Blackjack Strategy: Dealer Ace

This is the last part in my 10-part series on covering blackjack basic strategy by what up card the dealer shows. Are you sad? Excited? Is it like how depressed I was when it hit me that LOST was coming to an end? Actually, forget I mentioned that. It’s a sore subject.

As always, this strategy works just as well in an online casino as in the brick and mortar variety. Here I am discussing the strategy for when the dealer shows an ace as the up card.
The first thing you need to know is that when the dealer shows an ace, that’s bad news. You’re probably going to lose. The dealer might have a natural blackjack, in which case you’ll lose before even drawing more cards. Even if he doesn’t he will have a soft hand that is likely high in value. When the dealer has an ace as an up card, your odds of winning are slim. With that out of the way, here’s the strategy.

You should always hit with an 8 or less, because you have a low card and no risk of busting. Against a dealer ace up card, you should also hit anything from a 9 to a hard 15. You don’t want to stand with any of these hands because you are likely to be outdrawn by the dealer. You don’t want to double, even with a 10 or 11, because even with those cards your hand likely isn’t better than the dealer’s.

With a hard 16, you should surrender if allowed. If not, take a hit. You should surrender because a hard 16 is the worst hand in blackjack. It’s only high enough to win if the dealer busts yet it has high odds (7/13) of busting when you take a hit. For that reason, your best bet is to surrender half of your bet 100% of the time, rather than losing all of your bet considerably more often than that.

With a hard 17 or better you should stand against any dealer up card, including an ace. Those hands are high enough that you can win even without the dealer busting and you are more likely to bust than to improve your hand by taking a hit.

With a soft 13-18, you should take a hit against a dealer ace. There is no risk of busting with a soft hand. In addition, you are likely to be outdrawn by standing, so your best chance is to try to improve your hand. With a soft 19 or better, though, you should stand. That is because you are more likely to reduce the quality of your hand than to improve it. Also, your hand may be high enough to win.

When it comes to splitting pairs, you should be conservative against a dealer ace. Since you are not likely to win, you don’t often want to double the bet. With a pair of twos through sevens, you should take a hit. You should split a pair of eights, though, because you’re splitting up a stiff hand (16) and giving yourself a chance for two good hands (18).

You should stand with a pair of nines or tens against a dealer ace. You have good hands (18, 20) and are likely to bust by drawing another card. Though you still don’t have great odds – due to the dealer’s hand – your best odds are to stand and hope you outdraw the dealer.

If you have a pair of aces, then congratulations! You actually have a hand better than the dealer. In that case, split the pair. If you do, you have two hands starting with an ace versus one dealer hand starting with an ace. The odds are now in your favor, so good luck! So the next time you’re playing blackjack at the casino, be sure to stick to this strategy for the best chance of success.

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