| Taking Advantage of Key Blackjack Playing Situations
by Mr. John Brokopp
May 24, 2006 Those who play blackjack according to the principles of basic strategy maximize their potential to have a profitable session because they drastically reduce the house edge.
The more incorrect decisions you make and the more favorable situations you fail to capitalize on during the course of play, the more you are contributing to the edge that casinos wield over players.
Knowing when and how to capitalize on key situations while playing six and eight-deck games can make the difference between winning and losing. Here are some of the areas to concentrate on:
DOUBLING DOWN ON SOFT HANDS - When the dealer shows a weak up-card (4, 5 or 6) while you're holding a soft hand (an ace plus any card 2 through 7), you are in prime double down territory. Here's what to do: Double down on A-2 and A-3 against a 5 or 6. Double down on A-4 and A-5 against 4, 5 or 6. Double down on A-6 and A-7 against 3 through 6.
HITTING SOFT 18 - Soft 18 (A-7) takes some players off guard. It's a good hand, but won't beat a 19 or higher. Since you can't bust by taking a card, always hit it against a 9, 10 or A. Stand against a 2, 7 or 8.
SPLITTING AND RE-SPLITTING Being dealt a pair doesn't always merit a splitting opportunity, except for aces and eights, which you always split mainly as a defensive maneuver. Never split fives and tens. Split twos, threes and sevens against the dealer's 2 through 7. Split fours only against a 5 or 6. Split sixes against 2 through 6. Split nines against 2 through 6 and also 8 and 9 but never against a 7. If you are dealt another card of the same value, always re-split.
CAPITALIZE ON A HOT STREAK - Consistently betting the minimum at a $5 table restricts your potential to turn a profit. You're just making yourself more vulnerable to the "grind" if you play long enough. Progressively increasing your wager during a winning streak can make the difference between breaking even and winning. It becomes particularly effective in double down and splitting situations, and when you are dealt a blackjack. When the streak is over, drop back to the minimum.
PAY ATTENTION TO THE TABLE - If you concentrate only on your cards, you're failing to seize maximum opportunity toward improving your play. Observing how many tens and aces have been dealt, for example, can assist you in your end game when there are only a few deals left in the shoe.
EVEN MONEY ON BLACKJACK Being paid 3 to 2 on blackjack is one of the biggest advantages players have. Unless you count cards, never settle for even money on a blackjack when the dealer is showing an ace. You're simply giving up too much in return for a guaranteed, albeit smaller, profit.
INSURANCE Again, unless you're keeping track of the cards, taking insurance on a strong hand against a dealer's possible blackjack (ace up) is going to eat away at your profit potential.
Copyright John G. Brokopp 2006. John G. Brokopp's is the author of two very popular books, The Insiders Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.
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