Ways to Cut Down on Your Loss per Hour

Let’s say that you have been playing blackjack with your basic strategy chart on hand. And you’re playing it perfectly. So, thanks to your perfect basic strategy you have lowered the house edge to 0.05%. Which is great, but is there any way to do away with that remaining disadvantage?

Play at a full table. Play with as full of a table as you can find.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t work for blackjack online. But online blackjack players can apply what I’m about to say about game speed online.

First, a full table means that each round will take longer, slowing down the speed of the game. In the average multi-hand game, a full table will play about 55 rounds. If it’s just you and the dealer you’re talking about 220 hands. That’s translates to an average $7 loss per hour versus $28.

You can apply this to online blackjack simply by slowing your own game down. Don’t fly through the round. The slower you play the more money you are saving yourself. But since it’s just you, you have to be in control of your playing speed.

Okay, so a full table will save me cause me to only lose $7 an hour instead of $28. That’s good. What else?

Make bets on other players’ hands. If they won’t double down at an advantageous point, offer to cover it. Same if they’re hesitating on splitting an advantageous pair. This will give you a possible chance to win something even if your own hand isn’t so hot. Playing on another player’s hand allows for a greater positive effect.

If, in an hour, you can get in on at least two instances of betting on another player’s hand for $30 each you can earn back about $4. So take the $7 you lost in an hour minus the $4 you got back in betting on other hands and you’re only down $3 per hour now.

Playing at a full table allows you to see more of the cards being played and to get a better sense of the deck.

If you find yourself at a table with a great many face cards and Aces, save your spot and play at another table for a bit. If the high cards are passing out of the shoe it means that low ones are on their way. Doing so can save you around another $1. That will bring you down to losing $2 an hour.

On the other hand if you see at least eight more low end cards than higher end cards you’ll want to try tripling your bet. The low cards are passing out of play and the high cards are on their way in. Tripling when the cards turn high again can give you back another $1 or $2 an hour.

All that taken into consideration means that you can lower how much you lose per hour at a full table from about $7 to only $1 per hour. Or maybe you’ll be able to make it to losing nothing per hour. But you must be playing at a full table.

Double Down Smarts for Blackjack

It’s easy to win with a blackjack. All you do is receive the two cards from the dealer that total to 21; and then all you do is receive your payout. Easy.

But you only win 43.5% of your blackjack hands, both in online blackjack and land-based blackjack. This includes all hands that you hit, stand, split, double down on and your blackjacks.

But it is possible to increase the amount you win from those hands. The key lies not in hoping to be dealt more blackjacks but in double down. Do you know how many of your double down hands that you win when you do it correctly? Out of the double down hands you are presented with, you’ll win about 58% of them. But you have to be doubling down at the right time.

There are several hands that you should be doubling down on that many novice blackjack players pass up again and again. Below is a list of hands that should be doubled down on that often aren’t, along with percentage of times that those double downed blackjack hands win:

11 vs. dealer’s 10: 54%
10 vs. dealer’s 9: 54%
10 vs. dealer’s 8: 57%
9 vs. dealer’s 4: 55%
9 vs. dealer’s 3: 53%
Ace/7 vs. dealer’s 3: 54%
Ace/7 vs. dealer’s 4: 56%
Ace/7 vs. dealer’s 5: 58%
Ace/7 vs. dealer’s 6: 60%

Every single one of those hands has more than a 50% chance of winning. Which is why it’s such a shame that so many blackjack players pass them up? The reason is caution. Blackjack players will tend to play on the cautious side thinking to preserve their bankroll.

But the truth is that they could be adding to it by doubling down on hands that they tend to be more cautious with. But this is gambling. Gambling is a risk—that’s where the thrill of the game comes in. So, being true to the spirit of gambling, try doubling down on these hands several times and see what happens. You just might stop being nervous with them and be one of those lucky blackjack players that other players wish to play like.

A Blackjack Dealer without a Hole Card

Ever heard of a blackjack game in which the dealer doesn’t have a hole card?

You will now.

No, this isn’t some strange variation of blackjack. There are no side bets involved here. And even though on the surface a dealer without a hole card seems pretty harmless, it actually isn’t.

The way it works is that the dealer will deal two cards to each player at the table, and then only one to himself. Each player plays out his or her hand, and then the dealer receives his second card and continues to play out his hand from there.

The good thing about this style of blackjack is that it doesn’t impact the players in terms of cards. Think of that argument against that third base superstition—a player can’t make or break a dealer. Similarly, when the dealer receives his second card doesn’t really matter. There is no way of knowing if the card he would have had as a hole card in a normal game would be the best for him, or that the card he receives after all the other players have played out is best.

But that’s where the good stops.

What if the second card the dealer receives gives him a natural blackjack? And you’ve doubled down or split pairs? That’s twice the money you lost.

