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Blackjack : Basic blackjack strategy describes the unseen cards

By Arthur Levine

Level: May 2nd 2007
There are many ways one can play blackjack: the influence bettors play in a way which only adds to the mystery of the game, these are the ones who analyze the game too much, the so called "by the book" players.

Others once they have seen the dealer's upcard choose to split or double even if the odds are not in their favor. And there are the ones that play the game having confidence in their luck; their only aim is to make 21.

These ways are different and they have various outcomes, depending on the situations. Sometimes they can make lots of money, sometimes they can make you broke. Altogether there is the "perfect" way one can play blackjack, and that is with the help of a blackjack basic strategy, which has answers for every player-dealer combination at the table.

The basic strategy maximizes the players chances to win, and minimizes the house's edge. It does not assure a win, because nothing can assure a win at blackjack.

There are many suppositions about the origins of the basic strategy: some think it was created by the casinos to make more money, others think it was created after someone watched millions of hands to observe the results.

There are many other presumptions but they are all false. Maybe you are one of those players that don’t know what to do in certain situations, like hitting when you should stand, or vice versa.

The blackjack basic strategy can help you make the right decisions because it is based on mathematical formulas, and calculates the probabilities of the unseen cards.

To make it simpler it calculates which cards are most probable to come next, based on the cards you and the dealer have. Let’s say the dealer has a 9 as his upcard. Most would think he has 19, but in fact the probabilities of him having 19 are of 35.1%, 30.8% if he has a 10 in the pocket, and 4.3% if he has other cards.

The odds of him busting are of 22.8%, of making 17, 18, or 20 are of 12% each, and of making 21 is 6.1%. Let’s say you have a 17 and you face the dealer’s 9. What would you do? If you would stand you would lose if the dealer would make 18, which has a probability of 65.2%.

If the dealer busts, which has a probability of 22.8%, you win. If the dealer makes 17 points, it’s a tie, which has a probability of 12%. If you would place 100 $10 bets in this situation you would lose $424 ($652-$228=$424).

One choice you could make is surrender, which means you lose only $5; but you end up losing $500 after 100 hands. You could draw, since standing is a bad choice. With any card over 4 you will bust, possibility of 69.2%, making 18, 19, 20, or 21 has a possibility of 7.7% each. In case of a draw you will lose 69.2% of the time by busting, 6% if the dealer has more points than you; you will win 19.8% of the time, and tie 5%.

In the same 100 $10 cards situation, you would lose $554 ($692+$60-$198=$554). The odds are against you in this situation. If we take the same 100 $ cards situation, with you having 17 and the dealer’s upcard being 9, you would lose $554 by hitting, $500 by surrendering, and $424 by standing. It’s a lose-lose situation.

A basic strategy analyzes each possible card combination, just like the one presented in this article. It will help very much especially since you can use it at the table in most of the casinos. You are the only one that can make you a winner.

Luck and other factors such as time or bankroll are very important, but giving your money to the casino, by not using a basic strategy to reduce their edge is not a wise choice. We say use the basic strategy because it will help you.
RELATED GAME STRATEGIES
Lesson 1: Blackjack History
Where was the game born? And who named it BlackJack?
Lesson 2: Blackjack Rules
All you need to know before getting started.
Lesson 3: Blackjack Strategy
The many strategies to get a winning edge over the casino, besides getting "Rain Man" to play for you of course!
Lesson 4: Blackjack Vocabulary
Speak like a pro. Talk the talk, the walk is up to you!
Lesson 5: Blackjack Tips
What you should keep in mind, and even a little more on strategy.

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