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Advanced Blackjack Plays

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Beyond Basic Strategy there are a number of hands you can play differently once you know how to count cards. By learning 10 of these hands we can take advantage of 90% of these advanced plays, simply by focusing on the most frequent hands, and the most profitable ones. The Blackjack player falls into one of four levels of skill.

Level 1 is the Average Player that knows some of the rules and guesses what to do with each hand.
Level 2 is the Basic Strategy Player who plays each hand perfectly.
Level 3 is a Counting Player that changes bet size according to the count.
Level 4 is the Advanced Player that changes the play of hands and bet size according to the count.


Play #1
Taking Insurance
Basic Strategy tells us not to take Insurance when the dealer shows an Ace up-card. The reason for this is simply that the player losses more times than they win and ends up losing more money. Once a player learns to count, they will know when there are enough 10 cards left in the decks to make it worthwhile taking Insurance bets.
Take Insurance when the count is +3 or more


Play #2
Standing with 16
Basic Strategy tells us to hit a total of 16 against the dealer's 7 to Ace up-card. This is almost an even choice as calculated by computer with the player winning 501 hands out of 1000 by hitting the 16. When there is even 1 more 10 card left in the decks than normal, you can stand on 16 against a dealers 10 up-card and know you will win more often than lose.
Stand on 16 vs. 10 when the count is greater than 0


Play #3
Standing with 15
Basic Strategy tells us to hit a total of 15 against the dealer's 7 to Ace up-card. As with standing on 16, computers have proven the player wins more often by hitting than standing. When there is at least 4 more 10 cards left in the decks than normal, you can stand on 15 against a dealers 10 up-card and know you will win more often.
Stand on 15 vs. 10 when the count is +4 or more


Play #4
Splitting 10s Against 6
Basic Strategy says splitting 10s is a BIG no-no, but there is a time to make this aggressive move. When the dealer has a 6 up-card s/he is already in hot water. When there are many more 10 cards in the deck than normal, the hole card is more likely to be a 10, and so is the card they will draw from the shoe. The player is much more likely to draw a 10 as well, returning themselves back to a hand of 20. The player can stand with 12 against the 6 up-card, so it is not as important that the player gets another 10 as it is the dealer gets the 10s and busts.
Split 10s vs. 6 when the count is +6 or more


Play #5
Splitting 10s Against 5
As is the case above, you can split 10s against the 5 up-card when the count is high enough. You want as much money on the table as possible when the dealer is most likely to bust.
Split 10s vs. 5 when the count is +6 or more


Play #6
Double with 10 Against 10
The dealer has already checked the hole card and does not have a Blackjack. The most s/he can have is 20, and with enough 10s in the deck probably has 20. You are more likely to tie that 20 with extra 10s available, but you also have the possibility of drawing an Ace.
Double 10 vs. 10 when the count is +4 or more
*!*Do NOT make this play in games where the dealer takes no hole card*!*


Play #7
Standing with 12 vs. 3
Basic Strategy tells us to hit our hand until we have a total of at least 13 against the dealer's 3 up-card. This rule changes when there are more 10 cards in the decks than normal. This is a more passive play since it is not a double or a split, but keeps the counting player from losing when they are more likely to win.
Stand on 12 vs. 3 when the count is +2 or more


Play #8
Standing with 12 vs. 2
As is the case above, we can stand with this hand when there are more 10 cards in the decks than normal.
Stand on 12 vs. 2 when the count is +4 or more


Play #9
Double with 11 Against Ace
The dealer has already checked the hole card and does not have a Blackjack. The most s/he can have is 20, and you still have the draw. It is just as if you are doubling 11 vs. a 10 as called for in Basic Strategy. Your chance of getting a 10 card is very good, and with just one more 10 in the deck than normal you have an advantage to act on.
Double 11 vs. Ace when the count is +1 or more
*!*Do NOT make this play in games where the dealer takes no hole card*!*


Play #10
Double with 9 Against 7
When the dealer has between 3 and 6 Basic Strategy calls for doubling with a two card hand total of 9. When the dealer has a 7 showing and there are enough 10s left to be dealt, doubling against 7 is the right play. The dealer will have 17 more often than normal, and the player will have a better chance of getting 19.
Double 9 vs. 7 when the count is +4 or more


Learning these plays is made easy with a little help from flash cards, a tool most of us remember from grade school. Feel free to download a set of these cards from this page. I have prepared them for your use and wish you all the best with this very valuable knowledge. These flash cards are for counts that give a maximum value of plus or minus 1 to the cards only. For other counts please contact me.




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