Most people assume that blackjack is largely a mathematical game, this is not necessarily true. What blackjack is, is a game of decision making regarding the risk that a player is willing to take in the quest to have a higher valued hand than the dealer. It is also important to note that the dealer has the same options of play that are available to the players. Therefore the dealer’s mode of play is an important factor to consider when making decisions regarding your strategy.
The main decisions that you have to make when [playing blackjack is whether to hit (ask for an additional card), stand (be satisfied with your current hand), or surrender (when you forfeit half your wager because you believe that you have an inferior hand). Other options include doubling down (doubling your wager), splitting tour cards to get two different hands if your initial two cards are identical or taking out ‘insurance’ against the possibility of the dealer having a blackjack.
There are two main factors that drive your decision making, the cards that you have and the dealer’s up card. The dealer’s up card is the card that is placed face up on the table. Most casinos require the dealer to ‘expose’ on of his/her hands once the game begins.
While there are numerous detailed strategies that include statistical tables and card counting tricks, this guide will focus on the more basic ‘beginner level’ strategies. The first rule you should have is never to split a hand that has two cards with a value of ten. This includes face cards (king, queen, and jack) as well as cards with the number 10 value. This is because, if your hand has two 10 value cards, then you have a score of 20. This combination can only be beaten if the dealer achieves a perfect 21 score.
If your first two cards have a value of 11, then you should double down. This is because, you don’t run the risk of exceeding the value of 21 since the highest possible card value you can get with the third card is 10, which will give you a perfect score of 21. Even with an 8 or a 9, you still get a very high score that will likely beat the dealer’s hand.
You should also not be afraid to surrender if you believe that the dealer has a superior hand. This is especially true of the dealer’s up card has a value of 10 or is an ace, and you have a poor hand. For example, if your hand has a total value of 15, and the dealers up card is a 10 or an ace, then getting an additional card could see your hand’s value exceeding 21, which leads to an automatic forfeit. Additionally, with the dealer’s strong up card, the ‘hidden’ card might enable them to achieve a higher score than yours, or even a blackjack. In this instance it is better to surrender and lose half of your wager, rather than losing all of it.
Always balance your risk-taking when playing blackjack.