If you want to make money at blackjack – or at least reduce the amount that you lose – you need to learn, memorize and stick to basic strategy. Because of its importance, I am covering basic strategy from every conceivable angle. Here is what to do when the dealer shows a 9 as the up card. This strategy works with online blackjack as well as a game at a brick and mortar casino.
First of all, keep in mind that due to the prevalence of 10 cards in the deck, if the dealer is showing a 9, he has good odds of having a hand of 19. Basic strategy takes into account the likelihood of the dealer having a 10 in the hole and the player and dealer drawing a 10 when taking a hit. Since a dealer stands on a 17 or better, he is not likely to bust with a 9 as an up card.
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 a 9, 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 9. 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 12-15, you should hit against a dealer 9 up card. Thought you have a stiff hand, it is too low to outdraw the dealer is he has a 19 or better. In fact, you can only win with these hands if the dealer busts. For that reason, your odds are slightly better taking a hit than standing, even though you have a good chance of busting when doing so.
If you have a hard 16, though, you should surrender against a dealer 9 if that is an option. With this combination, whether you hit or stand you have approximately a 77% chance of losing the hand. Therefore, in this situation it is actually better to lose 50% of your money 100% of the time, as is the case with surrendering. If surrender is not allowed, you should take a hit.
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 13-18 against a dealer 9 up card. That is because, again, the dealer is unlikely to bust, so a hand below 18 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 19 or better, you should stand against a dealer 9 up card. If the dealer has a 19, you would tie with a 19 and win with a better hand, so there is no reason to risking drawing a card that reduces the value of your hand.
You should only split pairs conservatively against a dealer 9 card. That is because the dealer likely has a good hand, so you don’t want to double your bet unless you have a great hand. For that reason, you should hit a pair of twos, threes or fours.
You should double down if you have a pair of fives against a dealer 9 card. He may have a good hand, but yours is better and by taking one more card, you have a good chance of drawing a 20, which can only lose to a 21.
If you have a pair of sixes or sevens, you should take a hit against a dealer 9 up card. 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 a pair of eights or nines, though. 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 19, 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.