Posts Tagged ‘dealer up card odds’

Blackjack odds: Will dealer bust with a 5 or 6 up card?

Monday, August 30th, 2010

Anyone schooled on blackjack basic strategy breathes a sigh of relief when they see the dealer draw a five or six as an up card. They know those are the worst dealer hands and they feel they have a good chance of winning. Players who don’t understand the blackjack odds, though, might assume that the dealer will bust and they will win. The truth is, that will happen less than half of the time.

The correct strategy against a dealer five or six up card is to stand if you have a 12 or higher, but that doesn’t guarantee success. Players look at the dealer up card and assume that they have a 15 or 16, given the fact that there are more ten cards in a deck than any other. However, there are only 4/13 odds of the dealer having a ten in the hole.

If the dealer has a 5 as an up card, there is a 4/13 chance that he has a hand of 15 because four cards (ten, jack, queen, king) give him that total. The dealer has a 7/13 chance of having any kind of stiff hand, which is a hand of 12-16. All stiff hands have good chances of busting, but your odds might not be as good as you think.

If the dealer has a five as an up card, he has a 41.8% chance of busting. He has a 12.2% chance of finishing with a hand total of 17, an identical chance of drawing an 18, an 11.8% chance of drawing a hand of 19, an 11.2% chance of finishing with a hand of 20 and a 10.8% chance of finishing with a hand of 21.

If the dealer has a six as an up card, he has a 42.3% chance of busting. He has a 16.6% chance of drawing a 17, a 10.6% chance of drawing an 18 or 19, a 10.2% chance of drawing a 20 and a 9.7% chance of drawing a 21.

What that means is if you have a hand of 12 and stand against a dealer 5 up card, you only have a 41.8% chance of winning the hand, because if the dealer finishes with any of those other totals, you lose. However, standing in that situation is still the best strategy because the risk of you busting if you take a hit.

Understanding the odds leads to making better decisions and getting more enjoyment out of the game of blackjack. Too many players get upset when they lose against a dealer five or six because they take a win for granted in that situation. Though your odds are good, they aren’t as good as most people think.

Blackjack Strategy: Dealer 9 Card

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

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.

Blackjack Strategy: Dealer 4 Card

Monday, May 24th, 2010

This is the third part in the series covering what to do based on what up card the dealer shows. This is according to blackjack basic strategy, the accepted means of reducing the house edge to as low as 0.5%.

If the dealer shows a 4 card, he had a good chance of having a stiff hand (12-16), especially considering that there are more cards with a value of 10 than any other value (which would give the dealer a 14). With that in mind, here is what you should do when the dealer has a 4 as an upcard.

You should obviously hit with an 8 or lower, because there is no risk of busting and your cards aren’t good. If you have a 9, 10 or 11, you should double down. That is because the dealer has a bad hand that is likely to bust anyway. You, on the other hand, will have a hand of a 19, 20 or 21 if the next card you draw is a 10. Your chance of a good hand combined with the dealer’s likelihood of busting means this is a good situation to double your bet and take one more card.

If you have a hard 17 or more, you should stand as always. Against a dealer up card of 4, you should also stand if you have a hard 12-16. That is because you have a stiff hand and if you hit, you have a good chance of busting and low odds of improving your hand. On the other hand, the dealer also likely has a stiff hand. If you both bust, you lose, but if only the dealer busts, you win no matter what hand you have. Therefore, in this situation it is best to stand and hope the dealer busts.

Soft hands are a little more complicated when the dealer shows a 4. If you have a soft 13 or 14, you should take a hit, because your hand isn’t great, you have no risk of busting, and your hand would only win if the dealer busts. If you have a soft 15-18, you should double down. In this situation, there is no risk of busting. If you draw a low card you improve your hand but even if you draw a high card you are left with a stiff hand, which isn’t any worse than what you started in the case of the 15 and 16. Also, the dealer has a good chance of busting with his hand, so doubling the bet makes sense.

If you have a soft 19 or 20, you should always stand, no matter what card the dealer shows. You have a great hand that can only be improved with an ace or two and even though you can’t bust, your odds of ending up with a lower hand are better than your odds of improving your hand.

When it comes to pair splitting strategy, there is a lot to remember. If you have a pair of twos or threes, you should split against a dealer 4. The dealer is likely to bust and hands of 4 and 6 are likely to land you right in the middle of a stiff hand. It is better then to double your bet and start each hand with a two or three. If you have a pair of fours, though, you should hit because your 8 can become a hand of 18 if you draw a 10. If you have a pair of fives, you should double down because you have a good chance of drawing a 20 by taking one more card.

If you have a pair of sixes through nines, you should split when the dealer shows a 4. Hands of 12-16 are stiff hands that you always want to break up when you can. A pair of nines is a good hand (18), but if you split them you have a good chance of getting 2 hands of 19. If you have a pair of tens, you should always stand, because you already have a 20, which can only be improved with an ace. If you have a pair of aces, you should always split because an ace is the most powerful card with which to start a hand.

The above strategy works at online casinos and brick and mortar casinos.

Dealer Up Card Odds

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

To be a good blackjack player, you need to know and understand blackjack basic strategy. Beyond memorizing a simple chart, it is a good idea to know why certain decisions are made. In the past I have posted series of blogs that delve deep into the reasoning behind basic strategy decisions. One of many things that basic strategy takes into account is the probability of busting when drawing a card. This morning, I posted a blog discussing the probability of busting when you (or the dealer) have a certain hand total.

However, one of the difficult things about blackjack is that you don’t know what hand the dealer has. Since the dealer has a hole card face down, you can only guess what his hand is. Luckily, mathematicians a whole lot smarter than me have already calculated the likelihood of the dealer busting based on what his up card is. These statistics are found by determining, based on what up card the dealer has, what hands he is likely to have, and from there determining how likely he is to bust with that hand. A full chart follows.

When looking at these numbers, you may be surprised because the highest hands have the lost bust percentage. That is because the dealer in those cases is likely to have a hand high enough that he would stand rather than drawing again. For example, if the dealer shows a ten-value card, he is not likely to bust because he would stand on a hand of 17-21. If he shows a 10, that means 8 cards (7, 8, 9, 10, J, Q, K, ace) would give the dealer a hand in the 17-21 range and only 5 cards (2, 3, 4, 5, 6) would give him a stiff hand that is likely (31-62%) to bust when he hits.

The following list has 3 numbers. The first is the dealer’s up card. The second number is the dealer’s bust percentage, or the likelihood that the dealer will bust when he has that up card. The third number is the player’s odds when the dealer has that up card. It should be noted that those odds take into account that the player plays perfect strategy. Also, because this doesn’t take into account what hand the player has, the odds will change based on the player’s cards. A percentage in parenthesis means the odds favor the dealer.

Up Card – Dealer Bust % — Player Odds %
2 – 35.3% — 9.8%
3 – 37.56% — 13.4%
4 – 40.28% — 18%
5 – 42.89% – 23.2%
6 – 42.08% – 23.9%
7 – 25.99% — 14.3%
8 – 23.86% — 5.4%
9 – 23.34% — (4.3%)
10 – 21.43% — (16.9%)
Ace – 11.65% — (16%)