Game Play Strategies

So, now that you understand the basic concept of Blackjack and how to place your wagers on the table, it’s time to dig a bit further into the Basic Strategy of Blackjack, some of which will help to improve your game if used correctly. These include methods such as Doubling Down, Splitting, and the much misused Insurance.

Doubling Down

If your first two cards total 9, 10, or 11 and do NOT contain an Ace, you have the option to “Double Down”, which means that you can double the size of your original bet. In Doubling Down, you are dealt an additional card only. You must beat the Dealer’s hand with these 3 cards in order to win the Double Down wager.

In some casinos the rules vary, so it is important that you ALWAYS confirm the casinos’ rules before playing. In some casinos, Players are not allowed to “Double Down” after “Splitting” on their original hand. As well, some casinos only allow Doubling Down on 10s or 11s. Some casinos may also not allow Doubling Down if the Player receives an Ace in the first or second hand.


If your first two cards are of the same value (such as an 8 or an 8), you may split these cards. “Splitting” basically means that you are dividing your one hand of let’s say 16 into two separate hands, thereby increasing your chances of getting at least one better hand. The Dealer splits each 8 card and treats them as an individual hand. The Dealer will “Hit” your first hand with another card, and you have the option of continuing to “Hit” or “Stand” or in some cases, you may be allowed to resplit or “Double Down”, depending on the rules of the casino. You continue to play on that hand until you are satisfied with the hand or until you ‘Bust’. When you Split a hand, you must place a matching bet beside the original bet. The Dealer then moves to the second split card and continues to “Hit” or “Stand” following your instructions. You may have up to three chances to Split in a casino, so take advantage of this opportunity.

The best hands to Split on are any cards with values of Aces to 8s. Cards with values of 9s, 10s, or Face Cards are all over the Dealer’s required “Stand” hand of 17, so it makes more sense to keep these hands in preference to Splitting them. Splitting Ace cards is a very strategic move, because the likelihood of hitting and getting a 10 valued card is very high. Even though this instance is not constituted as a Blackjack (meaning the payout won’t be 3:2), it is still considered 21 and a winning hand!


Insurance is a very misunderstood bet in Blackjack and a very poor choice by Players. Why? Well, let’s first understand what Insurance is all about. If the Dealer’s first card (his face up card) is an Ace, Players have the option of insuring their bet in the event that the Dealer makes a Blackjack. Insurance bets pay 2:1. If the Dealer has a Blackjack, the Player will win the Insurance bet HOWEVER his original bet will be lost. If the Dealer does not have Blackjack, the Insurance bet automatically loses. So, what’s the point of gaining Insurance? There is none really. You are guaranteed to lose one of your bets, so it’s better to take your chances by betting without Insurance.


The Surrender method is an option that Players have where they can forfeit half of the bet instead of losing the entire bet if he feels that his hand is quite possibly a losing hand. If you know when to use the Surrender option, it can be very advantageous to you. When you “Surrender”, 50% of your wager is removed from the table and goes to the casino and you are left with the other 50%. You may be thinking that this seems like more of an advantage to the casino than you, because the casino receives half of your wager and you don’t win anything in return. This is only true if the “Surrender” tactic is not applied properly by the Player. Some Players will “Surrender” hands such as 12 or 13 because they are doubtful that they can beat the Dealer’s hand with further “Hits”. If you follow these poor betting methods, then the casino will most certainly profit. You should only use the “Surrender” rule at certain times. Read the Tips and Hints section for information on when to use the “Surrender” option.

Looks like you’re ready to begin playing Blackjack, but before you do, here are a few solid Tips and Hints that should ensure that your money stretches a little longer at the Blackjack table.

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