you can practise whenever you have the time.  

For example, the software may show you random hands, and ask you to select what the correct decision is. It will remember any mistakes you make, so that it can help you refine your practise and focus on problem areas. Many apps also present you with blank strategy tables and quiz you on how they should be filled in. It will let you know when you make a mistake, and once again, help focus your practise.  

Using all of the above techniques, you should have no problem memorising basic Blackjack strategy. While it will take a little while to perfect it, it is not really a difficult process, just a repetitive one. Once you have memorised the strategy for one variant, you can of course move on to memorising different variants, but be careful, as it will become confusing. Also, remember that whether playing online or in a casino, you are always allowed to refer to a strategy chard.  

Tips for The Real World Environment 

It is all well and good using the above techniques to memorise the strategy at home, but in a real world environment, there is a chance that your mind will simply go blank. It has happened to all players, even the most professional of them, and if you do not have a strategy card to hand, it can leave you perplexed and your fellow players frustrated as they wait for you to make up your mind.  

However, there is a tried and tested process that will help you to remember the strategy, even in the midst of the excitement of casino play.  

First, you should consider the option to surrender. Surrender always takes priority over the other possible decisions, so it is the first thing you want to consider. You will most likely recall that you should only consider surrendering if the dealer’s up card is a 9, 10 or A. Therefore, the first thing you do is look at the dealer’s up card. If it is a 9, 10 or A, then you know that you have to take a careful look at your hand and take a moment to recall the basic strategy. If you shouldn’t surrender, then you move to the second stage.  

In the next stage, you consider whether or not to split. If you don’t have a pair then this is obvious, if you do have a pair, then it is time to recall the basic strategy. The next choice you face is whether or not you should double down. Again, there is a bit of a shortcut that you can consider. The key cards are the ones you are dealt and if you have a two card 8, 9, 10, 11 or a soft hand, then you know that the basic strategy chart may tell you to double.  

The final decision you face is whether or not you should hit or stand. Once again, it is time to recall the basic strategy, even if it takes you a moment or two to remember.  

The idea is to use this step by step process in order to calm your thinking and allow your knowledge of the basic strategy, which you will have spent time carefully committing to memory, to come through. This way, even if it takes you a moment or two and you get an impatient look from some of the other players, you have a far better chance of making the correct decision.  

For example, imagine you are dealt an Ace and 7, and the dealer is showing a 9. As mentioned, 9 is one of the cards that suggests you may need to surrender. However, you also know that you should never surrender a soft hand, which this most certainly is. That takes care of the first decision, the second, splitting, is even easier, as you do not have a pair. The next thing you need to consider is whether or not to double down. The strategy chart says no, so finally, you need to consider whether to hit or stand. The strategy says that you should hit, so you do.  

To Summarise 

Blackjack strategy charts can appear incredibly daunting when you are first faced with one. They hold a huge amount of information in a very small space, and the idea of memorising one may seem impossible. However, by approaching the task logically, systematically and calmly, and spending just a few minutes practising with flash cards every day, you will find that you can actually memorise a strategy chart in a relatively short amount of time.  

Once the hard work of memorising it is done, you will find that you can have a lot of fun practising with a pack of cards as well as with mobile apps and on the computer. Of course, the real fun will come when you start using the strategy in a real life situation and start reaping the rewards, whether online or offline. Just remember to stay calm, think surrender, split, double, then hit/stand, and you should have few problems recalling the strategy in a matter of seconds.