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best blackjack strategy

There are two basic elements to simple blackjack strategy.  The first is hard to do so we encourage all blackjack players to do this to the best of your ability.  This basic element is, of course, counting cards.  Even if you can’t keep up with the count all the time, counting will give you a lot better chance to even the odds with the house.

The second basic element of blackjack strategy is that it is very intuitive.  That means that it is fairly straightforward and obvious.  For example, neophytes always stand with 12 points.  This is not good strategy against every one of the dealer’s possible up cards.  Another obvious strategy is to double down with 11. 

Many gamers get mixed up, confused, and flummoxed when they get unusual hands that don’t easily fit into an obvious strategy.  We say that Springbok is the best online casino for South Africa because we want to help you win!   We understand that you can play at any online casino.  That’s why we do everything we can to make online casino gaming as good for you as it can be.

What Should I Do with Soft Hands?

A soft hand in cosmetics is a hand that needs little if any hand cream.  A soft hand in blackjack is a hand with an ace that presents a dilemma of sorts.  A soft 21 is blackjack; no problem there.  A soft 20 is a powerful hand; no difficulty standing in this case.  A soft 16 or less is also a no brainer: always hit.

So, the counter-intuitivity shows up when you have a soft, 17, 18, or 19.  It pays to understand that soft 17 and 18 are not good hands for the player.  That’s why many statisticians of blackjack tell players to play at games that make the dealer stand with soft 17.  The fact is that a soft 17 hand often improves.

Soft 18 is still 18 and 18 is a losing hand more often than a winning hand.  Eighteen points in the player’s hand is the most overrated point count in blackjack.  So hit with soft 18. 

Soft 19 is a strong hand and the best strategy is to stand with soft 19.

Splitting Eights or Nines

Everyone understands splitting eights: 16 points is a horrible holding for the player.  If you hit, you will lose far more than you’ll win.  However, many players think that it’s a losing proposition to split eights against a 10 point or a 9 point card.  Even in these cases, the odds are better for winning with one of the split eights or with both than the very bad odds of winning with 16 points.

Splitting simply and powerfully takes you from having a very week hand to having a middling start to a hand.  With one eight, you can get to 18 or more, you can get a 2 or a 3 which you will double down with.  It’s true that the dealer has a better starting hand but the dealer’s chances of winning are about twice as great if you don’t double down than if you do.  In short, doubling down eights is not the same as throwing good money after bad. 

Splitting nines is even more counter-intuitive for many players.  If the dealer shows a 10 point card, your nines might turn into 19 points and lose to 20 or 21 points.  If the dealer is showing 8 or less, it’s an obvious play to split the nines. Players get thrown when they have two nines and the dealer also shows a nine.

In that case, many players feel that splitting the nines will at best give you a push on one or both of the nines.  In fact, that does happen fairly often.  However, if you don’t split the nines, you’ll lose often with 18 points.  As the classic saying goes, close is only good in horseshoes.

At this point, it’s important to point out that you should always play at a game that allows you to re-split and to double down after splitting.  This gives you an extra bit of advantage over the house.  That’s why many casinos or tables don’t allow re-splitting or doubling down after splitting.

If you split nines, it’s even better to split nines again if you get another nine.  Similarly, if you get a 2 with a split nine, you have a much stronger hand than if you hold 18, but this is true only if you’re playing at a game that allows doubling down after splitting.

Always Double Down with Eleven Points

The last of the counter-intuitive hands is when you have 11 points and the dealer has a 10 point card.  Many players get cold feet when they see that the dealer has 10 points showing.  First of all, if you have been counting cards, you have good idea whether the next card is likely to be high or low.  But even if you think that the next card will be low, you should double down.

Let’s say that you hit with eleven points and the dealer shows 10 points.  If the card is low, you get to the mid-teens in points and the dealer still has many ways to beat you.  But the dealer will have 20 points only 16 out of 48 times or once in three hands.  That means that doubling down with 11 points gives you the edge in two out of every three hands.

Many players offer the argument that even if the dealer doesn’t get 20 points, she can get 18, 19, or 21 points.  All true.  And so can the player!  In fact, it is a bit more likely that the player will improve to a winning hand than that the dealer will improve to a winning hand and all those “little bits” of edge contribute to getting players even with the house in terms of the odds of winning.

Blackjack is a Long Haul Game

The discussions about hands that many players have a hard time understanding demonstrate that the best blackjack strategy works over a long playing time.  It may cover several gaming sessions.  You might lose in one session and win in the nest two sessions.  The key is to keep your senses about you and make the best play even when it seems counter-intuitive.