The astute blackjack player pays attention to the house rules set by the casino or online casino for their blackjack games. This is why you do not see professional blackjack players playing variations of the game or at blackjack tables with poor house rules.
One such house rule that is of poor quality is allowing a dealer to hit a soft 17.
While on the surface this house rule does not like it would be all that damaging to a player
The game of blackjack is one of the most balanced casino games, be it online blackjack or blackjack found in a brick and mortar casino.
Think about it for a moment. The odds of winning blackjack are 48% and the odds of losing are 52%. That is actually pretty even in terms of odds of winning. The reason for the fairly even odds of winning or losing comes from the fact that blackjack is a pretty balanced game.
The balance is from the structure of the game, from its rules. See, look:
For every house rule that gives the player some sort of advantage in terms of odds, there is some aspect of the game that will counter balance it. Take for example the house rule that has the dealer standing on all 17s, that is one rule that benefits players because once the dealer reaches that 17 there is nothing else he can do, and if he has a hard 16 he still has to hit it even though it is likely that he will bust.
To counter the increase in player odds, the house will also be using multiple decks at that table. It is not a normal occurrence to find a game of single deck blackjack and that also has the dealer standing on al 17s.
Another example is a blackjack game played with two decks that does allow the dealer to hit a soft 17. But in that game players are allowed to double down on any of their first two cards, not just 9s, 10s or 11s, double down after splitting pairs and resplit pairs up to a set number of hands.
If you study the house rules and the number of decks being used, you can get a pretty good idea of whether the blackjack table you are looking at is balanced enough or not. And if you observe that the rules and set up lean heavily on the house, you know not to play at that blackjack table, and to keep looking for a balanced blackjack game.
Some players think that working in games that allow the dealer to hit a soft 17 is good for their blackjack strategy.
They would be mistaken.
Sure, on the surface a dealer hitting a soft 17 sounds like a good thing. Players might think that the dealer has a better shot of busting because he is so close to 21. But what these players are forgetting is that Ace. The Ace that makes that soft 17 soft can be reduced to a 1 if the dealer hits and receives a card that would cause him to bust.
Because of that Ace, dealers can actually reduce that 17 to an 8 and hit to rebuild a stronger hand. He might then wind up with a hard 17 or higher that stands a shot of beating the player. Just like how an Ace can benefit a player, so too can it benefit the dealer. A soft 17 can be rebuilt whereas a hard 17 has a better shot of being beat by the player.
With that ability to rebuild his soft 17, the house
Aces are the strongest cards in the game of blackjack. This is because of their ability to be counted as an 11 or a 1. That flexibility is what makes them the strongest card.
Not to mention the fact that they are essential to having a natural blackjack.
But Aces are also strong because of how they work with pairs.
I have discussed how, when dealt a pair of Aces, you need to split them. This is because it increases your blackjack odds because it increases your chances of making money.
But there is another house rule that further increases the flexibility of Aces. And in increase in flexibility further increases your blackjack odds.
Sometimes casinos will allow for players to resplit Aces. This means that you are dealt a pair of Aces in your first two cards, you split them, then at least one of those new hands receives another Ace forming a second pair of Aces.
A fair number of casinos will not allow players to resplit such a second hand, and you would be stuck with a soft 12.
However there are times when the house rules are changed a bit, and players are allowed to resplit Aces. This house rule takes 0.06% away from the house
To go along with the stories of mistakes made while playing blackjack, I will talk about another one this afternoon: splitting Aces. Similar to how soft hands are often misplayed, pairs are often misplayed, although soft hands are more often played wrong than pairs. A lack of blackjack strategy is involved here.
And while players do not seem willing to embrace the aspect that makes a soft hand soft, players will fall into one of two camps in regards to splitting pairs: split them all or split none of them.
And neither blackjack camp is correct.
Good blackjack strategy has players not splitting some pairs and splitting others. One of those pairs that, according to good blackjack strategy, should be split all of the time is a pair of Aces.
Think about it. If you value both Aces at 11 it gives you a hand total of 22, which is stupid and an instant bust. And valuing them both at 1 seems rather silly. We are left to value one card at 11 and one at 1, which is a hand total of 12. Uh oh, you now have a hard 12, one of the infamous stiff hands. What is a blackjack player to do?
Split those Aces!
It does not matter what the dealer
Busting comes with one of two feelings in blackjack. Either you are quite pleased because the dealer busted, or you are none too pleased because you busted.
Your blackjack odds for busting is about once out of every six hands. That equates to around 16% of the time. And that is if you are a basic strategy blackjack player. If you do not play according to basic strategy, then shame on you and you will be busting more often. So go find a chart.
As for the dealer, the blackjack odds on him busting is twice out of every seven hands, which is around 28% of the time. But do not jump for joy just yet. Just because the dealer has busted does not mean that the house has lost.
This is where part of the house
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