Posts Tagged ‘doubling down strategy’

Double Down Strategy: Soft 18

Friday, March 26th, 2010

Knowing when to double down is an important part of blackjack basic strategy and doing it correctly can help you take advantage of your good hands and make up for the losses on your bad hands. The strategy is different depending on what hand you have and what cards the dealer shows, though. Here is what to do if you have a soft 18 with your first two cards (ace, seven).

If you are dealt a soft 18, you should double down if the dealer shows a three through a six as an up card. If the dealer shows a two, seven or eight, you should stand. If the dealer shows anything else (9, 10, ace), you should hit.

When trying to understand why you would make these decisions, keep in mind that blackjack basic strategy takes into account that there are more cards with a value of 10 than any other value. Therefore, it is playing the odds to plan on the drawing a 10 and the dealer having a 10 in the hole.

The reason you should double down if the dealer shows a three through a six is that, assuming a 10 in the hole, the dealer is likely to have a 13-16, which are stiff hands. With those hands, the dealer is likely to bust. How likely? Well, let’s look at it one hand at a time.

If the dealer has a hard 13, only five cards (4, 5, 6, 7, 8 ) will help his hand, five cards (9, 10, J, Q, K) will bust him and three cards (ace, 2, 3) will leave him with another stiff hand (14-16). If the dealer has a hard 14, only five cards (3, 4, 5, 6, 7) will improve his hand, six cards (8, 9, 10, J, Q, K) will bust him and two cards (ace, 2) will leave him with another stiff hand (15-16). If the dealer has a hard 15, only five cards (2, 3, 4, 5, 6) will improve his hand, seven cards (7, 8, 9, 10, J, Q, K) will make him bust and one card (ace) will leave him with another stiff hand (16). Finally, if the dealer has a hard 16, only five cards (ace, 2, 3, 4, 5) will improve his hand, while eight cards (6, 7, 8, 9, 10, J, Q, K) will bust him. Therefore, each of those hands has 8/13 odds that the dealer will either bust or draw another stiff hand, where he again has to draw against 8/13 odds.

The reason you hit if the dealer has a 9, 10 or ace is that you have to assume that the dealer has a good chance of having a 19-21. Each of those hands beats your hand of 18. You never hit a hard 18 because of the high likelihood of busting, but hitting a soft 18 is risk-free because you can’t bust.

If the dealer shows a seven or eight, there is a good chance that he has a hand that is lower than your hand of 18. If the dealer shows a seven, no hole card can give the dealer a hand that will beat your 18. Only an ace in the hole can tie you. If the dealer has a 10 (10, J, Q, K) in the hole then you beat his 17. Again, due to the high likelihood of a 10, it is best to stand pat with your 18. If the dealer shows an eight, only an ace in the hole can beat you and a 10 in the hole can tie you. Everything else gives him a lower hand. For that reason, it’s not worth hitting and possibly lowering the value of your hand.

If the dealer shows a two, you have to assume a high probability of him having a 12. If the dealer has a hard 12, he has to hit. Once he hits, only three cards (7, 8, 9) can beat your hand of 18, four cards (10, J, Q, K) will cause him to bust, and five cards cards (ace, 2, 3, 4, 5) that will give him a hand lower than yours. Because the odds are against the dealer beating your 18 but not great that he will bust, you don’t want to draw another card. It is best to stand in this situation.

Double Down Strategy: Soft 17

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

Blackjack basic strategy can reduce the house edge to a slight 0.5% over time, but only if you follow it perfectly and make the correct decisions. That includes not only when to hit and when to stand, which most new blackjack players learn right away, but also when to double and split, among other decisions. In this series we are analyzing the reasons for the doubling down strategy. In today’s blog, I’m covering what to do when you have a soft 17.

If you are dealt a soft 17 with your first two cards (ace, 6), you should double down if the dealer shows a three through six as an upcard. If the dealer shows anything else, you should hit. You should never stand with a soft 17, because it is only an average hand and there is no risk of busting if you try to improve your hand.

Blackjack basic strategy takes into account that there are more cards in a deck with a value of 10 than any other value. Therefore, the odds are with the dealer having a 10 in the hole and a 10 being drawn when you or the dealer hit.

