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Basic Strategy Explained

Why Split
Most casinos allow you to split two initial cards of the same value and play them as two separate hands while staking an equal amount to the first bet on the new hand.

You never split two 5s or two 10s. If you have two 5s you have a total of ten and a very good chance of drawing a ten to make a strong hand of 20. If you have two 10s you are already there.

However, if you have two Aces or 8s you should usually split them. The two aces give you two chances for Blackjack, (although it generally only pays evens on split hands) and two 8s gives you two chances to make 18 instead of the rather poor 16 that you have.
The other splitting decisions depend more on the dealer’s face up card.

Why Double Down
This enables you to double your bet when the odds of you winning are better than the dealer’s.

Casino rules do vary, but you would normally only want to double down when you have a hand worth 9, 10 or 11 and the dealer’s face up card is less than your total. Also you may double down on a soft 13 to 17 if the dealer has a poor face up card.

Surrender
Surrender is allowed at some casinos and allows the player to surrender their hand and lose half their stake. This would usually only be taken if the player had a 15 or 16 against a dealer 9,10 or Ace.

Insurance
Insurance allows the player to bet that the dealer has blackjack. This pays 2:1. This bet is not generally used in blackjack basic strategy and should be ignored.

Card Counting

Card counting was introduced in the 1960s and 70s when it was discovered that a deck with an above average number of 10 value cards and aces remaining favored the player and a deck with an above average number of low cards, 2-6, favored the dealer.

The general idea is to keep a basic count of whether there are more or less 10 value and aces or low cards 2-6 remaining in the deck. One of the most popular methods is to start with a newly shuffled deck and subtract 1 for each 10 or ace add 1 for each 2-6 and ignore 7-9s. A full pack of cards totals zero.

The card counter will still stick to the basic strategy but will raise and lower their stakes depending on wether the remaining cards in the shoe are favouring them or not.

We do not go into a great deal of detail here as card counting at the online casinos is not really possible as most casinos shuffle the decks after every hand and those casinos with live dealers will shuffle the deck after around 50% of the cards have been dealt, this is not enough of the deck to amass a usable card count .