Player Favorable Blackjack Rules—Part VI

After a bit of a break we’re now going to return to the player favorable blackjack rules.

Have you ever been in a game and the round hasn’t played out the way you would have liked it to? You just wish that you could’ve backed out of the round somehow.

If you were playing in a game that allows for late surrender then you could have.

Late surrender allows you to quit the round after seeing the dealer’s hole card for the cost of half of your wager. Let’s say you had bet $20 and then decided to make a late surrender. You would only lose $10 rather than the whole $20.

The only time you can’t make a late surrender is if the dealer turns out to have a natural blackjack. Automatic loss then.

But late surrender can come in handy for the approximate 43% of the time that you are dealt a stiff hand. If you’re dealt a stiff hand, make your play, and then feel that you don’t have a decent shot at winning after the dealer’s hole card is revealed, you can still surrender. This comes in handy with stiff hands because you tend lose more of those hands than win. Late surrender will help to minimalize your losses in those cases.

And because of that advantage you have in being able to bow out of the round, the house edge is lowered by 0.08%. But you must play it correctly. And that means abiding by basic strategy.

A good basic strategy chart will tell you when to surrender if the option is available. Most charts will tell you that the best time to surrender is when you have a hard 15 and are facing a dealer up card of 10. The other best times to make a late surrender is when you have a hard sixteen and the dealer’s up card is a 9, 10 or an Ace.

Keep an eye open for Player Favorable Blackjack Rules–Part VII

Player Favorable Blackjack Rules—Part II

In addition to single deck games, you blackjack players also want to keep an eye out for blackjack games that allow you to double down after splitting a pair.

You have a pair when the first two cards you are dealt are worth the same amount. This would be being dealt two 6s. It is also a pair when you are dealt a 10 and, say, a Queen. These cards make a pair because they’re both worth ten, but no real blackjack player would split a pair of 10s when it could be played as a hard 20—nice strong hand there.

Doubling down is when you double your original bet and receive only one more card before standing.

Not all casinos will allow you to double down after you split a pair. But when you can it lowers the house edge by about 0.14%. And it also the payout potential is pretty outstanding.

Let’s say that you are playing at a $10 minimum table. You place a $10 bet and are dealt a pair of nines against a dealer up card of three. Basic strategy for this situation is to split. So you put out another $10 and split your cards.

But let’s say that you want to double down on one of your newly split pairs. You put forth another $10—your total bet that’s on the line is now$30—and receive a 10. One of your hands is now worth 19, which is pretty strong. Let’s keep going and say that the dealer busts and you win. You just won $60!

You can see how some casinos might frown on doubling down after splitting pairs—it might cost them too much when they add up the lowered house edge and the payouts they would have to make.

But if you can find a blackjack game that will allow to double down after splitting play there. If you play there and use perfect basic strategy, you can look at a house edge that is a little lower than the 0.5% you would have at a regular blackjack game.

Keep an eye open for Player Favorable Blackjack Rules—Part III

How to Play a Hard 12 in Blackjack

When playing blackjack, you are bound to be dealt a stiff hand. These are the hardest hands to play in blackjack. They are difficult to win with.

You’ll be dealt a stiff hand around 43% of the time you play. This is because there are more stiff hands (12-16) than there are strong hands (18-20); and when you’re dealt a hand with a low total, you have a decent chance of hitting yourself into a stiff hand.

But off the stiff hands, according to basic strategy, hard 12 gives you the most room to work with…for a stiff hand.

With hard 13 through hard 16, you will need to stand against half of the dealer’s up cards. But with a hard 12 you’re hitting against seven of the ten cards a dealer could have.

We all know that all stiff hands will hit when facing a dealer’s 7 and higher. And you stand on a dealer 2 through 6. Except for the hard 12.

When you have a hard 12 against a dealer 2 or 3 it’s best to hit. You can actually win 37% of the time when hitting a hard 12 against the dealer’s 2 or 3. Yes, you can lose 63% of the time. But if you were to stand against the dealer’s 2 or 3 you will only win 35% of the time.

Now I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be making the play where I stand a 37% of winning than 35%.

While 37% isn’t that much higher than 35% it is still higher. And in this game you want to make the play that gives you the best chance of winning and minimizes your losses. And that is the case with a hard 12 against a dealer 2 or 3. By hitting you are increasing you chances of winning and minimizing you losses as best you can with the cards you’ve been dealt.

