Blackjack Strategy

When playing any type of game, you are definitely ‘on it to win it’. This is true as well when it comes to playing the game of blackjack. Before attempting to sit on the table or open the game client, you should have that mindset and commitment to win and beat the house edge. But how do you win in the game that requires a bit of skill and an element of chance? How do you lower the house edge to your advantage?

To make it happen, it’s best that you are aware of the basic blackjack strategies and learn how to use a strategy at the right moment, in appropriate situations. Listed below are some of the popular blackjack strategies played by most enthusiasts, and sample situations where you can pull it off.

Surrender Strategy

There are some moves or strategies that are used in the game of blackjack, but there’s one that gets the most divided talks- surrender. Well, it’s understandable why many players are critical about this strategy. For a start, the name of the strategy is questionable and negative. Imagine, you are asked to surrender your hand.

For many blackjack players, this move is unthinkable because the main object when participating in a game is to win and beat the house. This option (or strategy) may have some negative connotation but keep in mind that it actually makes sense in special situations and if played right. So how does the surrender option in blackjack works? Here’s a sample situation that describes a surrender:

After considering the value of the hand and the up-card of the casino dealer, you realized that you have a small chance of winning. The brightest option is to forfeit the hand which requires the surrender of half the wager made. There are two ways on how you will communicate your decision:

  • In traditional brick-and-mortar casinos, you may need to verbally announce to the casino dealer that you want to take advantage of this offer
  • In other casinos, the use of hand signals may be required to show intent to use the surrender feature

Whatever option is selected by the player, it’s the job of the dealer to remove half of the wager and remove the two cards on the table and place these placed in the discard tray. In short, when you take advantage of the surrender option, you give up the right to play the hand, and you automatically lose half your wager.

Now, there are two ways on how you can play your surrender in the game of blackjack- you can opt for the early surrender and the late surrender.

How to play the early surrender in blackjack

This is a popular offer in many casinos operating in Asia and Europe. As the name suggests, this option is enjoyed much earlier even before the dealer has checked his hand for a possible blackjack. Given a chance, players should consider the early surrender as this is more favourable and gives players a better chance of winning.

If you choose an early surrender against an Ace, your chance increase by 0.39 per cent, and surrender against a 10, it’s 0.24 per cent, boosting it to 0.63 per cent when playing with a six-deck s17 blackjack game.

In case an early surrender is offered in the table, the following hands should be surrendered:

  • If it's against an Ace, surrender hard 5 to 7 plus 3s, and 12 to 17, including 6s to 8s
  • Against the dealer’s 9, surrender hard 10 to 6, but skip 8s
  • Against the dealer’s 10, surrender hard 14 to 16, include 7s and 8s

How to play late surrender in blackjack

In the late surrender, you will be able to enjoy this option if the dealer has already checked his card for blackjack. If the dealer’s hand is already a blackjack, then this option is no longer made available, and the player will lose the bet unless it’s a blackjack as well. If you decide to use this option, the house edge is reduced by 0.07 per cent when playing multi-deck games.

What a surrender means in the game

Taking the surrender option has a lot of benefits on top of the reduction of the house edge. If you take advantage of this offer, you get a chance to stabilize your bankroll, and you may limit your losses on the table.

Some will say that surrender is a fool’s move when it comes to playing in the blackjack table. These are baseless notions; if you think that it’s the right move to play, then choose a surrender to protect your bankroll.

Pair Splitting Strategy in Blackjack

This is one strategy that is not properly understood and analyzed by many players. Some players do not take advantage of this offer, and for others, they split their hands with no reason or benefit for it. This should not be the case because the strategy of splitting is designed for players who also want to reduce the house edge.

What are the casino rules for splitting a pair?

The rules for splitting are easy to understand. If you are given two cards of the same value, you have the option to separate these into two hands. For example, if you bet $6 and you get a pair of 3s, then your single hand has a total of 6. Under the casino rules, you can play the hand as 6 and get extra cards, or you can split the 3s into two hands.

