There is no one "best way" to practice blackjack. You can use lots of different methods to improve your understanding of basic blackjack strategy. A good blackjack tutorial is to look at specific hands and try to determine the best play. You can do this at home, dealing one card up and one card down to the "dealer," then dealing yourself two up cards. If you keep a blackjack strategy chart handy in the beginning, this is a great primer for success at blackjack.
Here are three hands that demonstrate important concepts of blackjack strategy. For each hand, we'll cover the possible outcomes for all the possible moves.
Dealer's Up Card: 8
Your Hand: 7 and 4
Hit-With a dealer up card this high, hitting is a decent strategy, though not the best. After all, the dealer's worst-case scenario is either a 9 or another low card, since there's no card high enough to bust him. A 9 would give him a total of 17, a dangerous prospect for the dealer, but one you don't have to worry about with your point total of 11.
Surrender-There's absolutely no reason to surrender with a point total of 11 against a dealer 8.
Stand-Again, it makes no sense to stand with such a low total. 11 points is "unbustable" because there's no card you can draw that would push you over 21.
Double Down-The best choice for this hand is to double down. Since the dealer will make a point total of 19 or higher only about 25% of the time with an 8 up and your chance of reaching 19 or above with these cards is closer to 50%, doubling down is the correct strategy here. The clear advantage you have to hit here means you should always risk the extra cash and double down. Beating the casino over the course of a gaming session means taking risks when you have the advantage.
Dealer's Up Card: J
Your Hand: 10 and 6
Hit-With a point total of 16, your bust probability is over 60%. That means if you take a hit with this hand 10 times, you'll bust at least 6. The dealer's bust probability with 10 points up is about 20%. Since the dealer has the clear advantage, taking a hit with this hand is a sucker bet. The only time when you should hit this hand is when the surrender option isn't available. If you can't surrender, a hit is the next best strategy.
Surrender-Even though surrendering with this hand will cost you half of your initial bet, the odds are stacked against you and sometimes it is best to take a short loss to protect against a larger one. Most of the time, playing this hand out will lead to a loss, so surrender and live to fight another day.
Stand-Standing on 16 against a dealer's ten points up is fool-hardy. The dealer will only bust out with this up card 20% of the time, making the stand option a long shot.
Double Down-Doubling down in this situation is a great way to lose even more money. Blackjack odds say that you are about three times as likely to bust as the dealer with these cards showing, so do not double down this hand.
Dealer's Up Card: 7
Your Hand: 4 and 4
Hit-If you said "hit", you're right. Some gamblers have a tendency to split all pairs in blackjack, but this is a fool's errand. A dealer with a 7 up will bust or hit 17 more than 60% of the time, putting the odds greatly in your favor as long as you take a hit. You have about a 40% chance of drawing a card worth ten points, giving you a comfortable 1 point lead over a dealer 17.
Split-Splitting fours only makes sense against a dealer 5 or 6. That's because the dealer's likelihood of busting is highest with a 5 or a 6 up card. Why? The dealer stands at 17, so if the dealer's 6 is matched with a card worth 10 points, he will have to hit again, and hitting on a 15 or 16 is an almost instant bust. Don't split fours against a 7.
Stand-8 is not a high enough point total to stand against a 7 because of the likelihood that the dealer has to draw a 10 point card.
Double Down-Doubling down with a point total of 8 doesn't make sense. The best outcome for your double is a 10 point card, but the dealer will most likely have to hit in the middle teens, increasing the likelihood of beating you.