In a regular game if the dealer has a card worth 10 or an Ace showing he will check (after offering insurance in the case of the Ace) to see if he has blackjack. If he does the hand stops right there. This happens before players have made any decisions to double down or split pairs. And if the dealer does have blackjack you won’t have lost twice the money.

In this no hole card style a player could double down or split a pair before the dealer even receives his second card. You would have doubled your bet at more risk. Because if the dealer gets a natural blackjack when he receives his second card, you will have lost twice the money. And you wouldn’t have if he had had a hole card.

Luckily for those of you who play blackjack online this isn’t a concern. I have yet to see this sort of game in online blackjack. But if you’re on a cruise it is possible that you could encounter this type of game. If you do only play low stakes since there’s more risk involved. And even though it undermines basic strategy, I wouldn’t double down or split if the dealer’s first card is an Ace or a 10 card.

Tiny Cards and Aces

You will hear tell of blackjack players who swear and stand by doubling down on a tiny card and an Ace against a dealer’s tiny card. Say like an Ace/3 against a 3. As a soft hand the total here is 14 or 4 if you need it to be so. And players will double down on this.

In all actuality these blackjack players are actually hurting themselves when they do this. The reason for this is because out of the thirteen possible types of cards that there are, only five of those thirteen can give you a strong hand. And if you aren’t dealt one of those five cards, you’ll either have a weak hand or a hard hand.

This applies to all soft combinations of Ace/2 through Ace/5 in blackjack. These are not good hands to double on. They are tiny hands and hard to win with.

Rather than double, simply hit. In this way you have the option of reducing the value of your Ace from 11 to 1 to give your hand another chance to build a strong hand because you can hit for more than one card. Doubling would only leave you with one card to draw.

Now if you’re eager to double down on a soft hand, save it for an Ace/6 or an Ace/7. With these two hands you have an eight out of thirteen chance of making a good hand.

So save your doubling down in blackjack for those Ace/6 and Ace/7 hands. And do not double down on Ac/2 through Ace/5.

The Trick to Soft Hand Double Downs

It’s easy to decide whether to double down when you are playing with a hard hand. We all know that you double down with a hard 9, 10 or 11 and only when against certain dealer up cards. And never against a dealer’s Ace.

But what about when you have a soft hand?

Yes, there are soft hands that you can double down on.

It seems that a fair amount of blackjack players are somewhat uncertain of what to do with a soft hand: play it as a hard hand? Hit it? Stand?

While basic strategy is a very good guide to follow, there is another bit of blackjack strategy that you can use when debating on whether to double down or not: the Rule of 9.

But first what soft hands should consider and which ones should you not?

Never think of doubling down on an Ace-7, Ace-8 or Ace-9. Those you usually stand on.

But an Ace-2 up to an Ace-6 you can think about it. You can use the Rule of 9 as your guide as to when to double down on a soft hand in blackjack and when not to.

The Rule of 9 works like this in blackjack: add your number card (not the Ace) to the dealer’s up card. If the total is 9 or more, double down on that hand. For example, if you have an Ace-6 against a dealer’s 3, add that 3 to your 6 and you have 9—double down.

But if you had an Ace-4 against that 3, the 4 and the 3 only add up to 7—hit that hand instead.

The Rule of 9 is an easy to remember rule to keep in the back of your mind. You don’t even need a chart on hand to know how to use it. But it will help you know when to double down on soft hands in blackjack and when to just hit.

Player Favorable Blackjack Rules—Part V

Yes! There are more player favorable blackjack rules for you to be on the hunt for. While the 2-1 payout is probably the best thing to look for in a blackjack game, it is not a common sight in casinos. But you can look for the other player favorable rules discussed in this series. While these other rules don’t lower the house edge as much as the 2-1 payout does, every little bit helps.

When building your blackjack strategy, it is important to know what rules of the game are good for you and which ones are good for casinos. This is a more passive portion of your strategy as opposed to learning a skill like basic strategy or card counting. The point of strategy is to work your opponent down through using their weaknesses combined with skill. Think of player favorable rules as their weaknesses and basic strategy and card counting as skills you learn.

That being said, the next blackjack player favorable rule for you to know to use in your overall strategy is doubling down on three or more cards.

We’re all used to doubling down on the two initial cards we are dealt. We also know that hand totals of 9, 10 and 11 are the best times to do this.

And while this is still the most common blackjack practice in regards to doubling down, there are some casinos now that are doing something different with their doubling down rules: they are allowing players to double down after hitting for more cards.

Let’s say that you are dealt a 2 and 3 for an initial total of 5. You would of course hit. Let’s say that you drew a 5 for a new total of 10. And the dealer’s up card is a 6.

With a hand total of 10 you would want to double down, but based on regular casino rules you won’t be able to because you had already hit for more cards. This newer rule would allow you to double down on that 10 even though it’s made up of three cards.

