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Definition of Basic Strategy

The basic strategy is the strategy which maximizes the player's average gain, or expectation, playing one hand against a complete pack of cards. Thus, with a given number of decks and fixed set of rules there can be only one "basic strategy," although there may be several (slightly erroneous) versions of it. it is even conceivable, if not probable, that nobody, experts included, knows precisely what the basic strategy is, if we pursue the definition to include instructions on how to play the second and subsequent cards of a split depending on what cards ire used on the earlier parts. For example, suppose we split eights against the dealer's ten, busting the first hand (8,7,7) and reaching (8,2,2,2) on the second. Quickly now, do we hit or do we stand with the 14? (You will be able to find ansirs to such questions after you have mastered page Six.)

The basic strategy, then, constitutes a complete set of decision rules covering all possible choices the player may encounter, but without any reference to any other players' cards or any cards used on a previous round before the deck is reshuffled. These choices are: to split or not to split, to double down or not to double down, and to stand or to draw another card. Some of them seem self evident, such as always drawing another card to a total of six, never drawing to tinty, and not splitting a pair of fives. But what procedure must be used to assess the correct action in more marginal cases? [A]

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