Blackjack basic strategy is a must if you want to minimize your losses and reduce the house edge to an acceptable level. In teaching basic strategy, I am covering it from a variety of angles. In this series, of which this is the penultimate post, I am covering it based on what up card the dealer shows. In this post, we are dealing with a 10 as the dealer’s up card. As always, when I say 10, I mean any card with a value of 10, which includes a 10, Jack, Queen or King. This strategy works at an online casino as well as at the brick and mortar variety.
The first thing you need to know when you see a 10 as the dealer’s up card is that the dealer likely has a good hand. If the dealer has a 2-6 as a hole card, he has a stiff hand. However, any other card (7, 8, 9, 10, J, Q, K, A) gives the dealer a 17 or better. Therefore, the odds are against you when the dealer shows a 10. For that reason, strategy for splitting pairs and doubling is very conservative and you play your hand with the idea that the dealer is not likely to bust.
As always, if you have a hand of 8 or lower, you should take a hit. There is no risk of busting and your hand isn’t good enough to stand. Against a dealer 10, you should also hit if you have a hand of 9 or 10. Against most cards, you would double with a 10 because of your likelihood of drawing a 20. However, the dealer is just as likely of having a 20 with a 10 in the hole as you are of drawing a 20. If you both have 20, it’s a draw. Those aren’t good enough odds to double the bet.
You should, however, double down with a hand of 11 versus a dealer 10. In this case, your likelihood of drawing a 21 versus a dealer 20 gives you an edge, so doubling the bet is good strategy.
If you have a hard 12-14, you should hit versus a dealer 10 up card. Those hands are only good enough to win if the dealer busts, and a dealer with a 10 up card is not likely to bust, so you don’t want to stand in this situation. If you have a 15 or 16, you should surrender if allowed, because you are much more likely to bust than to outdraw the dealer. The dealer likely has a good hand and a hard 15 and 16 are the two hands most likely to bust.
As always, if you have a hard 17 or better, you should stand, because there is a much better chance of busting than improving your hand. Also, even against a dealer 10 up card, a hand of 17 or better is pretty good.
If you have a soft 13-18, you should take a hit against a dealer 10 up card. In this situation, you are taking advantage of the fact that you can’t bust by taking a hit. If you have a soft 19 or better, though, you should stand, because you already have a great hand and taking a hit will most likely reduce the value of your hand.
If you have a pair of twos through sevens, you should take a hit against a dealer 10 up card. You don’t want to split the pairs because the dealer probably has a good hand and you don’t want to double the bet. However, if you have a pair of eights, you always want to split because you’re taking a soft hand (16) and giving yourself a chance of drawing two much better hands (18).
If you have a pair of nines, you should stand against a dealer 10 up card. You already have a hand of 18, and splitting the cards could only improve your hand by one, while giving the possibility of reducing the hand’s value. Also, you should be conservative about doubling against a dealer 10.
You should always stand with a pair of tens, no matter what card the dealer shows, because you already have a hand of 20. Conversely, you should always split a pair of aces, no matter what card the dealer has, because an ace is the most powerful card in blackjack and you want to start a hand with one as often as possible.
With this strategy in mind, you are free to win some money playing online blackjack at your favorite casino.