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Blackjack Practice is Your Best Strategy

Before computers proved that Basic Strategy could give players a near-even game of blackjack with the casinos, players had their own way of playing, some of which have proved to be great, but only for the casinos. If you are using anything other than a respected Basic Strategy for blackjack, you are definitely costing yourself money!

The best blackjack odds are offered at Las Vegas Strip casinos and under Atlantic City rules where the dealer stands on a soft 17, players may double down on any two cards and may also double after a split (of up to four hands). Those rules lead to a small house edge of about one-half of one percent when playing perfect basic strategy. Playing other strategies like “Mimic the Dealer” will only hurt you.

With the “Mimic the Dealer” strategy the player does as the dealer does: always hits 16 or less and stands on any 17. The player still doubles and splits, but only as they choose, since they don’t follow basic strategy. This results in a house edge of between 3 and 4%.

When players try the “I Never Bust” strategy, they don’t hit any hand of hard 12 or over, and again, play poor basic strategy. This results in the house holding an even larger edge of between 4 and 5%. That’s just too expensive. Instead, players should set aside some practice time to hone their blackjack skills and make sure they have the best chance of winning!

The Simple Stuff

You already know a bit about Blackjack, like regardless of what the dealer has up, you will always split, double down, or hit until you get at least a hard 12. You also know to hit until you get at least 17 against a dealer 7 through ace showing. You don’t have to practice that.

You probably already know that unless you are counting cards, you might as well forget about taking insurance, it’s a bad bet. And, you probably don’t need to learn surrender rules yet since it is rarely offered. If you happen to run into a game where it is, great! Just surrender anytime you have a hard 15 or 16 and the dealer has an ace or 10 up. That’s the simple stuff.

What you want to practice is recognizing your soft hands (any number of cards with an ace that can be either a one or an eleven, such as Ace-2-4 which is a total of 7 or 17). Soft hands confuse people, so they sometimes make mistakes when doubling down, so remember and practice these rules from basic strategy:

A2 and A3 – Double down against the dealer’s up card of 5 or 6

A4 and A5 – Double down against the dealer’s up card of 4, 5 or 6

A6 – Double against the dealer’s up card of 3, 4, 5 or 6

A7 – Double against the dealer’s up card of 3, 4, 5 or 6. Stand against 2, 7 or 8 and hit against a 9, 10 or ace.

Stand on any Ace-8 or Ace-9 hand.

Deal yourself and a dealer hand from a deck of cards over and over, counting out the totals and repeating to yourself what to do with any soft hand. Get it right before you move on!

Do the Splits

Your simple rules are split aces and 8’s, but practice your basic strategy to gain even more:

Pair of 2’s – Split against the dealer’s up card of 2 through 7

Pair of 3’s – Split against the dealer’s up card of 2 through 7

Pair of 4’s – Don’t split, just hit

Pair of 5’s – Don’t split, hit against the dealer’s up card of ace or 10, otherwise double down

Pair of 6’s – Split against the dealer’s up card of 2 through 6

Pair of 7’s – Split against the dealer’s up card of 2 through 7

Pair of 8’s – Always split, because 16 is a terrible hand

Pair of 9’s – Always split except against the dealer’s up card of 7, 10 or ace

Don’t split your 10’s

Always split your Aces

Now keep dealing hands to a dealer-spot and yourself and practice the splits, over and over until you have each play memorized.

Double the Pleasure, Double the Fun

Restrict your Double Down’s to just three hands: 9’s, 10’s and 11’s. This will be where you make-or-break on many trips to the blackjack tables, so don’t make mistakes! Basic strategy says:

With a 9 – Double against the dealer’s up card of 3 through 6

With a 10 – Double against the dealer’s up card of 2 through 9

With an 11 – Double against the dealer’s up card of 2 through 10

Yes, you have to break-out the deck and keep practicing these rules too. When you can make all of these plays correctly every time, you are set to risk your cash. If you are making mistakes, you are making a mistake with your bankroll. Don’t play until you can play like a robot – the basic strategy kind!

 

 

 

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