Posts Tagged ‘dealer upcard strategy’

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 3 Card

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

This is the second part in the series on basic strategy that covers what to do based on the dealer’s up card. In this post, we’re looking at when the dealer shows a 3.

If the dealer shows a 3, basic strategy says that he likely has a stiff hand (12-16) due to the likelihood of having a 10 in the hole. For that reason, you should stand if you have a hard 13-16, because those are also stiff hands that have a high probability of busting. If you both bust, you lose, but if only the dealer busts, you win no matter what cards you have.

Therefore, in this situation, it is best to stand pat. If you have a hard 17 or better, you should stand because those are good cards with a low chance of improvement, so you always stand with those hands.

If you have an 8 or lower, you should always hit because there is no risk of busting but your hand isn’t necessarily good enough to win by taking one more card. Therefore, you don’t want o double down. You should also take a hit if you have a 12 versus a dealer 3 up card, because even though it’s a stiff hand, it’s a stiff hand that will only bust if you draw a 10 card, meaning you have a 69% chance of improving your hand. And if the dealer doesn’t bust, your 12 loses.

If you have a hard 9, 10 or 11, you should double down when the dealer has a 3 as an up card. This is because the dealer’s hand is not good (probably a stiff hand) and your cards are awesome. Taking into account your high probability of drawing a 10 card, you have a good chance of having a 19, 20 or 21 when taking one more card. For that reason, combined with the dealer’s likelihood of busting, it is best to double your bet and take one more card.

Now for the soft hands. If you have a soft 13-16, you should take a hit. Unlike with a hard 13-16, there is no risk of busting, so it is a good opportunity to improve your hand without any risk.

If you have a soft 17 or 18, you should double down. Why? Let’s look at the possibilities. If you have a soft 17 (ace, 6), then 4 cards (ace, 2, 3, 4) improve your hand, 5 cards (5, 6, 7, 8, 9) give you a stiff hand, and 4 cards (10, J, Q, K) put you right back where you started: with a hand of 17. That means 62% of the cards will either help you or keep your hand the same while 38% will make your hand worse, but there aren’t any cards that can bust you. Therefore, it’s best to take a chance. You should stand on a soft 19 or better, though, because there aren’t many cards that can help you and you already have a great hand.

Now, let’s talk about the blackjack basic strategy for splitting pairs against a dealer 3 up card. If you have a pair of twos or threes, you should only split if you are allowed to double afterward. If not, take a hit. You should also take a hit with a pair of fours, because you don’t want to start two hands with a four, which are likely to lead to stiff hands. If you have a pair of fives, you should double down, because if you draw a 10 with the next card, you will have a hand of 20, which can only be bested by a dealer 21.

If you have a pair of sixes, sevens, eights or nines, you should split against a dealer 3 up card. A pair of sixes, sevens and eights unsplit are stiff hands (12, 14, 16), whereas if you split them you could end up with hands of 16, 17 and 18. You have better odds with those hands. A hand of 18 is good and hard to pass up, but the odds say you are better off splitting that pair of nines and hoping to draw 2 hands of 19.

As for the other two hands, no matter what card the dealer has, you should never, ever split a pair of tens. That is a hand of 20, which can only be beaten by a 21. I know you think you can split it and get 2 hands of 20, but the risk outweighs the reward when you already have a 20. As for a pair of aces, you always split that, no matter what card the dealer has. An ace is the most powerful card in blackjack, so starting 2 hands with an ace really increases your odds. Which would you rather, a hand of 12, which is a stiff hand, or two soft hands? Always split a pair of aces.

Blackjack Strategy: Dealer 2 Card

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

I have covered blackjack basic strategy in a number of ways. I have written series on what to do with each soft hand, what to do with each pair, when to surrender and more. Now I am starting a new series for teaching basic strategy. I am doing this because I am bored and need something to write about.

Just kidding. Different people learn different ways and since blackjack basic strategy is so important to learn, I want to cover it from every angle. In this series, of which this is the first part, I will cover strategy from the point of view of the dealer’s up card. Based on what card the dealer shows when you are dealt your first cards, I will analyze what to do. Since we will go in order, the first in the series is a dealer 2.

If the dealer shows a 2, basic strategy takes into account the high probability of the dealer having a 12 (since there are more ten-value cards than any other value). Though a 12 is a stiff hand, it is the best of stiff hands (for the person with that hand). If the dealer has a 12, he has a 31% of busting on the next card upon taking a hit. In fact, statistics show that over 35% of the time, the dealer will bust when he has a 2 as the up card, even taking into account the times when the hole card is not a ten. All of that plays into your decision.

If the dealer shows a 2, you should stand if you have a 13-16. Obviously, you always stand with a hard 17-20. You stand with a hard 12-16 because you have a good chance (39%-62%) of busting if you take a hit, so it is best to stand pat and hope the dealer busts.

If you have a 10 or 11, you should double down because of the good chance of drawing a 10 with your next card, which would give you a 20 or 21. Even if you get a lesser card, though, you are likely to have a hand that beats the dealer’s 2.

If you have an 8 or 9, you hit because you have low cards and no chance of busting. If you have a 12, that is a stiff hand, but one with only a 31% chance of busting. It is better to try to improve your hand here, since only a 10 card will bust you.

If you have a soft 13-17, you should take a hit because you can’t bust. If you draw something that would cause you to bust, that simply makes your ace a 1 and gives you a hard hand. With a soft 18 or better, though, you already have a good enough hand that you are more likely to make it worse than better by taking a hit. For that reason, you would stand with a soft 18 or better.

When it comes to pairs, if the dealer shows a 2 you should always split a pair of sevens, eights, nines and aces. Each of those are solids hands to start with. If you have a pair of twos, threes or sixes, you only split if you are allowed to double afterwards. If not, you should take a hit. You should also hit a pair of fours, since one hand of 8 is better than a pair of potential stiff hands with fours. If you have a pair of fives, you should double down, since your next card has a good chance of giving you a 20. If you have a pair of tens, you already have a hand of 20, so you should always stand.