Blackjack Rules - The Player's Choices


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3.0: Player Moves

Early/Later Surrender are among the most uncommon options at the blackjack table, since they are favorable for the player and can nullify the dealer’s blackjack. Both Early and Late Surrender must be decided before the player has had a chance to make his (or her) move. Once the player decides to hit, stand, double, or split he cannot surrender.
To surrender means that you immediately forfeit (fold your hand) ½ of your initial bet, instead of risking losing the full amount during the game itself.
The difference between early and later surrender is simple – in early surrender the player can surrender before the dealer checks his cards for blackjack, and in late surrender the player can surrender after the dealer checks his cards for blackjack (i.e. only if he does NOT have blackjack the player can surrender in late surrender). Early surrender offer great value for the player, which is exactly why it is so rarely found in casinos. Late surrender is more common and can be found occasionally in casinos, mostly in Europe.

Surrender is a great option for players, who unfortunately abuse it too much and surrender too many hands. In general, players should only surrender when their chances of winning are less than 25%, which means the casino has more than 50% chance of winning. If the casino edge is more than 50% it is better for the player (in the long run) to surrender 50% of his bet.

When playing in multiple-decks blackjack tables do the following:

  • Surrender when you have a hard 16 (i.e. 10,6) and the dealer shows 9, 10, or an Ace.
  • Surrender when you have a hard 15 (i.e. 10,5) and the dealer shows 10.
  • Do NOT surrender a pair of 8’s, soft 15 or 16 (i.e. A,4 or A,5).

b. Hit
This is one of the player’s most common moves during the game. To ‘hit’ means that you wish to receive another card from the shoe. The way of telling the dealer to ‘hit’ varies from casino to casino; you can say to the dealer “hit”, tap the table felt with your fingers when it’s your turn to play, or, if you receive your cards face down, lightly scrape your cards on the table felt, in an inward motion toward you. If you hit and go over 21 you ‘bust’ your hand and lose your bet immediately (the dealer will then remove your bet and cards from the table).

c. Stand
This move, together with ‘hit’, are the most common moves in blackjack. To ‘stand’ means that you’re satisfied with the cards you have and you don’t want to receive another card. To tell the dealer that you’d like to ‘stand’ you can say to the dealer “stand”, wave your hand sideways with your palm down over your cards (if your cards were dealt face-up), or slide your cards under your bet (if your cards were dealt face-down). In any case remember not to touch the bets on the table.

d. Double Down
A profitable option for players is the ‘double down’ action. Double down must be the first action made by a player after he receives his cards. Doubling down lets the player double his initial bet and receive only one additional card. For example, you have 6,5 and the dealer shows a 6. This is an ideal opportunity to double your bet since you cannot bust by receiving only one card, and the dealer has a poor hand and is likely to bust or lose. If you play a blackjack game with cards face-up, just place another bet, similar to your initial bet, next to your original bet. If you’re playing a blackjack game with cards face-down simply put your cards on the table in front of your initial bet and add another bet, identical to your initial bet, next to your original bet.

When is the correct time to double down? That’s easy – just use’s Blackjack 2021 Real Time Analyzer for the correct move of any card combination.

e. Split
When a player gets two cards of the same denomination (suits are irrelevant) he can split his hand into two separate hands, and play each hand individually. For example, you are dealt two 7’s and decide to split them. Place a bet equal to your initial bet adjacent to it, and tell the dealer you’d like to split your cards. The dealer will then separate the two cards and add one card to each new hand. Let’s say you receive a 4 for the first hand and a 3 for the second. In most casinos you’ll be able to double down on split hands (doubling down on split Aces is rarely allowed) and 11 or 10 are optimal hands to double down with. If you happen to pair a split hand you can usually split it again (mostly resplitting is allowed up to 3 splits).

There are 3 important rules to remember about splitting hands:

  1. Never split 10’s. If you have 20 – stand
  2. Always split Aces (usually you can only get one additional card for each split Ace, and getting a 10-valued card to a split Ace is not considered a Blackjack with payout of 3 to 2).
  3. Always split eights.

For the correct splitting strategy use our Blackjack 2021 Real Time Analyzer

f. Insurance – a game within a game
Insurance is an interesting feature in blackjack and must be considered carefully. It is not recommended for players who follow basic strategy to take insurance at all, since if it is used poorly it will increase the house edge.
When the dealer shows an Ace he will ask the players if they want ‘insurance’. An insurance is another bet, which equals ½ the original bet, and is placed on the ‘insurance’ betting stripe on the table. The dealer will then check his hole card to see if it’s a 10-valued card. If it is then the dealer has a Blackjack and will pay the players that took the insurance at 2 to 1 on their insurance bet. That means that players that take insurance and the dealer gets a Blackjack will not lose their bets, since although they lose their initial bet, they still win 2-1 on their insurance. For example, let’s say you placed a $10 bet and took insurance. You now have $15 on the table ($10+$5 insurance). Now assuming the dealer receives a Blackjack, you will lose your $10 initial bet, but you will get paid $10 on your insurance bet (you don’t lose anything). On the other hand, if you take insurance and the dealer doesn’t have Blackjack you lose your insurance bet.
The logic behind taking or not taking insurance is simple. In every card deck there are 16 ten-valued cards. Therefore if the dealer shows an Ace those cards equal to 16/51 of a single deck or 1/3.1875 (less than 1/3), but in order for the insurance bets to break even the dealer’s hold card needs to be a 10-valued card at least 1/3 of the times. That’s why you should only take insurance when 10-valued cards comprise at least 33% of the shoe.
If both you and the dealer have Blackjacks, the dealer will offer you ‘Even Money’, which pays 1 to 1 instead of 3 to 2. Even money is the same as insurance regardless if the dealer has Blackjack or not (either the dealer has Blackjack and you tie your original bet and get 2 to 1 on the insurance, or the dealer doesn’t have Blackjack and you lose your insurance but get 3 to 2 on your initial bet). It’s always a bad idea to accept Even Money when you follow basic blackjack strategy, but if you’re a card counter you should accept even money when 10-valued cards are more than 33% (one third) of the shoe.

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