Apr

08

2015

Blackjack Changing Strategy As The Game Evolves

Blackjack basic strategy has been around as guide to when to hit, stand, split and double down has been around since the 1950s. It’s well-grounded in the math of the game, and it’s something anyone who’s serious about blackjack should learn.

However, the game itself evolves, and when the rules change, so does basic strategy.

Take the situation when you’re dealt a pair of 4s in a six-deck game. It’s always been fairly easy to find tables in which you were allowed to double down after splitting the pairs. Let’s say you bet \$5 and were dealt 4-4. You could bet another \$5 to split the pair, giving you two hands that each started with 4. If your next card was a 7, giving you an 11 on your first hand, you could bet another \$5, giving you a \$10 bet on that hand. You’d then get just one more card on that first hand.

Win or lose, you’d then move to the second hand, where you still had a \$5 bet working on your second 4.

When you’re allowed to double after splits, basic strategy for six-deck games tells you to split 4-4 if the dealer’s up card is a 5 or 6, and just to play the hand as an 8 and hit if the dealer has any other card face up.

You can still find games like that, but some casinos now prohibit doubling down after splits, and that changes basic strategy. If you’re not permitted to double after splits, the situation is different.

If you don’t have that double down option, it limits the profitability of starting two hands with 4 each against a dealer 6, and turns the play into a net loser against a dealer 5. Hitting 8 against a 5 or 6 is a play with a player edge, and it’s the play to make if you can’t double after the split.

Summary: In a six-deck game, split 4-4 against 5 or 6 and hit against all other upcards if you can double after split, and just hit against all up cards if you can’t.