Taking that into account, if the dealer shows a three though a six, he is likely to have a 13-16. These are stiff hands that are likely to bust. If the dealer has a hard 13, there are only five cards (4, 5, 6, 7, 8 ) that will help his hand, five cards (9, 10, J, Q, K) that will bust him and three cards (ace, 2, 3) that will leave him with another stiff hand (14-16). If the dealer has a hard 14, there are only five cards (3, 4, 5, 6, 7) that will improve his hand, six cards (8, 9, 10, J, Q, K) that will bust him and two cards (ace, 2) that will leave him with another stiff hand (15-16). If the dealer has a hard 15, there are only five cards (2, 3, 4, 5, 6) that will improve his hand, seven cards (7, 8, 9, 10, J, Q, K) that will make him bust and one card (ace) that will leave him with another stiff hand (16). Finally, if the dealer has a hard 16, only five cards (ace, 2, 3, 4, 5) will improve his hand, while eight cards (6, 7, 8, 9, 10, J, Q, K) will bust him.

Therefore, with each of these hands there are 8/13 odds against the dealer – odds that he will either bust or draw a stiff hand. What about your soft 17, though? What happens when you take another card? When you hit a soft 17, there are four cards (ace, 2, 3, 4) that will improve your hand. The other nine cards will leave you with a lower total than you started, after your ace is turned from an 11 to a one. For that reason, there are 9/13 odds that after you take a card, you will want to take another one.

However, if you double down you can only take one card and cannot hit again. For that reason, you should only double down on hands when you think the dealer is going to bust, which includes any of the stiff hands (13-16). In this case, you’re not doubling because you think you’ll end up with a great hand by taking another card. You’re doubling because if the dealer busts, you win even with a bad hand.

Blackjack basic strategy works both in brick and mortar casino and in online casinos.

Double Down Strategy: Soft 16

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Blackjack basic strategy seems like a lot to remember at first, but it really isn’t that bad because there are reasons behind every decision. Not only that, if you look at the chart, there are a lot of parts that can be grouped together – strategy that is the same for different hands. Such is the case with doubling soft hands. The strategy for soft 13 is the same as for a soft 14. Likewise, doubling strategy for a soft 15 is the same as for a soft 16, which is what I am covering now.

If you have a soft 16 (ace, five), you want to double down if the dealer shows a four, five or six. If the dealer shows anything else as an up card, you should take a hit. There is no reason to stand with a soft 16 because it’s not a good hand and there is no risk of busting.

As always, basic strategy takes into account that there are more cards in a deck with a value of ten than any other value. Therefore, if the dealer shows a 4-6, he has a good chance of having a 14-16, which are stiff hands that are likely of busting. If the dealer busts, you win no matter what cards you have, unless you also bust. For that reason, times when the dealer has a high probability of busting are good times to double down because you will win more money.

So how likely is the dealer to bust on these hands? In short: very. If the dealer has a hard 14, only five cards (3, 4, 5, 6, 7) will improve his hand, six cards (8, 9, 10, J, Q, K) will bust him and two cards (ace, 2) will leave him with another stiff hand, where he has to draw again and has a good chance of busting. If the dealer has a hard 15, there are only five cards (2, 3, 4, 5, 6) that will improve his hand, seven cards (7, 8, 9, 10, J, Q, K) that will make him bust and one card (ace) that will leave him with another stiff hand. If the dealer has a hard 16, only five cards (ace, 2, 3, 4, 5) will improve his hand, while eight cards (6, 7, 8, 9, 10, J, Q, K) will bust him. Therefore, with any of those three hands, there are 8/13 odds against the dealer.

If the dealer has anything else, it is best to simply take a hit rather than doubling, even if the dealer has a 12 or 13, which are also stiff hands. The reason for this is that if you double down, you can only take one card. One of the benefits of a soft hand is that you can hit over and over without risk of busting. Doubling down takes away that benefit. Therefore, you should only double with a soft hand if there is a high probability of the dealer busting. Any hand that you might have to actually beat you want to play by hitting.

Blackjack basic strategy, including doubling down strategy, works for both brick and mortar casinos and online casinos.

Double Down Strategy: Soft 15

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

Knowing when to double down is an important part of blackjack basic strategy because it allows you to make more money on the good hands and make up for some of your bad hands. Doubling at the wrong time or not doubling when you should, though, will cost you money in the long run. That is why I’m writing a comprehensive guide for doubling down strategy. This part of the series covers what to do when you have a soft 15 (ace, four).

If you have a soft 15, whether or not you double depends on what up cards the dealer is showing. If the dealer shows a four, five or six, you should double down. If the dealer shows anything else, you should hit. You should never stand with a soft 15 because 15 is a bad hand and you have no risk of busting.

Blackjack basic strategy takes into account that there are more cards with a value of 10 (4/13) than any other value (1/13 each). Therefore, the odds are that the dealer’s hole card is a 10 and any cards drawn will have a value of 10. Obviously, this doesn’t always happen, since there are 9/13 odds against it, but in the long run taking advantage of the high number of tens is good strategy.

