Blackjack Basic Strategy – How Knowing When to Hit and Stand Can Increase Your Odds of Winning

Written by CAI National Museum on August 31, 2023 in Gambling News with no comments.

Blackjack is a game that requires a mix of luck and skill. You should never play the game under the influence of alcohol or when tired. If you do, you could lose a lot of money.

Statistically, you should hit when your cards add up to 11. It is also smart to stand on hard 17 or higher.

Basic strategy

Blackjack basic strategy is a series of guidelines that may help players determine whether to request another card (Hit), stand with their initial two cards, or double their initial bet (Double down). These rules are based on mathematical probability and are generally agreed upon by blackjack professionals.

Some of these rules include avoiding side bets like insurance. While these bets can be fun to make, they will not provide you with a significant edge over the house. It’s best to stick to the basic strategy and avoid making changes based on your feelings. This will help you avoid unnecessary risk. The best way to memorize blackjack basic strategy is with flashcards.

Hit versus stand

Blackjack is a game of chance, but knowing when to hit and stand can increase your odds. This is because these two core decisions affect your long term bottom line in the game.

Generally, you should stand on hands of 17 and higher. However, this will depend on the dealer’s face-up card. If you have a soft 17 (Ace and 6), it is better to hit than to stand because it will reduce your risk of busting.

You should also hit if you have a total of 16. This will improve your chances of making a good hand. However, you must carefully weigh the odds and risks in each situation.

Double down

Doubling down in blackjack is a risky move, but one that can increase your chances of winning. When you double down, you double your initial wager and receive one additional card. Then it’s you versus the dealer to see who can get closest to 21.

You can signal your double down by pushing a stack of chips next to your initial bet. However, you should not put them on top of your initial bet, as this is considered tampering and will likely be penalized by the casino. There are a few different scenarios in which it makes sense to double down, but it’s crucial to know when to do so.

Splitting pairs

One of the biggest blackjack play decisions that can make or break a player’s advantage is pair splitting. This simple move can yield huge profits if done correctly, but it requires players to acquaint themselves with the exact rules of any game they play. For example, in a game with DAS, you should split your pair of 2s and 3s and hit against small dealer up cards of 2, 3, or 6.

The decision to split pairs should primarily be based on the dealer’s up card. For instance, you should never split twos or threes against a strong dealer showing a six or higher.

Insurance bet

Insurance is a side bet that pays out 2:1 when the dealer has an ace showing. The maximum amount that may be wagered on insurance is usually half of the player’s main blackjack wager. Despite the high payout, insurance is generally considered a sucker’s bet. However, it can be profitable for players who use card counting and know when the deck or shoe is rich in tens.

Unlike most side bets, the Insurance bet is available only in specific situations after the dealer has dealt their cards. It does not look or smell like a side bet, but its maths and house edge are identical to those of other side bets.

Early surrender

The ability to surrender in blackjack can dramatically improve your odds of winning a hand, especially when you are facing an unfavorable situation. This is especially helpful in situations where the dealer’s up card is a strong one. Surrendering a poor hand in these cases will save you 50% of your stake. This is a key element of card counting strategies, as it allows you to reduce your losses and maximise your overall returns.

Although early surrender is rarely available in online blackjack games, it does significantly reduce the house edge. Surrendering against a dealer’s ace decreases the house advantage by 0.39% and against a ten-value card, it drops by 0.24%.

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