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Do Not Ignore The Dealer Face-Up Card In Blackjack

By: Joan Peppin, Thursday July 12th 2018
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In online blackjack the crucial decision you have to make as a player is whether to take a card from the shoe (hit) or not take a card (stand). Many newbie players base this important blackjack decision only on the present value of their hand. They ignore the face-up card of the dealer. This is a grievous mistake. Optimum blackjack strategy has to be based on the complete information available. This article will tell you how expert online blackjack players leverage the information gained from the dealer’s face-up card.

If the present value of your hand is 11 or less you can never bust by hitting. If the value is 21 you will always bust. The corridor of uncertainty lies in between. Whether or not you will bust will depend on the card that you are dealt, which is a random occurrence. The higher the hand value, the greater is the risk of busting when you hit. The probability of busting on the next hit has been generated using computer simulation and is given below.

11 or less: 0%

12: 31%

13: 39%

14: 56%

15: 58%

16: 62%

17: 69%

18: 77%

19: 85%

20: 92%

21: 100%

The material question is at what point is the risk not worth taking. There is no one common answer. The critical point changes with the face-up card of the dealer. Let us understand how this is so.

In online blackjack, cards are dealt to the dealer’s hands according to set rules. The dealer cannot exercise any discretion in the matter. So it has been possible to determine the probability of the dealer eventually busting for a given face-up card. This again has been done through computer simulation. When the face-up card is 8, the probability of busting is 24%. This means if the dealer’s cards are dealt 1000 times with the face-up card being 8, then the dealer will bust about 240 times. The probabilities of busting for different face-up cards are given below.

2: 35%

3: 38%

4: 40%


6: 42%

7: 26%

8: 24%

9: 23%

10: 21%

J: 21%

Q: 21%

K: 21%

A: 12%

You will notice a clear break in the probabilities. For face-up cards from 2 to 6 the probability is above 35%. With such a high probability of the dealer busting, you should not take high risks and play conservatively. With the remaining face-up cards the probability of the dealer busting is less than 26%. Here you will have to play aggressively and take more than normal risks.

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