How to Learn Basic Strategy

Basic strategy is an awesome tool for blackjack players. Playing it perfectly can lower the house edge from 2-5% to 0.5%. But you must play it perfectly for the house edge to come down.

Playing perfect basic strategy means playing every single one of your hands according to what the chart says. No deviating no matter what your brain is telling you. And while it is perfectly legal to carry a basic strategy chart with you into a casino or use one online, the quality of your blackjack games can improve if you can play without the chart.

There are a few ways that you can learn basic strategy so that you don’t have to carry a chart around.

You can practice playing at online casinos in their free play mode. Just keep playing, trying to remember what play you’re supposed to make without looking at the chart. The repetitive nature of learning this way will allow you to learn while playing. This method tends to take longer.

Another method is to sit down and study the chart. Try memorizing a line a day. It’s even recommended to make flash cards. Put the dealer’s up card versus a player’s hand on one side; on the back side write down what the correct play is. Keep running through the flash cards until you can name the correct play to make without hesitation. Every so often take a blank sheet of paper and recreate the entire basic strategy chart—see how much of the chart you have memorized. Keep recreating the chart until you have the entire thing right.

Having the basic strategy chart memorized will help speed up the game when you play. You will also know that you are making the best play possible when at the blackjack table or online.

How to Play with Soft Hands–Soft 18

Similar to soft 17, soft 18 is another hand that blackjack players tend to play timidly.

It always boils down to that feeling of relief: “I have 18. I’m good. I have a shot at winning. And I don’t have to worry about busting.”

If you’re choosing to stand on soft 18, you might as well have been dealt a hard 18 if you’re going to ignore the opportunity offered to you by having been dealt that Ace.

So if that’s the way you want to play then let’s take a moment to look at hard 18. Basic strategy says to stand on hard 18. And it’s obvious logic that you do since hitting will most likely bust you.

But soft 18 is not hard 18, ergo the difference in names and ergo the need to treat them differently.

Your best chance of winning happens when the dealer’s upcard is a 2 through an 8, so it’s good strategy to stand on a soft 18 when faced with those dealer up cards. Here’s why.

Always figuring that his hole card is a 10, that would mean he would have a 12 through 18. He would have to hit on his 12 through 16 and stands a pretty decent chance of busting. And he would stand on his 17 or 18; the 17 you would beat and the 18 you would push, so at least you wouldn’t lose money there. So stand on a soft 18 against a 2 through 8—same as you would if you had a hard hand.

Here’s where your blackjack strategy is different from how you would play a hard 18.

You need to hit if you are facing a dealer 9, 10 or Ace. Factoring that assumed 10 hole card, he has 19, 20 or blackjack. And you can’t beat that if you stand on a soft 18. This is knowing your opponent and trying to find the most advantageous play.

Hitting here reduces your soft 18 to a hard 8. You can hit for a combination of low cards that can add up to at least 19, if not 20 or 21.

If it is allowed and you are a card counter and the deck is rich in high cards, you should double down if facing a dealer’s 3 through 6. That would reduce your soft 18 to a hard 8, which you can hit and still have a shot at coming in close to 21 and stay under as long as the deck is rich in high cards. Yes, it’s a gamble, but this is blackjack, not Monopoly.

Always think of what that hole card is, imagine it as a 10. Your blackjack strategy for soft hands should reflect that flexibility of the Ace you’re holding. Remember that some hands will be played the same as a hard hand and others won’t. The best fall-back is to play according to basic strategy—that chart will give you the best plays for soft hands if you can’t remember.

How to Play with Soft Hands–Soft 17

Soft hands can be tricky to play with real success. It’s all because of that Ace. Some players will look for the easy way out when they have been dealt a soft hand.

Take, for example, being dealt a 6 and an Ace. Soft 17.

Many players will play this hand as they would a hard 17. That’s because they are so focused on that 17. And in some cases that’s an acceptable thing to do. But in many cases it isn’t the most advantageous play to make. ‘Isn’t the most advantageous’ as in you are going to lose more money in the long run if you always stand on soft 17.

Let’s go back to the basic principle of blackjack strategy, and that is assuming that the dealer’s hole card is worth ten. Once you assume that you can assume what the dealer’s total is versus what your total is.

