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The Conceptual Basis for All Blackjack Options

By: Mark Freedman, Thursday August 7th 2014
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There are a number of options available in blackjack. In most normal games, you'll have options to hit, stand, double, surrender or split at different times. You'll always have at least two or three options to choose from, and a minimum of three if you're playing your first two cards, so understanding the reasoning behind using each of these betting options can be the difference between consistently choosing the right play and consistently making costly mistakes. We want to give you the conceptual basis for each of these options and give you the foundation you need to play high-level blackjack.

Starting with the surrender option, realize that the play is giving up exactly half of your bet. Along these lines, it's a good option when your only other options give up more than half of your bet on average. This would have to be in the worst situations possible like a hard 16 against a ten or eleven. In a similar way, the double option is about having an advantage if you hit exactly once. If your advantage here is larger than just hitting normally (because of the added chance of needing to hit twice), then you should go ahead and double.

Splitting works out in a similar way as surrendering in that you can get out of difficult situations like if you have two fours against a nine or two eights against a ten or ace. On the other hand, it can also work like doubling since you can split low cards if you're against a weak dealer card to gain an advantage from the increased chances of the dealer going bust. Moreover, it can give you a chance to get payoffs from blackjacks if you split aces, so there are a few different reasons why you can split.

When it comes to hitting, it's all about whether or not you need to try to increase the size of your hand, and standing is all about not having any other options that are better. Overall, you have different reasons for taking these different actions, but if you know why you're taking the option that you are, it makes it much more likely that you'll play well and much more likely that you'll be able to improve when you're making mistakes. This is how you get better at the game and build your understanding.

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