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Blackjack tips for hard totals

Blackjack is the most popular table game in casinos across the world today, largely because it is the only game in which a measure of skill can come into play to reduce the house edge.

 Although the house retains the edge over the long term, it can be reduced to less than 1% by a player who has the patience and the concentration to employ good blackjack strategy. The payout and the long term edge make blackjack the only option among casinos where profit is possible even when a player plays for a while, thus it is more popular than all other table games combined. Here are some ways to increase your chances of a good night in blackjack when you have a hand that does not include an ace (a hard total).

1) Pass on insurance! A dealer will usually encourage players with a blackjack to take insurance when the dealer turns up an ace as the first card. Players, of course, will automatically realize that there are a lot of cards that total ten in any deck, and assume that the odds of one of these cards turning up is greater than any other card. What you have to keep in mind here is that there are actually more cards that to not equal ten in a deck than there are that do; only 30.8 percent of cards have a ten value. Insurance is only an even bet if 33.3 percent of the cards in the deck could be ten point values. The only way this is a good percentage bet is if you have been counting the cards and know that there is a large concentration of ten value cards left in the deck.

2) Doubling down on hard total. You should double your bet in three different circumstances when you have a hard total (you have no ace in your hand). If you’re holding a nine and the dealer shows 3-6, when you’re holding a 10 and the dealer is showing anything from 2 to 9, or if you have 11 and the dealer shows 2 through ten.

3) Hitting on a hard total. There are several scenarios where you should hit on a hard total. Take a look at the double down scenarios above; it’s time to hit when the you are holding one of the totals that are listed above, and the dealer shows one of the cards that are not included in the double down scenario. For example, if you are holding nine and the dealer shows a 2 or 7, hit. If you’re holding 11 and the dealer shows an ace, hit, and so on. You will also want to hit any time you have 8 or lower, regardless of what the dealer shows. Hit if you have 12 and the dealer has 2,3, or 7 and above, and if you have 13-16 and the dealer shows 7 and above.

4) Standing. If you’re like a lot of blackjack players, you’ll want to stand on a 16 or higher. The magic number for standing, though, is 17, not 16 if you want to buck the house edge. If a dealer is showing a 7 or higher, he will beat that 16 almost 80 percent of the time. If you’re holding 13 to 16, only stand if the dealer is showing lower than seven. If you’re holding 12 and the dealer is showing 4 through 6, stand. And stand if you’re holding 17 to 21, no matter what the dealer is showing.

This is part of the basic strategy to use when playing blackjack and will help to greatly reduce the house edge. Other strategies don’t work nearly as well when it comes to making money off the house in the long term.


Published on 06/30/2007

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