Pretend that you have been dealt a soft 17 and the dealer has an upcard of either an 8, 9, 10 or Ace. If the dealer has any one of those for an upcard, and you assume that his hole card is a ten, then you need to play a defensive strategy.

And having a soft 17 gives you the ability to play defensively. You can turn that soft 17 into a hard seven and hit, which is what basic strategy tells you to do with a hard 7. This is giving your hand another chance at winning.

You can take even more advantage of a soft 17 by doubling down. It’s best to double down when the dealer is showing a 3, 4, 5 or 6. This is because the dealer has the best chances of busting against a soft 17, making you the winner.

You can use this blackjack strategy for a soft 17 both in casinos and online casinos.

Adding More to Your Blackjack Strategy—Betting On Another Player’s Hand

Imagine making money off of another player’s hand. Can you do that? Yes, you can, it’s perfectly legal to do. And well worth adding to your blackjack strategy.

So why would you do this? Another player might have an advantage but not the nerve to up the wager to take full advantage of their hand. The good blackjack player that you are, remember your blackjack vows, you can’t let someone lose money to the house just because they’re a little nervous of putting out a few more chips. So you help them out.

Imagine that everyone’s betting the minimum of $20. The guy sitting next to you was just dealt a 7-4 against the dealer’s 10. Basic strategy for this set up is to double down. And the guy sitting next to you knows this, but you see him hesitating on putting out another $20. So instead of another $20, he put out only $10 and tries doubling for less.

This is where you become a blackjack hero. Step in, toss him $10 of your chips and tell him that you’ll go in with him on this hand. So now you’ve got money riding on your own hand that you can win from, and now you can win money off of your neighbor’s. For less than a full bet you can now win money from two hands.

The point of blackjack strategy is to take full advantage of the cards. And if you see another player who isn’t taking full advantage, get in on the action and take the part of the advantage that they aren’t willing to take. Make sure they’re okay with you betting on their hand first. The added benefit to betting on another player’s hand is that such strategy can also help lower the house edge by around 0.15%.

Another time to go in on another player’s hand is when another player has two 7s versus a dealer’s 6. He splits and gets another 7. He needs to split again, but he’s already put out an extra $20 already. Offer to cover the amount of the second split. This gets you in on the action, lowers the house edge and allows you both to take advantage of a money-making situation since 7s against a dealer’s 6 is a moneymaker.

So why add this to your blackjack strategy?

When you’re playing blackjack, it’s you versus the dealer, but there are other players against the dealer. And the dealer represents the casino. So why let the casino take more blackjack player money when they should be paying out to us. So help your fellow players out so that they can take full advantage of their hands, and let’s make those casinos payout some more.

A Little Something Extra for Your Basic Strategy

Basic strategy is already an awesome skill to have in your blackjack arsenal. But you can add to it, tweek at bit you might say.

Let’s look at this situation: you have just been dealt a 16 against a dealer’s 10.

Basic strategy dictates that you hit here. And for the most part that’s going to be the best thing for you to do for your overall blackjack game. But let’s look at the makeup of that 16 and think about tweeking how you play out this hand.

Your 16 could be made up of two cards, 10-6 or 9-7, or it could be made up with three cards, like a 4-5-7. And there’s a difference on how you play your hands depending on how your hand is constructed.

If your 16 is made up of three cards you are actually better off standing rather than hitting. The reason for this is because when you have three cards making up your 16, it means that you’re already holding smaller number cards. You would need more in order to stay below 21. And because you already have small cards in your hand, and you figure that other players have small cards as well, means that you don’t have very good odds of getting more.

Another hand you can apply this strategy to is a starting total of 12 versus a dealer who has a 4 up. Normally you would stand here, according to basic strategy. But what you need to consider is what your 12 is made up of. Most combinations of 12 (9-3, 8-4, 7-5) are fine for standing; they’re made up of low or neutral value cards, which increases your chances of busting if you hit.

But if your 12 is made up of 10-2 then you’re better off hitting. The only cards that can bust you are ten value cards. Everything else will just raise your total, possibly putting you near 21.

What you need to take from this posting is that while basic strategy is still the best way to play, to advance your blackjack strategy and finer tune your odds, consider the makeup of a stiff hand and how it reflects on the remaining deck.

If card counting is already a part of your blackjack strategy, you will already know whether the deck is rich in highs or lows. Take that into consideration when you are dealt a stiff hand. Look at the cards you have versus the cards that have already been played. At that point you can decide whether you should hit or stand.

