Winning at Blackjack – Various Blackjack Strategies for Winning

Blackjack is a game requiring various decisions and to go with the different decisions you have to make, there are various blackjack strategies you can employ to increase your odds of winning. If you play your hand properly, it is estimated that you can reduce the house's edge to less than a percent. To do this, you must first understand basic blackjack strategy and then employ more complicated strategies as you play the game.

Starter Blackjack Strategy
A simple starter strategy for a player who is new to blackjack is a good way to start playing the game. Perhaps it is your first time to play in a casino or online, this will help you out to get going and learn the game.
  
If you receive a hand that equals 12 through 16, you have what is called a "stiff" hand. This means that one hit can cause you to bust because your hand is so high.  The dealer has a stiff hand if they have 2 through 6 showing. If you have a 17 or higher, you have a "pat" hand and you will want to stand.  If the dealer shows a 7 through an Ace, your hand is considered a pat hand.

Now, if you have a stiff and the dealer also has a stiff hand, then you will want to stay. If you have a stiff and the dealer has a pat hand, then you will want to hit. This is a good strategy to get you into the game and begin learning how to play.  


Basic Blackjack Strategy
Basic blackjack strategy is based on math. If you follow this strategy correctly, you are able to reduce the house's edge significantly, by about a half percent.  Minor adjustments can be made to this basic strategy depending on the casino you're playing in.  For instance, some casinos will allow you to double down, even after you have split your hand.  However, not all casinos will allow this.  Some changes may also need to be made depending n if you are playing single deck blackjack or multiple deck blackjack.

It is necessary to understand the basic strategy in blackjack if you want to be successful. If you're preparing for a trip to a casino, you can begin playing blackjack at home online with a basic strategy chart. This chart shows you how to play your first two cards depending on what the dealer has showing.  This chart will help the new player learning the basic strategy. There are a number of variations in blackjack, so there are various charts available that adjust the basic strategy accordingly. Basic strategy cards may also take into account if your game is multiple deck or single deck.  As you play, you will become less reliant on these charts and cards.

Basic strategy can also vary depending on hard hands, soft hands and when you're playing pairs.  As you practice and play, the following will become second nature to you and you won't need to rely on cards to assist you in learning.
Playing Hard Hands

The following is available on basic strategy cards, but this is written as you would interpret the strategy on the card:
If you have a hand of 8 or less, always take a hit.
If you have a hand of 9, double down if the dealer has 3 through 6, otherwise take a hit.
If you have a hand of 10, double down if the dealer shows 2 through 9, otherwise hit.
If you have a hand of 11, double down if the dealer shows 2 through 10, otherwise hit.  This is because if the dealer has an ace, they have to check for blackjack and if they have blackjack then you have already lost the hand if you don't have blackjack.  
If you have a hand of 12, hit if the dealer is showing 2 or 3. Stand if the dealer shows 4 through 6, otherwise hit.
If you have 13 through 16, stand if the dealer is showing 2 through 6, otherwise take a hit.
If you have 17 through 21, always stand.


Playing Soft Hands
A soft hand is when you have an ace in your hand and your hand can change value depending on the decision you make.  The following is the basic strategy for playing these hands:

If you have Ace 2 or Ace 3, then double down if the dealer has 5 or 6, otherwise take a hit.
If you have Ace 4 or Ace 5, then double down if the dealer has 4 through 6, otherwise hit.
If you have Ace 6, then double down if the dealer shows 3 through 6, otherwise hit.
If you have Ace 7, stay if the dealer shows 2, 7 or 8. Double down if the dealer shows 3 through 6, otherwise hit.
If you have Ace 8 or Ace 9, always stand.


Playing Pairs
Always split if you have a pair of Aces or 8s.
Split if the dealer shows 2 through 7 if you have a pair of 2s or 3s, otherwise hit.
Split if the dealer shows 5 through 6 if you have a pair of 4s, otherwise hit.
Double down if the dealer shows 2 through 9 and you have a pair of 5s, otherwise hit.
Split if the dealer shows 2 through 6 if you have a pair of 6s, otherwise hit.
If you have a pair of sevens, split if the dealer shows 2 through 7, otherwise hit.
Split if the dealer shows 2 through 6, and 8 or 9, and you have a pair of 9s.  Stand if the dealer shows 7, 10 or an Ace.
Always stand on a pair of 10s.  

This is just the basic strategy for blackjack. There are several variances that occur when you're playing and depending on where you're playing.  Your plays may also be affected by other people at the table as well. If someone is playing recklessly, it is best to not stay at that table as it can have a bad effect on your strategy.

If you are dealt a pair of cards that have the same value, then you are able to split these cards into two hands. The majority of the casinos will allow you to split on any pair.  You must also place an additional bet that is equal to your starting bet. If you want to split, the dealer will split your cards and place your bet where it belongs. The dealer then deals two more cards to go with your cards, so now you are basically playing two separate hands. You are able to decide whether you want to hit or stay on each of these hands.  


Insurance
As stated before, when a dealer is showing an Ace, they must check to see if they have a blackjack. But, they must first offer insurance.  Insurance is not really insuring your hand, but you are making an additional wager that is half of your original bet that the dealer has a ten under the Ace.  If you make this bet, you are paid 2 to 1.  However, if they do not have a 10 then you lose both bets. If you have a blackjack and the dealer has an Ace, you will be asked if you want "even money" instead of the 3-2 payout. If you do not take even money, you will have a push if the dealer also has a blackjack. Both of insurance and even money bets are considered sucker bets and most players do not wager these.


Surrender
Some casinos allow what is called a surrender. This is when the player surrenders their hand and gives up half of their bet on their first two cards after the dealer checks for blackjack. This is not common in most casinos. This can be played to your advantage in some situations, but many players tend to get overzealous with this option and ends up losing the gain you would have otherwise received if played properly.

 
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