13 Ways on How to Win At the Blackjack Table
Posted in Guides November 18, 2018

13 Ways on How to Win At the Blackjack Table

Most casino and table games are based on chance, but by following some tested rules and strategies, you can improve your odds and walk away with winnings. This is especially true for the classic game of blackjack, which tests your analysis, decision-making skills, and luck. To help you start winning, we have gathered a dozen strategies and tips for you to use as a foundation for playing. Keep in mind that these strategies are intended for casual casino players, not professional card counters.

Note: To make the strategies easier to understand, we use a few abbreviations in this guide:

  • S17: Dealer should stand on soft 17
  • DAS: A double-down after a pair splitting is permitted
  • H17: Dealer should hit on soft 17
  • NDAS: A double-down after a pair splitting is not permitted

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1. Split Aces and Pair of 8s

Many players hesitate to split their cards when they have a pair of 8s or Aces, especially if the dealer’s upcard is an Ace, 9, or 10. However, playing both hands starting at 8 instead of playing one hand with a total of 16 can increase your odds. Having two hands gives you a chance to win with the Aces and limit your losses or even make more money with the 8s. If surrender is allowed, surrender your pair of 8s in a multi-deck game with an H17 or a double-deck blackjack with NDAS and an H17.

2. Don’t Split a Pair of 10s or 5s

A pair of 5s is equivalent to a hard 10, and it is better to keep them together. Splitting 10s may give you a slight hope of winning, but keeping both cards for a total of 20 increases your chances.

3. Double Down on a Hard 11

Experienced players always double down when facing a hard 11, except in one case. If you’re playing a multi-deck game where the dealer must stand on soft 17, it’s better to hit against the dealer’s Ace instead of doubling down.

4. Hit a Hard 12 When the Dealer’s Upcard is 2 or 3

Instead of standing, it’s better to take the risk and hit a hard 12. Although players fear losing money, hitting can result in smaller losses.

5. Hit Ace-7 (Soft 18) When the Dealer’s Upcard is an Ace, 9, or 10

Many players prefer to hold and stand on a soft 18 in blackjack. However, if the dealer’s upcard is an Ace, 9, or 10, hitting with an Ace-7 can reduce your losses. Drawing a small card can boost your hand beyond 18, and getting 10s won’t affect the hand. If you’re playing single-deck blackjack with an S17, it’s better to stand on an Ace-7 if the dealer’s upcard is an Ace.

6. Check the Following Strategies if the Game Rules Specify That the Dealer Will Hit on a Soft 17

If the dealer will hit on a soft 17, use the following strategies:

  • Double down on a hard 11 against a dealer’s Ace.
  • Double down on a soft 19.
  • Double down on Ace-7 against a dealer’s 2.

If you’re playing an H17 game, you can use these strategies against an S17 game as well.

7. Double Down on 10 if the Upcard is 9 or Less

If you have a two-card 10 against a dealer’s upcard of 9 or less, you have a better chance of winning. Take advantage of this by doubling down.

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8. Double Down on Ace-2 to Ace-7 if the Upcard is 5 or 6

This is the best strategy when playing blackjack. Always double down on Ace-2 to Ace-7 if the dealer’s upcard is a 5 or 6. The range of upcards for doubling down may vary based on the rules or the number of decks used, but as a general rule, double down in this scenario.

9. Stand on a Pair of 9s if the Dealer’s Upcard is 7

Many players split a pair of 9s when faced with a dealer’s upcard of 9 or less. However, if the upcard is 7, it’s better to stand. There’s a high chance that the dealer has a 10 in the hole, making it more likely for them to get 17, which is lower than your 18. Standing gives you the advantage in this situation.

10. Surrender a Hard 15 against a Dealer’s Upcard of 10; Surrender a Hard 16 against a Dealer’s Upcard of Ace, 9, or 10

If you have a hard 15 or 16 and the dealer’s upcard is an Ace, 9, or 10, you are in a tough spot. Although it’s generally considered a losing position, surrendering these hands can limit your losses.

11. Double Down on 8 against a Dealer’s Upcard of 5 or 6

This strategy is particularly effective in single-deck blackjack. Doubling down on 8 when the dealer’s upcard is a 5 or 6 gives you the best chance to win. However, this strategy is not recommended for multi-deck games.

Reminder: This strategy also applies to a pair of 4s. If the rules allow for DAS, always split the 4s.

12. Stand on a Multi-Card Hard 16 against a Dealer’s Upcard of 10

The traditional strategy suggests hitting when the dealer’s upcard is a 10, assuming surrender is not an option. However, if your 16 consists of multiple cards, such as a 4-5-7, it’s best to stand when faced with a dealer’s upcard of 10.

13. Avoid Taking the Insurance Bet

It’s not recommended to take the insurance bet, especially when the dealer’s upcard is an Ace. Even if you have a good hand, like a 19 or 20, experienced players advise against taking this bet. The insurance bet pays 2 to 1, which is lower than the odds of the dealer having a blackjack.

Additional tip: Some dealers may offer “even money” if you have a blackjack and they have an Ace as the upcard, which works like an insurance bet. However, it’s better to decline this offer since you can earn more at the table.

For more information, check out the Complete Guide to Playing and Winning at Blackjack!

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