If you want to activate this option, you simply put another equal bet next to the original bet in the layout. This means that you need to place another $6 beside the original wager, and not on top of it. This serves as a signal for the dealer that you want to split the 3s, and you want to play 2 hands. In basic blackjack rules, you will need to play first the hand to your right.

How to play pair splitting

Before you take advantage of pair splitting, you should know first the number of cards used and the existing game rules. After getting all these details, then you can consider the following suggestions before attempting to split:

  • When playing in a single-deck with NDAS, you have 3-3, and the dealer’s up-card is 7.
  • When playing in a double-deck game with DAS, you have 4-4, and the dealer’s up-card is 5.
  • When playing in a six-deck with DAS, you have a9-9, and the dealer’s up-card is 5.
  • Do not split if playing with a double-deck game with NDAS holding 4-4 and the up-card is 5.

Why does splitting work for many players?

There are some reasons why splitting can work for you:

  • With splitting, you can win more on average using a bold strategy, or
  • Lose less money on average using the defensive strategy, or
  • You can easily turn a losing hand into a winning one using an offensive strategy

Below are a brief description and differences between the bold, offensive and defensive blackjack strategies.

Bold Blackjack Strategy

In this strategy, you are already in the position to win, and when you decide to split, you will win more money.

Defensive Blackjack Strategy

This requires betting more on the table to cut losses. This may seem like a complex approach to splitting, but it makes sense in the long run. The rationale behind this move is that even though you will lose money over a long time when you split defensively, you will lose more if you don’t split.

Offensive Blackjack Splitting Strategy

This is the most recommended strategy when it comes to splitting since you have a chance to turn a losing hand into a winning position.

As a general rule, splitting in the game of blackjack is one form of strategy that can allow you to turn a losing position into a winning one. Keep in mind that in splitting, you can earn more money in most splits, but may end up with less on other splitting decisions. This is a critical strategy that every player should be aware of before they attempt to play for real money, or before they play against experienced players.

Doubling Down in Blackjack

Did you know that when playing blackjack, you can only stand to win roughly 47 per cent (not including the ties) of all the hands given to you? Now, if you do the math, it only means that in the long haul, you are at the losing end of the game. But there’s a way out of this predicament, and that’s through the use of a doubling down strategy in blackjack.

How the double down strategy works

In the double down strategy, the player is given a chance to double the bet in exchange for a stand after getting one more card. The extra bet is placed in the box next to the original bet. When playing in brick and mortar casinos, you may need to put the extra chips beside the original bet just outside the betting box, and pointing to it with one finger.

What are the rules of the casino when completing a double down

When the casino dealer allows you to double down, it only means that you can double the bet in exchange for another card. In most casinos, the dealer will allow players to double down on any two-card combination, but some casinos may restrict this option to specific hands. You can get the best deals if you can play in a casino that allows you to double down on any pairs.

Wherever you play, you need to remember that there are two variables that should be in play when considering this strategy. First, you need to consider the total value of your hand and the dealer’s up-card. Whenever possible, you need to double down if you are holding a hard 8, 9, 10, or 11, or you own a soft 13 (A-2) through 18 (A-7).

You need to consider a defensive approach when playing blackjack because you need to assume that the dealer’s hand will consistently beat your hands. The idea behind doubling down is to adopt an offensive strategy at the right time when the casino dealer has a big chance of busting or you have an edge over the dealer’s hand.

Doubling on soft hands has its benefits, but many players often do not understand these. When doubling down on soft hands, the intent is not to outdraw the casino dealer, but to earn money.

Double down on at least 3 cards

There are some casinos that allow players to double down three or more cards. For example, you have a 5-3 and get a 3 for a value of 11; you can still double down after drawing the third card. If this is made available to you at the table, you can gain 0.2 per cent.

Double down for less

The main idea with double down is that you double the initial wager made. But there are some casinos that allow you to double down at a lesser amount. This means that if your original bet is $20, you can double down with less than this amount. While this is allowed, keep in mind that experienced players do not recommend this step. The problem with doubling down for less is that it will not allow you to maximize your gains.

