As with all forms of Blackjack, there is an optimal strategy. Some of it is obvious, for instance, if the dealer has 17 or higher, you should hit until your hand is worth more than the dealer’s. When considering hands, it is vital you remember that all ties lose, so you must always hit until you have more points than the dealer does. In other situations, there is a specific set of rules that you should follow.
If the dealer has a hard total then you should do the following:
- 4 to 11: Always hit
- 12 and 13: Hit against dealer’s 7 to 11 otherwise, stand
- 14: Hit against 7 to 10, otherwise, stand
- 15: Hit against 7, 8, or 9, otherwise, stand
- 16: Hit against 7, otherwise, stand
- 17 and higher: Hit until beating dealer
If the dealer has a soft total then you should do the following:
- 4 through 9: Always hit
- 10: Double against soft 14, 15, and 16, otherwise, hit
- 11: Double against soft 13 through 16, otherwise, hit
- 12: Stand against soft 14, 15, and 16, otherwise, hit
- 13 through 16: Stand against soft 16 and lower
- 17 and higher: Stand if beating dealer, hit if not
If you have a soft hand and the dealer has a hard hand then:
- Soft 13 through 17: Always hit
- Soft 18: Hit against 12 to 16, otherwise, stand
- Soft 19 and higher: Stand unless dealer is beating you
If you have a soft hand and the dealer has a soft hand of 17 or under, then you should always hit until you are beating the dealer.
If you have a split hand against a dealer hard hand then:
- 2s and 3s: Split against 6 and 12 through 17, otherwise, hit
- 4s: Split against 12 through 16, otherwise, hit
- 5s: Always hit
- 6s: Split against 4 through 6 and 12 through 17
- 7s: Split against 5, 6, and 12 through 17
- 8s: Split against 4 through 8 and 12 through 17
- 9s: Split against 4 through 6, 8, 9 through 12 and 17
- 10s: Split against 13 through 16
- Aces: Split, except against 11 and 17 and higher
If you have a split hand and the dealer has a hard hand then:
- 2s through 4s: Always hit
- 5s: Double against soft 14 through 16, otherwise, hit
- 6s: Stand against soft 14 through 16, otherwise, hit
- 7s: Stand against any hand lower than 17
- 8s: Split against soft 16 and 17, otherwise, stand
- 9s: Split against soft 15 and 16, otherwise, stand
- 10s: Never split against soft hands
- Aces: Always split against soft hands
The Memorable Version
Optimal strategy is easy to follow but hard to remember. You can of course use strategy charts as you play, and these can be a great aid. However, you may find that this slows you down and becomes tedious. Instead of trying to memorise the strategy, there are a few basic rules that you can learn that will take you close to the optimal way of playing.
- Always Hit if Your Hand is 11 or lower
If your hand is worth less than 11, then there is no way that you can go bust by hitting, as you will not draw more than 10. The best-case scenario is that you draw a 10-card, which would give you 21. The worst-case scenario is that you have to consider once again whether to hit or stand. If you don’t hit, then there is a much bigger chance of you losing the round with a hand of 11 or less.
- If the Dealer has a hand of 20 always Hit
If the dealer is showing 20, then there are only two ways that you can win the round, either by holding blackjack or another hand that is worth 21. You will of course know if you have blackjack and do not need to take any further action. However, if you don’t have blackjack, then even if you think hitting will bust you, it is still worth a try as you will certainly lose if your hand is worth less than 21.
- If the Dealer has 14, 15 or 16, always Double if you have 11 or lower.
If the dealer is showing a hand that is worth 14, 15 or 16, then they must hit and receive another card. However, as their hand is already relatively high, there is a reasonably good chance that they will go bust (if you have been card counting, then you will have a better sense of this). If at the same time your hand is worth 11 or less, then you run no risk of going bust by hitting and there is a good chance of you winning the round with a low value hand. Therefore, this is the perfect time to double down on your bet and try to increase your payout.
- If your hand is worth 17, 18, 19 or 20 always stand unless the dealer has the same hand or higher
It can’t be stressed enough how important it is to remember at all times that when playing Blackjack Double Exposure the dealer will win all ties and you will not receive your bet back as a push. Therefore, if you and the dealer are both showing 17, you know that the dealer has to stand and you are guaranteed to lose. Therefore, you have nothing to lose by hitting as without doing so you are guaranteed to lose and by doing so, you have a chance of winning. This is similar to the second rule above, and the same logic applies if the dealer’s hand is higher than yours is.
- Do not Split a 10 value hand unless the dealer has hard 13, 14, 15 or 16
You will have a better chance of winning a round if your hand is worth 20 than if you were to split the 10s and try to form two more hands. However, if the dealer has a hard hand worth 13, 14, 15 or 16, then they will have to hit and there is a good chance that they will bust. Therefore, you have the chance to win with a lower value hand, so it is a good idea to split. Having two 10 values cards will be a very good starting point.
- Always split Aces unless the dealer has 11, or 17 or higher
When you split Aces, there is a chance that you will be dealt a 10-value card to from a hand of 21. While it is not ideal, most of the time it will be better to split them than to try to build a winning hand from a starting value of 12. If the dealer has 11, then they are in the same situation, while if they have 17 or higher, then you know the target that you need to beat.