For that reason, if the dealer shows a four, five or six, you should assume the high probability of the dealer having a hand of 14, 15 or 16. Those are all stiff hands (12-16), which are very bad because of the high probability of busting. The dealer does not have the option of standing on a stiff hand, though, so he must take a hit. If the dealer busts, you win no matter what cards you have (as long as you don’t also bust). For that reason, doubling your bet when the odds are with the dealer busting makes sense. Let’s look at each of the hands.

If the dealer has a hard 14, there are only five cards (3, 4, 5, 6, 7) that will improve his hand, six cards (8, 9, 10, J, Q, K) that will cause him to bust, and two cards (ace, 2) that will leave him with another stiff hand. If the dealer has a hand of 15, only five 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 the dealer draws an ace, that gives him a hand of 16, which is another stiff hand. If the dealer has a hand of 16, only five cards (ace, 2, 3, 4, 5) will improve his hand, while eight cards (6, 7, 8, 9, 10, J, Q, K) will cause him to bust. Looking at it that way, if the dealer has a hand of 14, 15 or 16 he has 8/13 odds against him.

If the dealer has a hard 12 or 13, he still has a stiff hand, but is less likely to bust than with a 14-16. If the dealer doesn’t bust, you need to beat his hand. If you double down, you only get one more card. If you have a soft 15 and double, there are eight cards (ace, 7, 8, 9, 10, J, Q, K) that would leave you with a total below 16. There are five cards (2, 3, 4, 5, 6) that would give you a hand of 17 or greater. However, two of those cards (2, 3) would leave you with a soft hand that you would normally hit against a dealer 14-16. If you double, though, you cannot hit again.

Therefore, doubling a soft 15 results in 7/13 odds that, if the dealer doesn’t bust, you would wish you could hit again. For that reason, you only want to double your wager if the dealer has 8/13 odds against him, as is the case with a hand of 14-16.

Double Down Strategy: Soft 13

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

After a good weekend off, I am now continuing the ongoing series on doubling down strategy for blackjack. I have already covered the basic strategy for doubling hands of nine, 10 and 11. In this post I will discuss the strategy for a soft 13. It should be noted that you will never double a hard 12-21, which is why those hands aren’t being covered in this series.

If you have a soft thirteen (ace, two), whether or not you should double depends on the dealer’s up card. If the dealer shows a five or six, you should double. If the dealer shows anything else, you should take a hit. You should never stand on a soft 13.

As always, blackjack basic strategy takes into account that there are more cards with a value of 10 (4/13) than any other value (1/13 each). For that reason, basic strategy plays off the probability of a the dealer having a 10 in the hole and you or the dealer drawing a 10. Therefore, if the dealer shows a five or six, he has a good chance of having a 15 or 16, which are not only stiff hands (12-16), but the two worst hands in blackjack. Why are they so bad?

The dealer doesn’t have the option of standing on a stiff hand, so he has to hit. If he does, his chances of busting are very good. If the dealer has a hand of 15, only five 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 the dealer draws an ace, that gives him a hand of 16, which is another stiff hand. If the dealer has a hand of 16, only five cards (ace, 2, 3, 4, 5) will improve his hand, while eight cards (6, 7, 8, 9, 10, J, Q, K) will cause him to bust. That means with both hands, when the dealer hits he has 8/13 odds against him. Since you have a soft hand, you don’t have to worry about busting. For that reason, it is best to double your bet so you make more money on the high likelihood of winning.

Even though hands of 12, 13 and 14 are also stiff hands, you don’t want to double down if the dealer shows a two, three or four. That is because, though the dealer still has a good chance of busting, the odds of him doing so are not as high. Also, one of the advantages of a soft hand is that you can be more aggressive when hitting in an attempt to improve your hand, since there is no possibility of busting. However, if you double down then you can only receive one more card. If you receive a card that doesn’t help your hand, you can only hope the dealer busts and you basically lose the advantage of your 13 being a soft hand rather than a hard 13.

Or look at it this way: If the dealer busts it doesn’t matter what hand you have. If he doesn’t, however, you need to use that soft hand to your advantage to draw a good hand. If you have a soft 13, that means five cards (4, 5, 6, 7, 8 ) can help you and 8 cards (ace, 2, 3, 9, 10, J, Q, K) give you a stiff hand. What that means is that if you have a soft 13, 8/13 of the cards you could draw would make you want to draw another card if you were to follow basic strategy. If you double down, though, you are unable to do so.

Therefore, you should only double down on the two hands (15, 16) where the dealer has the highest probability of busting. That is why the proper strategy for a soft 13 is to double down if the dealer shows a five or six and hit on any other hand.