Advanced Blackjack Strategy Explained
There’s a reason why blackjack is the most popular table game at the casino: It’s a simple game that anyone can figure out. Most people in the “Western” world have grown up with a deck of cards in their hand, learning the rules of blackjack and other games from their parents and grandparents. Making the leap from home games to full-on casino blackjack is a piece of cake with our advanced blackjack strategy.
Actually mastering the game of blackjack requires a bit more effort; however, it takes only a few minutes to learn the basics behind a solid and advanced blackjack strategy. We’ll show you how to apply some quick and easy rules to get the most out of your blackjack sessions at Bodog Casino. These will be simplified rules, rather than the complete optimal strategy for blackjack, but this approach will also help explain the more “advanced” parts of blackjack strategy that you can work on as you get better at the game.
1. Identify Whether the Dealer’s Up-Card is High or Low
As you know, the general idea behind online blackjack is to get as close to 21 points as possible without going over. But all you really need to win is a better hand than the dealer’s.
Anytime the dealer’s up-card (the one that’s dealt face-up so everyone can see) is a Six or lower, it’s guaranteed that the dealer will have to draw two cards – unless you’re playing a variant where they have to stand on Soft 17 (Ace-Six). Otherwise, that low up-card means the dealer is in serious danger of going bust.
Whenever you see the dealer showing that low card, you should stand anytime you’re dealt a “hard” hand (meaning no Ace) that’s worth at least 12 points. Yes, standing on 12 is correct here; instead of risking a bust by drawing a 10-value card, you should pass that risk onto the dealer.
2. Never Split Fours, Fives or Tens; Always Split Eights and Aces
Of all the more advanced blackjack strategy tips, splitting pairs is the easiest to get right. For example, you never want to split Tens, because you already have 20 in your hand. A pair of Fours is eight points, and a pair of Fives is 10, so you’ve got a very good chance of making at least 18 by simply choosing to draw another card.
On the flip side, a pair of Eights is 16 points, which is a tricky hand to deal with compared to having eight points twice. And splitting a pair of Aces gives you two excellent shots at making 21.
For all the other pairs (Nines, Sevens, Sixes, Threes and Deuces), split them if the dealer’s up-card is low, and don’t split them if it’s high – treat your cards as you would any other hand with that many points in it.
3. Always Hit Your Lowest Hands
This should be obvious to even the newest blackjack players, but where is the cut-off point? If you’ve been dealt a hard hand, anything eight points or worse is a hit; if you’ve got a soft hand, hit again if you’ve got 13-15 points.
The other times to hit are when the dealer is showing a high up-card (Seven through Ace). Do this with hard hands up to 16 points inclusive, and soft hands up to 18 points.
4. Double Sparingly
The “double down” is one of the most exciting plays in blackjack. With this advanced play, you’re doubling your bet and receiving exactly one more card – that’s all. It’s a powerful play, but it should be reserved for a small handful of cases.
For beginners, we recommend doubling in these three situations only:
– You have Hard 9, dealer has low up-card
– You have Hard 10-11, and more points than dealer
– You have Soft 16-18, dealer has low up-card
When it comes time to learn the optimal blackjack strategy (aka the “basic” strategy), you’ll find more opportunities to double down, but stick to these three situations for now until you’ve learned the ropes.
5. Surrender 16 to Dealer’s 10
The surrender play is somewhat more advanced, but this is advanced blackjack strategy after all. You can get by reasonably well without learning it, but this is the best way for newer players to get acquainted with this rule. After you’ve been dealt your two hole cards, you have the option to surrender, meaning you forfeit your hand and half the bet. This is the only time in the hand you can make this play.
There are a lot of subtleties to the surrender, and not every blackjack variant includes it, but for your simplified strategy, use this move anytime you’re dealt a 16 and the dealer is showing a 10-value card. This scenario is so bad for you that it’s worth taking back half your bet and starting over.
6. Never Take Insurance
Now that we’ve covered hitting, standing, splitting, doubling and surrendering, there’s only one move left in blackjack: taking insurance. And as you can see, we’re suggesting you never make this play.
The insurance bet is a side bet that you can take at the start of the hand, provided the dealer’s up-card is an Ace. Your insurance bet can be up to half your current wager; if you place the bet and the dealer turns out to have blackjack, you get paid 2-to-1.
Mathematically speaking, this reward isn’t worth the risk, since the dealer will have blackjack less than one-third of the time. Some players take insurance anyway when they themselves have blackjack, which ensures they’ll get at least some kind of payout rather than risk a push, but again, you’ll win less money in the long run.
With these six tips in mind, you’ll be able to make the best play possible in nearly every situation you encounter. If you want to learn all of the exceptions to these rules and perfect your strategy, check out the other blackjack articles we have for you here at Bodog Casino, and we’ll see you at the tables.