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Winning Blackjack Decisions

Many times in blackjack your decisions are easy. If you have 17, 18, 19, 20 or 21 then you have an easy decision to stand. If you have 11 or less then you have the easy decision to hit. What about tough decisions though? How do you play the soft 18? How do you play a pair of 8’s?

Let’s start with blackjack hands that have an ace in them. These are called “soft” hands because you can always hit them because that ace can be an 11 or a 1. If you have a soft 13, 14, 15, 16, or 17 then you always hit the hand no matter what card the dealer is showing. What about that soft 18 we talked about earlier? If you have a soft 18 you should stand if the dealer’s card is an 8 or lower. You want to hit that soft eighteen if the dealer is showing a 9, 10, face card or ace. If you have a soft 19 or soft 20 then you always stand no matter what card the dealer is showing.

What about that other hand we talked about earlier, the pair of 8’s? The pair of 8’s against a dealers 9, 10, face card or ace is a tough decision. Technically the correct answer is to split the 8’s in long-term blackjack strategy but it is never easy to do it. Let’s look at another one. What do you do when you have two 9’s against a dealer’s up card of a 9? You have 18 in this situation and in every other situation except the soft 18 you would stand. The long-term math says that if you stand with the 18 you will still lose about 60 percent of the time in this situation. If you split those 9’s you decrease that losing percentage by almost 10 percent and it is about 50-50 whether you will win or lose.

Keep some of these decisions in mind the next time you are playing blackjack and your chances of winning will increase.

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