21 Things to Avoid When Playing Blackjack—Part II

While the first seven tips from my last blog are a good place to start if you’re looking to improve your overall blackjack experience, there is more. Yes, I said more.

Think about the images you have of dressed-up players and how snazzy they look. If you look at movies and those images hard enough, you can see that there are subtle things that they do. These are the unspoken rules. If you are looking to have that snazzy casino feel about you, then start incorporating these things into how you play blackjack.

  1. One of the biggest things you can do to lower your standing with fellow players is to not use basic strategy. No joke here. Basic strategy is considered the correct way to play. It’s seen as foolish to now play by this strategy. It’s legal to use in casinos, both online and land based, and it’s the best statistical chances for every hand.
  2. This next one is merely a matter of form—remember that snazzy casino player image? Stack your chips from highest denomination to lowest chip. The dealer can then add up the total amount of your bet easily.
  3. You’ve heard about players who get upset when a new player sits down mid-shoe and starts playing? There are two things about sitting down at a table mid-shoe. 1. In some casinos it’s forbidden and a sign is posted saying so. 2. If it is allowed, respect the other players already playing and wait to start playing at that table.
  4. Advice on playing two or more spots at one table: in most casinos you will have to bet double the minimum on each hand that you play. Be aware of that before you spread to more hands. If you aren’t sure whether you have to bet double on each hand, then ask the dealer. And also, when playing more than one spot at a table, finish one hand before you even look at the next.
  5. If you’re the lucky player who gets to insert the cut card, be aware that the majority of casinos require the cut card to go at least a half-deck from either end. Just know this and remember it. If you don’t place it more than half-deck in you will get a rebuke from the dealer and have to cut again. It holds up the game and can make you appear to be a novice in front of other players.
  6. This one is a pretty big one in terms of respect for your fellow players: do not ever tell another player how to play his hand. If he asks then go ahead and give your advice. But if they don’t ask, don’t say anything—let them think and learn for themselves. Would you like it if you had a table full of people telling you how to play?
  7. Now, the last one for this post is a very big deal. If you don’t follow this unwritten rule, you will find the consequences could be more than you want. Never, ever, at all under any circumstances take your bad luck out on fellow players or the dealer. This is considered extremely bad form and very bad blackjack manners. And it will make other players think very little of you.

There. You now have seven more etiquette tips to work into your blackjack playing style. So start working them in and see how much more your gaming experience improves.

Keep an eye open for “21 Things to Avoid When Playing Blackjack—Part III

Blackjack: The Root of the Phobia & How to Overcome It!

Who’s afraid of blackjack?

Actually quite a lot of people.

So what do they do when at the casinos?

They play slots. They want to try playing strategic games, they want to try blackjack. But they’re afraid of it.

What are they afraid of?

They’re afraid of making mistakes when playing. I suppose this is understandable. We all know that there are die-hard blackjack players who are barely able to restrain themselves when a novice player doesn’t play exactly right. So it’s completely understandable that a novice blackjack player would be intimidated.

But, hey, everyone makes mistakes—even those die-hard blackjack players.

So how do you, slot player or not, gain the confidence to play blackjack?

Start at the beginning and learn the rules. The objective is to beat the dealer without going over 21.

You will be dealt two cards. Add up their value to get your hand total. The dealer will have also received two cards, one will be face up and the other face down.

At this point you have to choose how to play. If you want to try to increase your hand total, then hit for more cards. Once you are happy with your hand total you stand. You can also stand if you are happy with the first two cards you were dealt—you do not have to hit unless you wish to. You can also double down; you would double your original bet and receive one more card before having to stand. If you are dealt two cards with the same value, a pair, you can split them into two separate hands by adding another bet of the same amount as the your original. Each card will receive another card so that each hand will start with two cards. You then play each hand individually.

Learning the game is the easy part. The hard part, and this is what intimidates new players the most, which play to you make and when?

This is surprisingly easy too. Use a basic strategy chart. This is a chart with the best statistical play for every card total versus each dealer’s up card. A basic strategy chart will tell you how to play each hand. Just play how it tells you to and stick with it. You will win more hands in the long run than if you played without it.

This will give you a good start in learning blackjack. Try playing at low stakes table to start out with or practice playing for free online in a casino’s free play mode. Practice will help build your confidence and make you comfortable with the game.