If you are serious about blackjack, then it’s important that you understand the concept of doubling down. If used the right way, a doubling down strategy can help you reduce the casino edge and win more money.

Pros and cons of doubling down

The double down strategy allows you to place an extra wager if your hands have a good chance of winning. To pull off this kind of strategy, you need to double your bet, which means that you will risk more given the information in front of you. There’s also a chance to double down on a split pair, provided that the casino allows it.

For example, if you have a 10-10 and the dealer shows 3,4,5 or 6, then you can split the 10s, double down on both hands and hope that you will get a 21 on both.

The problem with doubling down is that you will face some risks. Keep in mind that the dealer still has the edge and it has more information about the hand. This is the reason why the casino always maintains that edge over players. And if the hands are tied, the player can only count on a return of the stake.

Hit and Stand Strategy When Playing Blackjack

When playing blackjack, the last decision that you will ultimately consider is whether you should hit or stand. This is that part of the game that challenges many players and often leads to losses when executed the wrong way.

If you are new to this card game, then it’s important that you know the basic casino rules when it comes to hitting and standing. Here are some of the rules related to hitting and standing to keep in mind:

  • When you decide to hit, it means you will draw another card
  • If you stand, it means that you are satisfied with the value of the hand
  • You are allowed to stand or hit on any card with a value of 21 or less
  • It is your job to signal to the dealer if you want to hit or draw using signals agreed by the body
  • There are appropriate signals to use when are the cards are dealt face up or face down
  • If you decide to take a hit and the value of the hand exceeds 21, your hand is busted, and you lose your bet
  • The moment you order a stand, it will complete your hand for that round

What should you know about hard hands?

When playing blackjack, the worst hand values that you can form are the hard 12 through 17. This is because you will lose more hands than win in the long haul. The only exception is when playing in an S17 game with at least two decks when a 17 against a 6 is a winner. In short, all these hand values are expected to lose. To put it in perspective, it’s expected that you will lose 4 hands in every 10 hands.

With this obstacle in mind, how does a blackjack player win and become confident when playing the game? Since there is no way that you can change the cards, what you can do instead is to follow the basic strategies when it comes to hard and soft hands.

Insurance and Even Money Strategy for Blackjack

As a player, you should also need to learn more about the insurance or even money strategy. These side bets introduced in the game to protect players against the dealer’s blackjack. The decision to bet on the insurance or even money should be made before you will act to surrender, split, hit or stand.

What are the basic rules when playing insurance?

As soon as the dealer announces an Ace up card, he will ask the players if they want to make an insurance bet. This is optional and is separate bet in which you will bet that the hole card of the casino dealer is a 10 or picture card.

As part of practice, the amount of bet that you can make on the insurance is half of the original bet placed. If after the insurance bet it was found out that the dealer has a 10 or picture card, it means that:

  • Your insurance bet will earn 2 to 1 odds, or you win the amount equal to the original bet made

But if the dealer announces that it’s not a 10 or picture card, then:

  • You lose your insurance bet, and play resumes.

What are the basic rules when playing for even money?

Even money comes into place if the dealer shows an Ace for an up-card and the player has a blackjack. If this is the case, the casino dealer will then ask if you will take an ‘even money’.

If you agree, the dealer will pay even money on the wager made, and the cards will be removed from play. This means that the dealer will pay you first even before he will take a peek at the cards. In short, the even-money arrangement is similar to making an insurance bet if you have a blackjack.

Takeaway Points
  • Although blackjack is widely popular, many players and enthusiasts are known to misplay the hands
  • To ensure that players will have a better chance of reducing the house edge and winning, it’s important they should have a strategy in mind
  • If players want to reduce the casino edge to less than 1 per cent, then it’s important that they learn a few strategies related to surrender, doubling down, splitting, and standing and hitting
  • There are two kinds of surrender that can be used in blackjack- the early and late surrender
  • You are allowed to split the hand if you receive identical values, say two 4s or two 5s
  • In doubling down, players are given a chance to double their wager
  • An insurance bet can be made if the dealer shows an Ace, and the amount of wager is half of the original wager