Blackjack strategy

BLACKJACK BASICS

You can use strategy in blackjack to your advantage but first you need to understand the basics of the game. When you play the game, you will have have table mates at your table but you need to understand that the goal of the game is not to beat the players at the table but to beat the house, or the dealer. Because all players at the table have the same goal, it is possible for more than one person to win in one round.

The game is often referred to as ’21’ because the main goal is to get a value that is closest to 21 and nothing over. So, ideally you want a natural 21, which means that your cards are not over or under this value. If you get under 21, you want the value of your cards to be as close to 21 as possible. If it’s closer to 21 than the dealer’s cards, you win. The hands of the table mates are irrelevant because you are playing against the dealer only.

Every card in a deck has a value. If your card is a 4 of spades, it will count as a 4. The face cards count 10 and the ace can be either 1 or 11, you decide. The suit of the card is irrelevant.

LET THE GAME BEGIN

The minimum and maximum bets are clearly visible at a blackjack table. Players will need to place bets before the dealer deals. Once the bets have been placed, the dealer will deal in a clockwise rotation. The last card dealt will be for the dealer.

The cards that is dealt in the first round is face-up. The dealer will then deal the second rounds, face-down. The face-up cards should not be touched. Should the table have one deck, the cards will generally be dealt face-down and if this is the scenario, you will be able to touch your cards.

So, if your first two cards are a 10 or face card and a ace, you have a natural 21, also referred to as ‘blackjack’. If the dealer does not have a ‘blackjack’, you win and receive 1.5 times the amount of your bet. Should you both have natural 21’s, it is a tie and you keep your bet. If only the dealer has a 21, he will win and you will lose the amount you wagered.

The game begins with the person on the left of the dealer. When it is your turn, you will need to decide whether you would like to ‘stand’ or ‘hit’.

  • Stand – not asking for another card
  • Hit – ask for another card (to get the value of your cards as close to 21 as possible)

If you choose to ‘hit’, you will be dealt one card at a time until you are satisfied with the value of your hand. Should you go over 21, you hand goes ‘bust’ and you lose.

The ace is a great card because you will have the choice of whether it should be treated as a 11 or a 1. So, if you have a ace, and hit and your hand’s value is over 21, you can simply decide to make the ace a 1 and not a 11.

It depends on where you are playing but generally hand signals are used to indicate what you want to do. This is because the hand signals can be viewed on security cameras which will avoid possible disputes.

  • Hit:

Scratch the table with one or two fingers. Or, you can wave you hand in the air as if you are telling someone to come to you.

  • Stand

Wave your hand from side to side, not far above the table.

SPLITTING AND DOUBLING DOWN

  • Splitting Pairs:

If you are dealt with two of the exact same cards, you can split them to make two separate hands. You will then need to bet the same amount that you bet on your first hand, on your second hand.

  • Doubling Up:

Should your first two cards add up to 9, 10 or 11, you can double the amount of your bet by ‘doubling down’. One card will be dealt face down and will only be turned over after all other bets are settled.

BLACKJACK STRATEGY

The great thing about blackjack is that if you follow a few simple rules, you can make your chances of winning much higher. It doesn’t matter if you are new to the game or if you’ve played for decades, the basic strategy remains the same.

  • If the dealer’s up-card is 7, 8, 9, 10, K, Q, J, A:

Keep hitting until the value of your hand is 17.

  • If the dealer’s up-card is 4, 5, 6:

Keep hitting until you have the value of 12.

  • If the dealer’s up-card is 2, 3:

Hit until your hand is worth 13.

  • If you have a soft hand (for example a ace and a 4):

Keep hitting until you get to 18, maybe more.

  • Double down when:

– Should your first two card have the value of 11, you should double down.

– If you card value is 10 and the dealer’s up-card is a ace, face or 10.

– If your first two cards have a value of 9 and the dealer’s up-card is 2 – 6.

  • Split when:

– If you have a pair of either 8’s, or ace’s.

– If you have a pair of 2’s, 3,’s, 7’s (but don’t split if the dealer shows 8, 9, 10, ace or face cards).

– Split 6’s if the dealer’s up-card is 2 – 6.

– Never split if you have a pic of 4’s, 5’s or 10’s.


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