There’s something comforting about the game of blackjack. If you’ve ever had a weekend in Las Vegas, and felt a little out of your depth, the blackjack table is like a refuge of safety and familiarity. OK, so that might be as much down to the winning smile of the dealer, but blackjack is a game we all know. We probably learned to play it at about the age of five, and part of the joy of the game is that it is something kids can pick up in no time, even with 2019 attention spans.
Nothing could be simpler than a game of blackjack, right? Well, sort of. Play at a five year old’s level and you’ll have a good time and beat the dealer from time to time. But start dipping into what is called basic strategy and you open up Pandora’s box to a whole new world of possibilities. So next time you face the dealer, whether it’s in Vegas at the Golden Nugget on online at https://www.winningroom.com/en, keep these little strategy tips in mind and you’ll be amazed at how much your “luck” improves.
Hit or stand?
It’s the most basic question in blackjack, so let’s cover this first. As with most aspects of blackjack strategy, you can go basic or a little more advanced. For example, the decision on whether to hit or stand can depend on more than just what your hand is worth, but also on its composition. For example, whether you have a soft or hard hand (ie whether it includes an ace) can make a difference to the probabilities.
However, we said we would keep it simple, so here’s how to decide whether to hit or stand. The first thing to keep in mind is a conceptual point, in that you are as interested in the dealer’s upcard as you are in your own hand. If she has seven or higher (including Ace) then basic strategy says hit for anything up to and including 16. If she is showing six or lower, then stand on 12 or higher.
What about splitting?
Even when playing just basic strategy, there is one compositional element you will need to think about. It is always easy to spot novice blackjack players, as they tend to either split or not almost at random – but usually they split. Again, there is a simple rule here, and again, it depends on the dealer’s upcard.
Eights and aces should always be split, while fours, fives or tens should never be split. As for the rest, that’s twos, threes, sixes, sevens or nines, split them if the dealer has seven or lower, otherwise do not.
Should you double down?
There are more cards worth 10 in the pack than anything else, so if you are dealt nine, ten or eleven, it is worth considering the double down. If you are dealt eleven, always double down, as you have a great chance of scoring 21. If you are dealt a nine or ten, then only double down if the dealer is showing four, five or six.