Online Blackjack – Core Strategy
With the exception Hold’em, blackjack is probably one of the most popular card games played online. In this article we are concerned less with the basics of blackjack and more with a discussion of essential strategies and concepts, such as busting cards, doubling down, and splitting, and therefore assume you command at least a tertiary understanding of online blackjack. Information dealing with more fundamental aspects of online blackjack is plentiful on the internet, as are any number of handy charts. If you are already versed in the basics, or are not on the quest for charts, then by all means continue.
In every hand of online blackjack the dealer will have an up-card. It is possible to make some general deductions about the dealer’s hand in a game of online blackjack given the value of their up-card. In fact, it is imperative that you read into the dealer’s up card every hand as it is one of the few pieces of information you will have to go on.
Mainly you want to look out for bust cards. A dealer is said to be showing a bust card if their up card is a 4, 5, or 6. This is based on the not unlikely assumption that the dealer’s hole card has a value somewhere in the vicinity of 10. A bust card then indicates the dealer’s hand is probably somewhere in the vicinity of 13 to 16. This is helpful information because a dealer will invariably draw cards until they get to 17.
Of course, if dealer is already in the 13 to 16 neighborhood the chances of she or he going bust on this hand are quite high. There are still quite a number of high value cards in that or those decks, and there is a very likely (though not certain) possibility the dealer will draw one of them. Consider it this way. If the dealer is already at 14, they only need an 8 or higher to bust. If you see a dealer bust card and your own hand is situated for it, a split or double down here could be a nice coup d’ grace.
Speaking of splits, when is it best to split a pair? Generally 8’s and aces are the best bet for splitting a pair in online blackjack. Remember, when you split a pair you play them as two separate hands. Playing two eights independently from the get go is much better than starting with a 16 where you will have to hit to win but where anything higher than a five will put you over 21. Two aces are natural splitters since neither 2 nor 22 are particularly helpful. Although 12 is a fine starting value, two 11’s/1’s are exponentially superior starting hands.
To double down is to up the size of your bet in the middle of a hand by x2. This is a bold maneuver and is only recommended when the certain circumstances align. First, before you double down, the dealer should be showing bust cards. Furthermore, online casinos generally permit players to double down with values of 9, 10, or 11. If your online casino permits this with these values, and the dealer is showing bust cards, the circumstances have aligned. Beyond this situation, however, to double down is probably too risky a proposition. Most experts recommend doubling down on an 11 in all circumstances save if the dealer shows an ace. A dealer with an ace puts her or him (or the computer) dangerously close to a 21, and players always lose when the dealer scores 21.
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