There are several strategies to keep in mind when playing Blackjack. They are: surrendering your hand, taking a hit, standing pat, splitting a pair and doubling down. One thing to remember though is don’t place the insurance bet; the odds work in the houses favor, not the players.
Surrendering your hand – This option is offered at most casinos. There are 2 variations to surrender – early and late. If you surrender early, you are surrendering before the dealer has a chance to check for blackjack. If you surrender late, you are surrendering after the dealer has checked for blackjack. Both scenarios have you throwing in your hand and losing half your initial bet. Only surrender when your hand is hopeless.
Taking a Hit – You take a hit when the count of your 2 cards is less than 21 and you are hoping to reach 21 or close to it by taking another card. If your hand exceeds 21 you lose. You can hit as many times as you like until you reach 21 or bust. When you take a hit, the majority of casinos require hand signals that can be seen by the ‘eye in the sky’, the hidden cameras that oversee almost all the casino operations.
Standing Pat – If you think you have a good enough hand to beat the dealer, stand pat. Stand with your original 2 cards or at any time after taking a hit, as long as you haven’t busted. If you were dealt a 9 and a 10, you would stand pat. A horizontal wave above your cards informs the dealer that you’re standing.
Splitting a Pair – If you are dealt a pair you’re allowed to place an amount equal to your initial bet in the circle before you, you then inform the dealer you are splitting the pair. You then play both hands by taking hits until you are satisfied with the card count or bust. Sometimes you can re-split if you are dealt another card of the same value. For example, if you’re dealt a pair of 9′s and split them, and are then dealt another 9, you can re-split the second pair of 9′s. The re-split requires an additional bet that is equal to the initial bet.
Doubling Down – Is doubling your initial bet to receive only one more card. Doubling down is a great bet to make if the total of your initial 2 cards is 11 because it allows you to increase your bet after you have seen the dealer’s up card. The disadvantage is that you only receive one card.
Five Tips to Improve your Chances at Blackjack
1. Double down in most circumstances.
2. Never place the insurance bet.
3. Hit on hard 16 or less when the dealer’s face card is a 7 or more.
4. Hit on a soft 17 or less.
5. Split aces and most 7, 8 and 9 pairs. Never split 10-value cards or 5′s.