Posts Tagged ‘dealer up card strategy’

Blackjack Strategy: Dealer Ace

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

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.

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 8 Card

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

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.

Blackjack Strategy: Dealer 7 Card

Friday, June 4th, 2010

If you want to reduce the house edge in blackjack to a manageable level, you need to learn and stick to blackjack basic strategy. This strategy works in online casinos as well as the brick and mortar variety. Here is the basic strategy for when the dealer shows a 7 as the up card.

If the dealer shows a 7 as an up card, he has a good chance of having a hand of 17, 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 a 17, 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 a 7, 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 7. 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 7 up card. I’m sorry to say that you have a stiff hand. Those hands are likely to bust but they are too low to outdraw the dealer. In fact, you can only win if the dealer busts. When the dealer has a 7 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 7 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 7 up card. If the dealer has a 17, you would win with an 18 or better, so there is no reason to risking drawing a card that reduces the value of your hand.

When it comes to pair splitting, the strategy against a dealer 7 up card is more conservative than for the previously discussed hands. That is because of the lower odds of the dealer busting. With a pair of twos, threes or fours, you should take a hit. You don’t want to split the pairs and risk having two stiff hands against a 17. If you have a pair of fives, you should double down because you have a good chance of drawing a 20 with your next card.

You should hit a pair of sixes against a dealer 7 up card, because splitting could potentially give you two stiff hands instead of one. You should split a pair of sevens or eights because as is they are stiff hands (14, 16), but if you split them you have a good chance of having two much better hands (17, 18).

You should not split a pair of nines against a dealer 7 up card because an 18 is already a good hand and would beat a 17. You should never split a pair of tens, no matter what card the dealer has, because you already have a hand of 20. Finally, of course, you always split a pair of aces, since it’s the best card with which to start a hand. That is because it gives you a soft hand and a chance of drawing a natural blackjack (ace, 10).

Remember this strategy the next time you play a game of online blackjack.

Blackjack Strategy: Dealer 5 Card

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

Whether you are playing blackjack at an online casino or the brick and mortar variety, you need to know basic strategy to have success. If you stick with blackjack basic strategy, you can lower the house edge to 0.5%. This is the fourth part in a series covering basic strategy based on the up card that the dealer shows.

If the dealer has a 5 as the up card, he has a good chance of having a stiff hand (12-16). In fact, drawing any card that has a value of 7 or better would give him a stiff hand, which is likely to bust. That knowledge influences your decisions when you follow basic strategy.

If you have a hand of 8 or lower, you will always hit no matter what card the dealer has because there is no risk of busting but your hand isn’t particularly good, either. If you have a hand of 9, 10 or 11 versus a dealer 5 up card, you should double down. That is because there are more cards with a value of 10 than any other value. With those hands, you have a good chance of drawing a 19, 20 or 21 with your next card. Combine that with the high probability of the dealer busting and you have good reason to double your bet.

If you have a hard 12-16, you should stand when the dealer shows a 5. That is because you have a stiff hand that is likely to bust and there’s a good chance that the dealer has a stiff hand as well. If you both bust, you lose, so the best play is to stand and hope the dealer busts. You should always stand with a hard 17 or better no matter what card the dealer has because you have a good hand that is more likely to bust than to be improved.

Soft hands are a little different. If you have a soft 13-18, you should double down versus a dealer 5 up card. In this situation you’re not doubling because your hand is good, you’re doubling because the dealer’s hand is bad and you’re protected against busting. If the dealer has a 15, there are only 5 cards (2, 3, 4, 5, 6) will improve his hand, while seven cards (7, 8, 9, 10, J, Q, K) will cause him to bust. If your hands of 13-18 were hard hands, you wouldn’t double because of the high chance that you can bust yourself. However, because you can’t bust with a soft hand, that risk is taken away. Basically, here you are doubling because of the likelihood of the dealer busting.

If you have a soft 19 or better, though, you should stand because even though you can’t bust, there are more cards that would weaken your hand than improve it. Also, if the dealer doesn’t bust, you still have a good chance of outdrawing him with a 19 or better.

If you have a pair of twos or threes, you should split against a dealer 5 up card. Again, this is not because starting a hand with 2 or 3 is good; it is because the dealer has a good chance of busting so you are taking the opportunity to double your bet while still getting to draw more than one card if you need to (unlike when you double down). With a pair of fours, you should split if you have the option of doubling after splitting. If not, you should hit.

If you have a pair of fives, you should double down. You should never split a pair of fives, no matter what hand the dealer has. Assuming the likelihood of drawing a 10 when you take a hit, splitting fives means you have a good chance of having two hands of 15, which are stiff hands. Doubling your hand of 10, though, gives you a good chance of having a hand of 20, which can only be beaten by a 21.

If you have a pair of sixes through nines, you should split against a dealer 5 up card. For 6, 7 and 8, by splitting you are breaking up a stiff hand. While having a hand of 18 is good, two hands of 19 is better, and you have a chance for that if you split the pair of nines.

You should never split a pair of tens no matter what, since you already have a hand of 20, and you should always split a pair of aces, no matter what. An ace is the most powerful card in blackjack because it gives you a shot at a natural blackjack (ace, 10) and a stiff hand.

Remember that this strategy applies whether you are playing online blackjack or blackjack at a land-based casino.