This blackjack rule significantly increases your chances to double down, and therefore to win more hands, which means more money. This rule also lowers the house edge by around 0.2%

Now let’s say that you have been playing perfect basic strategy in a blackjack game that allows you to double down on more than three. Perfect basic strategy can lower the house edge to 0.5%. Now subtract that 0.2%. The house edge with this rule can be lowered to 0.3%. See how it adds up?

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

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

Best Hands to Double Down On

Blackjack is usually played from a defensive position. You make your playing decisions based on what the dealer’s up card is. Think about it. When you’re looking at your basic strategy chart you are seeing what to do in the situation that the dealer is showing X card.

However, there are some instances when we blackjack players get to go on the offensive. And those times are when we are dealt a starting hand total of 9, 10 or 11.

When we have one of those three starting hand totals, usually our best move is to double down. And doubling down is an offensive stance. When you are doubling down you are telling the dealer that you have a better chance of out-drawing the dealer—that your hand is stronger than his.

Having a starting hand of 11 you have the most opportunities to double down. Basically it’s best to double down if the dealer is showing a 2 through 10. The only time you don’t is when the dealer has an Ace showing.

If you have 10, double down against a dealer’s 2 through 9. And if you have a 9, double down 3 through 6.

When you double down you only receive one more card. If that last card is a 10 you know have 19, 20 or 21—all of which are strong hands.

And because you doubled down on a hand in which you have a better chance of out drawing the dealer, you have a better chance of doubling your winnings.

If you can’t have a natural blackjack or a hard 20 or 19, an 11 would be the hand to wish for next.

Know Your Winning Blackjack Hands

Remember the 10-10 that we discussed yesterday? You will have around 70% of you winnings between the 10-10 and the always loved Ace-10. So what hands make up the other 30% of your winnings? And how do you play them so that you win when dealt them?

There are five hands that will make up most of the other 30% of your winnings: 10-9, Ace-9, Ace-8, 11 and 10. And each of these hands has their own way of being played.

Ace-21

Do nothing and just take your winnings.

10-10
Just a quick recap. Even though this is a pair, this is one of those pairs that you never split when playing blackjack. Just play it out as a hard 20.

10-9
Even though this isn’t worth 20, this is still a decent hand; the dealer can only beat you if he has 20 or a natural blackjack. With this hand you will want to stand.

Ace-9
Although this is a soft hand, because of the Ace, you need to stand here, playing this hand as a hard 20. It might be tempting to reduce the Ace to 1 and hit on a hard 10, but why throw away a hand that can only be beaten by a dealer’s natural blackjack? If you hit there’s no guarantee that do better than the 20 you had. So your best bet is to stand on an Ace-9.

Ace-8
Again, like the Ace-9, you will want to play this hand as if it were a hard hand. Ignore the urge you may have to hit on what could be a hard 9. The principle here, and with the Ace-9, is not to ignore an opportunity like you have with most soft hands; what you are doing here is taking advantage of a strong hand that you most likely will not better if you choose to hit. Stand on a soft 19.

11
With hard 11 it’s best to just fork over the money to increase you original bet, and go ahead and double down, especially if the dealer is showing a 10 or less. Yes, you will only receive one more card, but you already have a good starting place. If you’re a card counter and the deck is rich in high grades, defiantly double down.

10
And you will want to double with a hard 10 as long as the dealer is showing 9 or less. Also for card counters, like with the hard 11, make sure to double down here if the remaining deck is rich in high cards.

What Hand Stands to Win After a Natural Blackjack?

Every time we sit down at a blackjack table or in front of our computers, we always hope that we will be dealt a natural. We hope for it whether we’re really aware of it or not. And most of the time this is an unfulfilled hope.

So what should we hope to be dealt if we aren’t dealt 21?

That should be an easy answer you either want an Ace-9 or a 10-10.

And would you believe that many, many blackjack players mis-play these two hands?

First, the Ace-9. Because it could be called a soft 20 (and who really calls it a soft 20? It’s a 20!), a good many blackjack players will either hit on this hand or double down. It’s the Ace that throws them. They see that Ace and think that they can play this hand as hard 10. Which is why so many players will also try to double down on it.

Never hit or double down on an Ace-9. Forget the soft part of this hand, and look at the fact that you have 20 in your hand! The only thing that can beat you is if the dealer has a natural blackjack. And if the dealer has 20 also, it’s only a push and you haven’t money.

Now the other hand: 10-10. Because this is a pair, many less-knowledgeable blackjack players will split this. And, again, they are failing to see what is in their hand. They see the opportunity to split and play with two hands. But in the long run they will lose more money by splitting.

Instead look at a 10-10 for what it is: a 20. Never ever split it.

It’s best to just leave these two blackjack hands be and play with them as they are. So incorporate into your blackjack strategy to play with Ace-9 and 10-10 as they are.