Realistically, you could use basic strategy
for almost any blackjack game, and in most situations it would serve you reasonably well. But if you exclusively play games that hit soft 17, prohibitBasil Nestor is the author of the new Playboy Complete Guide to Casino Gambling. This wonderful book teaches players how to avoid sucker bets and win more when playing gambling games. He is also the author of The Smarter Bet Guide series for video poker, slots, craps, and many other books about gambling. Basil's website is www.smarterbet.com
doubles after splits, or use less than six decks, then you should learn the exact strategy for your favorite contest (because those fractions of a percent add up). And with a little a practice it’s actually pretty easy to switch back and forth between strategy variations.
Rather than reprinting the entire strategy for every variation, I’ll simply list the differences compared to the standard strategy.
Dealer Hits Soft 17
A dealer hitting soft 17 (often abbreviated as H17) may seem at first to be an advantage to the player because it increases the probability of a stiff and then a bust, but it’s actually a long-term disadvantage because the bust probability is more than offset by the value of a possibly higher total (that’s why basic strategy always tells you to hit or double down on soft 17).
Here are the strategy variations when the dealer hits soft 17:
8,8 – Surrender against an ace. Split as usual if surrender is not allowed.
A,8 – Double down on soft 19 against a 6. Stand as usual if a double is not allowed.
A,7 – Double down on soft 18 against a 2. Stand as usual if a double is not allowed.
11 – Double down on an 11 against an ace.
17 – Surrender against an ace. Stand as usual if surrender is not allowed.
15 - Surrender against an ace. Hit as usual if surrender is not allowed.
Professional blackjack players
often use abbreviations to describe game conditions. Some of these abbreviations include H17 (dealer hits soft 17), DA2 (doubling is allowed on any two cards, NDAS (no doubles after splits), and LS (late surrender).
No Doubles After Splits
Some of the value of splitting comes from the possibility that you might double down on a split hand. If this option is not allowed, then some splits become less valuable, and you should hit instead of split.
By the way, NDAS is a common abbreviation for no doubling after splits
6,6 – Hit against a dealer’s 2.
4,4 – Hit against a dealer’s 5 or 6.
2,2 and 3,3 - Hit against a dealer’s 2 or 3.
One and Two Decks
One- and two-deck games typically hit soft 17 and prohibit doubling after splits, so use the modifications to basic strategy in the previous sections as necessary and include the following for two decks:
6,6 – Split against a dealer’s 2 (yes, this is a reversal of the strategy for NDAS)
9 – Double down against a dealer’s 2.
All of the above and…
7,7 - Stand against a dealer’s 10.
2,2 - Split against a dealer’s 3 (this reverses the strategy for NDAS).
A,7 – Stand on soft 18 against a dealer’s 2 (this reverses the strategy for H17).
A,6 – Double down on soft 17 against a dealer’s 2.
A,2 and A,3 – Double down on soft 13 and soft 14 against a dealer’s 4.
8 - Double down on 8 against a dealer’s 5 and 6.
Remember, the sky won’t fall if you use the multiple-deck strategy from the previous chapter in a single-deck game
, but you will be giving away some of your edge. For example, doubling down on a 9 against a dealer’s 2 is a positive-expectation wager when playing one or two decks. As the saying goes, this is money sitting on the table waiting to be taken.