Winning Blackjack Strategy
Winning Blackjack Strategy Guide 2021
Blackjack is one of the most widely played casino games, at both land-based and online casinos the world over. The game requires players to compare their hand with that of the dealer. It is typically played with one or more decks (French), each comprising 52 cards as usual.
At the outset of the game, the player is dealt two cards. He is given the option of drawing more cards to make the total value of his hand 21 or less. The player must ensure that when he draws additional cards, his hand does not exceed 21 as it can make him go bust, or lose.
When the player’s hand, with a total value of 21 or just below, is better than that of the dealer, the player wins. On the other hand, when the dealer’s hand is better, the player goes bust.
In addition to deciding which hand is better – the player’s or the dealer’s – and betting on it, you will have to determine whether or not you want more cards, to raise the value of your hand. There are four decisions you can take – hit, stand, double down and split.
If you want another card to be dealt, you can hit. On the other hand, if you don’t want more cards, you can stand. You can double down if you want another card and are willing to double the initial bet.
You have the option of splitting a hand when the first two cards are dealt to you. This can be done only when you have a pair. Each of these decisions is dependent on the blackjack variant that an online or land-based casino offers you. Some casinos provide players with the option of surrendering.
If provided, it can only be used as the first decision of a newly dealt hand. When you surrender, you will be giving half your bet to the casino and ending your interest in that hand.
Your decisions to stand, hit, split, double down and surrender should be based on the basic strategy for poker. Before you determine a particular course of action, you will have to take into consideration both – your hand and the dealer’s up-card.
How to Play Hard Hands
Hard hands don’t have an ace, nor do they include pairs. When you have hard hands, you should stand in these situations:
• You have a hard total between 17 and 20, and the dealer has an up-card from 2 to ace.
• You have a hard total of 16, 15 14 and 13, and the dealer has from 2 to 6.
• Your hard total is 12, and the dealer’s up-card is a 4, 5 or 6.
You should hit in these situations:
• The dealer’s up-card is either 7 or 8 and your hard total is 16.
• The dealer has an up-card with 7, 8, 9 or an ace and you have 15.
• You have a hard total of 12, 13 or 14, and the dealer has an up-card from 7 to ace.
• You have a 12, and the dealer has a 2 or 3.
• Your hard total is 11, while the dealer has got an ace.
• Your hard total is 10, and the dealer has a 10, or ace up-card.
• You have 5, 6, 7 or 8 and the dealer has an up-card from two to ace.
It is a wise decision to surrender if you have a hard total of:
• 16 and the dealer has an up-card with a 9, 10 or ace.
• 15 and the dealer’s up-card is 10.
You should ideally double in these situations, but if you are not allowed to, then you should hit:
• Your hard total is 11, and the dealer’s up-card is between 2 and 10.
• Your hard total is 10 and the dealer has an up-card between 2 and 9.
• Your hard hand total is 9 and the dealer’s up-card ranges 3, 4, 5 or 6.
How to Play Soft Hands
A soft hand has an ace and offers two possible values – 01 and 11, which reduces the house edge. However, for this, it has to be played using optimal strategy.
You should stand if you have:
• An ace and 8, or ace and 9 and the dealer has cards between 2 and ace.
• An ace and 7, and the dealer has 2, 7 or 8.
You should ideally double if you have:
• An ace and 7, or ace and 6 and the dealer’s up-card is 3, 4, 5 or 6. If you are not allowed to double, you should stand.
• An ace and 5, or ace and 4 and the dealer’s up-card is 4, 5 or 6. If not, you should hit.
• An ace and 3, or ace and 2 and the dealer has 5 or 6 as an up-card. If not, you should hit.
You should hit if you have:
• An ace and 6 and the dealer has a 2, 7, 8, 9 or 10.
• An ace and 5, or an ace and 4, and the dealer’s up-card is 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, 10 or ace.
• An ace and 3, or an ace and 2, and the dealer has 2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10 or ace.
How to Play Pairs
When you have pairs in blackjack, it is often best to split the hand. Here are some actions that you can take when you have a pair:
You should split the hand when you have a pair of:
• Aces and 8s and the dealer’s up-card is from 2 to ace.
• 9s and the dealer’s up-card is from 2 to 10
• 7s, 3s or 2s and the dealer’s up-card is from 2 to 7.
• 6s and the dealer’s up-card is 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6.
• 4s and the dealer has either a 5 or 6 as an up-card.
You should stand when you have a pair of:
• 10s and the dealer has any card from 2 to 10.
• 9s and the dealer has a 7, 10 or ace.
You should hit when you have a pair of:
• 7s and the dealer has 8, 9, 10 or ace.
• 6s and the dealer holds a 7, 8, 9, 10 or ace.
• 5s and the dealer has 10 or ace.
• 4s and the dealer has 2, 3, 4 7, 8, 9, 10 or ace.
• 2s or 3s and the dealer holds an 8, 9, 0 or ace.
You should ideally double with a pair of 5s if the dealer has an up-card from 2 to 9. If you are not allowed to do this, you should hit.
Composition Based Strategy
In addition to the basic strategy, players can use composition based strategy to maximize their chances of winning. For this, they will have to take into consideration the exact combination of cards in their hand. For instance, if you have a hand with 10 and 3, and the dealer has 5, you should re-consider the basic strategy.
This means that instead of standing with this hand, you should hit – because the 10 makes the hand quite weak to stand on. When you hit with this, your hand is quite safe, and the probability of it going bust is quite low.
Games with Few Decks
Choose a game that uses a low number of decks – preferably just one. This is because the house advantage reduces when the number of decks used in the game decrease. For instance, a game with a single deck has a 0.17% house edge, while a game with six decks has a house edge of 0.64%.
The house edge on a game with two decks is 0.46%, with four decks is 0.60%, and with eight decks is 0.66%.
Opt for early surrender if the casino allows it. Typically, when a dealer gets an ace or ten as a first card, he checks the hole card to determine whether it can lead to a blackjack. A few casinos offer players the option of surrendering before the dealer does this.
As this offers players an edge, it is best to make use of it. One aspect to remember here is that you should opt for late surrender only when the probability of winning is less than one in four. This way, you will avoid giving up half the bet on every hand that may be weak, by surrendering.
It is possible that after you split a hand, the next card dealt makes a pair again. In such a situation, make use of the provision to re-split it, if it is given to you. To do this, you will have to make an additional wager, and the dealer will deal a new card.
Based on the rules of the casino you play at, you may be allowed to hit the split aces. This is advantageous to you, as the house edge reduces significantly when you do this.