Reducing the house edge in blackjack to an acceptable level – as low as 0.5% — requires strict adherence to blackjack basic strategy. This strategy works in online casinos as well as the brick and mortar variety. Given the importance of basic strategy, I decided to analyze it from many different angles. Here is the basic strategy for when the dealer shows an 8 as the up card.
If the dealer shows an 8 as an up card, he has a good chance of having a hand of 18, given the high number of 10-value cards in the deck. That makes this situation drastically different from when the dealer shows a 2-6, because that leaves the dealer with a high likelihood of a stiff hand. If the dealer has an 18, he will stand and there is no chance of the dealer busting.
First of all, as always, you should hit if you have an 8 or less, because there is no risk of busting and your cards aren’t good. If the dealer shows an 8, you should also hit if you have a 9. Again, there is no risk of busting, but your hand isn’t really good enough to double down.
If you have a 10 or 11, you should double down against a dealer 8. That is because you have a good hand. Upon drawing the next card, you have a good chance of drawing a 20 or 21, which are tough to beat. Given the strength of those potential hands, you should double the money on your bet.
If you have a hard 12-16, you should hit against a dealer 8 up card. Unfortunately, you have a stiff hand, which is likely to bust but is too low to outdraw the dealer. In fact, you can only win if the dealer busts. When the dealer has an 8 as an up card, he is not likely to bust, since the dealer will stand on a 17 or better. For that reason, your odds are slightly better (though still not good) taking a hit than standing.
If you have a hard 17 or better, you should always stand, no matter what card the dealer shows. There are too many cards that will bust you and not enough that will improve your hand.
For soft hands, you should hit if you have a soft 13-17 against a dealer 8 up card. That is because, again, the dealer is unlikely to bust, so a hand below 17 is unlikely to win. For that reason, and because there is no risk of busting with a soft hand, you should take a hit and hope to improve your hand.
If you have a soft 18 or better, you should stand against a dealer 8 up card. If the dealer has an 18, you would tie with an 18 and win with a better hand, so there is no reason to risking drawing a card that reduces the value of your hand.
When it comes to splitting pairs, you want to do so conservatively against a dealer 8 up card. That is because the dealer likely has a good hand, so you want to be careful about doubling your bet. Therefore, if you have a pair of twos, threes or fours, you should take a hit. Splitting the pairs might not help your hands and doubles your bet against a good dealer hand.
If you have a pair of fives against a dealer 8 up card, you should double down. Despite the dealer’s good hand, you probably have a better one. Drawing one more card can give you a 20, which can only be bested by a hand of 21. Therefore, doubling the money on this hand is a good idea.
You should hit a pair of sixes and sevens against a dealer 8 up card, because splitting could give you two hands of 16 and 17, which could very well be outdrawn by the dealer’s hand. Therefore, you don’t want to double the bet.
You should split, however, if you have a pair of eights or nines. This splits up a hand of 16 (a stiff hand) or 18 and gives you a good chance of drawing two hands of 18 or 19. Given how bad a 16 is and how good hands of 18 and 19 are, combined with the fact that the dealer likely has an 18, this is the wise play.
You should never split a pair of tens, because you already have a hand of 20, and you should always split a pair of aces, since aces are the most powerful card in blackjack. They are the best because you can’t bust with a soft hand and you can use an ace to draw a natural blackjack, which pays 3:2.
The above strategy works in online casinos as well as the brick and mortar variety.