Blackjack is one of the most exciting games in the casino so it is natural that it would be one of the most popular online casino games. One of the most appealing parts of playing blackjack is that a player can improve their chances of winning with proper strategy, unlike a game like slots or roulette where luck is the only factor that determines a winning wager versus a losing wager. Blackjack can be a bit intimidating at first but by carefully following the strategy below any player could be raking in virtual chips in no time! In blackjack the player will be dealt two cards face up and the dealer will be dealt two cards, one face up and one face down. Any card 2-9 counts as it’s face value, any 10, Jack, Queen and King counts as 10, and any Ace counts as either 1 or 11. The objective is to get as close to 21 as possible without going over, and the player will completely play their hand before the dealer plays theirs. If a player is dealt 21 in the first two cards (an Ace and a card worth 10) they have hit blackjack and automatically win 1.5 times their bet. If the player doesn’t hit blackjack they will have up to five options:
- Hit. In this case the player is dealt another card and the value of that card is added to the first two. If the player goes over 21 they have busted and lose their bet and the hand.
- Stand. By standing you are accepting your score and allowing the dealer to begin playing their hand. A player cannot bust by standing but they also cannot improve their score.
- Double down. Doubling down allows the player to double his bet and automatically hit. This should be saved for cases when the player has an especially strong starting two cards like a total of 10 or 11, or when the dealer has a very poor starting card like a 5 or a 6.
- Split. The option to split cards only occurs when the player is dealt two of the same cards to start. The player adds an additional bet and splits their cards creating two separate hands and is dealt an additional card to start for each.
- Surrender. Surrender is an option that allows the player to give up on the hand and lose automatically in return for half of their bet. This is beneficial when the player has an especially poor hand like 15 or 16 and the dealer is showing a strong starting card like an Ace or King. Most blackjack games do not allow a surrender option, however, so it will not be taken into consideration below.
Now that the basic rules and options have been established, is an explanation of how to best play specific hands. Hard hands are defined as a hand that does not contain an ace while soft hands are defined as a hand that do contain an ace. This is because a hard hand has a value that does not change while a hand containing an ace can change depending on whether the ace plays as 1 or 11. Situations with a hard hand:
- Holding a hand three to eight you should always hit.
- Holding a nine when the dealer is showing 3 to 6 you should double down. If not, you should hit.
- Holding a ten when the dealer shows 2 to 9 you should double down. If not, you should hit.
- Holding eleven you should double down as long as the dealer isn’t showing an ace.
- Holding 12 you should stand when the dealer shows 4, 5 or 6, and hit if they are showing anything else.
- Holding 13-16 you should hit unless the dealer shows a card between 2 and 6.
- Holding 17, 18, 19 or 20 you should always stand. If you hold 21 you have blackjack!
Situations with a soft hand (holding an Ace):
- Holding an Ace with a 2 or a 3 you should double down when the dealer holds 5 or 6 and hit otherwise.
- Holding an Ace with a 4 or a 5 you should double down when the dealer holds a 4, 5 or 6 and hit otherwise.
- Holding an Ace with a 6 you should double when the dealer holds 3 to 6 and hit otherwise.
- Holding an Ace with a 7 you should stand when the dealer shows 2, 7 or 8, you should double down when the dealer holds 3, 4, 5, 6, and you should hit when the dealer shows anything else.
- Holding an Ace with an 8 or 9 you should always stand.
When to split with a pair (two of the same card):
- Aces or Eights you should always split.
- Fives, Tens, Jacks, Queens and Kings you should never split.
- Twos or Threes you should split if the dealer shows 2 to 7.
- Fours you should split when the dealer has a 5 or a 6.
- Sixes you should split if the dealer shows 2 to 6.
- Sevens you should split when the dealer shows 2 to 7.
- Nines should be split when the dealer shows 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 or 9.