Most hands are played according to strict basic strategy. There are some hands which tempt you to stray from what is the mathematically correct thing to do. These present the player with dilemmas: Do I follow basic strategy or do I follow my gut feeling. You should be aware that the gut is generally wrong. The basic strategy was developed from billions or even trillions of simulations. Therefore you should trust basic strategy. Still, there are hands that are close calls which present dilemmas for the player, and these are discussed below. (Screenshots provided by bovadacasino.lv)
- Doubling Down on an 11 vs Dealer Ace.
This move is correct in single deck play only. Since there are few single deck games that aren’t 6:5 games in Las Vegas, the only place where it correct is in Northern Nevada. There are still 3:2 single deck games there, but they only allow doubling down on 10 and 11. So, if you are playing two or more decks, just hit it.
- Doubling Down on an 11 vs Dealer 10.
Always double down here, regardless of the number of decks in use. I know the dealer 10 is strong, but over the long run, your 11 is stronger.
- Doubling Down on a 10 vs Dealer 9.
This is similar to #2. Your 10 is very strong, and the dealer is weaker. You must double down here.
- Doubling Down 9 vs Dealer 7.
You never do this. The correct move is to hit your 9. The 7 is a weak card for the dealer, even weaker than the dealer 2 up card is some peoples opinion.
Note: Hard doubling is second only to blackjacks in dominoqq profit for the player. I cannot emphasize the importance of doing this right. If you have a weak area, let it be soft doubling or splitting. Know hard doubling cold!
- Splitting Aces vs Dealer 10 or Ace.
The rule, “Always split Aces and eights” isn’t written in stone, but it probably should be. Yes, you could lose twice as much, but the other scenarios are you bust, you lose one and push the other, you win one and lose the other, or you win them both. In the long run (you hear that a lot), you will win more if you split the Aces. It’s a thing of beauty to split them and draw two tens.
- Splitting 9’s vs Dealer 7.
Some people do this and I can see why. The logic is you might get two 19’s. Here’s the better logic. You will win more money if you stand. The dealer will most often have a 17. Your 18 beats the dealer 17. You have a bird in hand. It could fly away, but the odds are it won’t.
- Hitting a 12 vs Dealer 2 or 3.
I know you hate to hit these two. I do too. After all, you could bust if you draw a 10, or if you get a small card, you end up with a stiff hand. All basic strategies say to hit the 12. Only 31% of the cards are 10 value cards, so 69% of the time you will not bust. Keep in mind the dealer is not too disadvantaged, so improving your 12 could be needed.
- Multi-card 15 or 16 value hands.
Once you’ve drawn one or two cards and still have a stiff total, the temptation is to say “enough!”, and stand. What would you do however, if there were only two cards? You would hit them to try to improve them, knowing there is a high likelihood you will bust. You simply have to close your eyes, take a hit, and hope for the best, just like you would if there were only two cards totaling 15 or 16.
- Ace – 6 vs Dealer 7.
Some people play for a push here. They hope the dealer has 17, and they fear screwing up a possible push. Fortunately, soft hands are very forgiving. There are a lot of cards which will improve this hand, and a lot that will do no harm. Even if a card does harm, and worsens the hand, there are still cards which will bail you out. Plus, who’s to say the dealer will only have 17. This is the only 17 you will ever hit, so just do it.
- Ace – 7 vs Dealer 9.
This situation is not unlike the one above, and, just as above, the correct move is to hit the soft 18. There is a good probability the dealer has a 19 or 20, an if so, you’re dead in the water. Again, there are a lot of cards that can improve your hand, and others that do no harm, so try to improve your 18.
You don’t see surrender that often, but when you do, you can take advantage of it. 15s and 16s are such lousy hands, that sometime you just want a refund and start over. With surrender you don’t get a full refund, but you do get half of your money back. That’s the same as winning one hand and losing another. The statistics show that you are slightly better off to surrender these against the dealer 9, 10, and Ace up cards. Also some recommend surrendering 14 vs a dealer Ace. Lastly, some go as far as surrendering a pair of 8’s. Since the split option is available, you can probably bail this hand out if you split them instead. Still, it’s an option.
If there is a point of confusion for the new player, it’s insurance. You’re just playing along, master of the game, all knowing of basic strategy, then all of a sudden you hear that word,” Insurance?” and you suddenly become Forrest Gump. You don’t know what to do. Here’s what to do. Just say no! If you say no every time, you will come out ahead by roughly 7.5%. In Blackjack, that’s a big advantage.
So, you’re just playing along, master of the game, all knowing of basic strategy, and you’re dealt a natural, then all of a sudden you hear that word, “Insurance?” and you suddenly become Forrest Gump again. Well, Forrest, playing Blackjack is like a box of chocolates. There are different ways of looking at the same thing, and only slightly different outcomes. In most of the above situations, if you choose one move over the other, the difference in outcomes is a fraction of a percent. They do add up, so making the right moves all of the time can save you a lot of money. In this one, if you say no to all of the other insurance, but say yes here, it will cost you a minute amount. The right advice is to simply say never take insurance. You can stop reading here, or take just a moment to see how much taking insurance on your blackjacks is going to cost you in the “long run.”
The frequency that you have a blackjack and the dealer has an Ace up card is 0.352%. If you take insurance, you will lose at a rate of 7.5%. If your unit bet is $5.00, to calculate how much you will lose per 100 hands, we multiply 0.075 x 0.352 x $5, which comes out to 13 cents per 100 hands. If you are playing 60 hands per hour, it costs you 7.8 cents per hour if you take even money (same as Insurance) on your blackjacks.
Because I play progressions, I sometimes have a large bet out. If I’m playing a negative progression, I may have a four unit bet out. At that point, I need a win a lot more than I need the blackjack premium or a push. With a blackjack, I have that win in hand. All I have to do is take even money, and I breathe a sigh of relief. If you choose to play a negative progression, you will one day understand my reasoning.
Whether you choose to insure your blackjacks is up to you. Definitely don’t insure the other 95% of your hands when the dealer smiles and asks “Insurance?” The reason for the smile is because insurance is a sucker bet and you, Forrest, are the sucker.