No More Worries About Making Dumb Plays by Henry Tamburin



Last month, in the interest of dissipating a few fears that novice players have about blackjack, we reviewed some basics about the objective of the game. This month we’ll go over playing rules.


Taking a hit in blackjack means you want the dealer to give you another card. You would normally take a hit when the value of your hand is low. The risk when you hit is that if you bust, you automatically lose. You must signal the dealer that you want another card by making a beckoning motion with your finger or scratching it on the felt (this is done for security reasons). When you ask for another card, the dealer gives it to you face up. You can ask for as many cards as you want, but remember the loss rule if you bust.


If you are satisfied with the total of your hand, you should stand. Signal this by waving your hand over the cards.


You can double your initial wager in blackjack by one of two very important ways. The first is known as doubling down and the second is pair splitting.


When you want to double down, you match your original bet by placing the equivalent amount of chips next to (not on top) your original bet. The dealer will give you one and only one more card. Strategically, it’s wise to double down when your initial two-card hand totals 11 or 10. You are hoping of course to draw a 10 or picture card for a 20 or 21. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but in the long run you’ll win more money by doubling down on these hands compared to hitting.


If you have a pair, you have the option of splitting them and playing out two Slot Gacor hands. Suppose you bet $5 and are dealt a pair of 8s for a 16. You are much better off splitting the 8s and playing two hands starting with 8 than playing the initial hand as a 16. To initiate the pair splitting you would double your bet just like you do when you double down (place the secondary bet next to the initial bet).


Finally, there is an option known as insurance. It’s a bad bet for players, so I won’t waste time explaining the bet. Just do nothing when the dealer asks you if you want to make the insurance bet.


Now that you’ve got the hang of how the game is played, what is left is to give you a quick-and-dirty set of just eight playing rules that will determine how you play every hand dealt to you. These Simplified Basic Strategy Rules are from the book, Knock-Out Blackjack by Olaf Vancura and Ken Fuchs, an excellent book that I highly recommend for beginners. By learning these eight rules, you can expect a 99% payback when you play blackjack, which is better than almost any other game you can play in the casino, including the slots.


Simplified Basic Strategy Rules

  1. Never take insurance
  2. Always split pairs of 8s and aces
  3. If your two cards total 10 or 11, double down if your total is greater than the dealer’s upcard
  4. With 17 or more, always stand
  5. With 12 through 16, hit against a dealer’s upcard of 7 or more, otherwise stand
  6. With 11 or less, always hit (unless doubling)
  7. With soft 18 or more, always stand
  8. With soft 17 or less, always hit

(Note: you can increase your payback even more by learning the complete basic strategy rules, which are slightly more complex than these simplified rules).


Let’s try a few hands to see how easy this is. Suppose you are dealt a 6, 5 (11) and the dealer’s upcard is a 5. By rule #3 you should double down. Likewise if your hand is 7, 3 (10) and the dealer shows a 9, you would double down. However, if you had a 6, 4 (10) and dealer shows a 10, by rule #3 you would hit, not double.


If you were dealt a queen and 7 (17) you would stand (rule #4). Likewise, you would also stand if you were dealt a 5 and 8 (13) and the dealer shows a 6 (rule #5).


To further bolster your confidence, practice this strategy by playing blackjack at home with a friend. Keep playing until you can make every play by these rules. You can also practice your strategy using any number of blackjack computer software programs or you can play for fun at an Internet site that offers blackjack.


Once you are ready to take the plunge and make your first bet, do one more thing. Jot down this strategy on an index card and take it with you when you play. Hold the card in your hand (don’t lay it on the table) and use it as a sort of “cheat sheet.” Don’t worry, this is perfectly legal.


Now let’s go back to the original reason that you won’t play blackjack. You are afraid of making a dumb play. With this  simplified playing strategy, you’ll be playing a better game of blackjack than most of your fellow players. So stop worrying.


Repeat after me. “I can learn how to play blackjack with the right strategy and I can win.” Say it a few times, then go for it. Once you do, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the ease and fun with which you can play blackjack.