Player Decisions in Blackjack

BLACKJACK Updated on: 1 September 2018

As easy as playing blackjack can be, it still has plenty of advanced playing options. Many players don’t use these features, at least not regularly. But the truth is that by knowing these features, you can improve your edge considerably and become a regular winner when playing this casino game.

But beyond that, these high level features also make the game more exciting. Quite simply, if you want to win and remain on the edge of your seat as you enjoy your next round of blackjack, it would serve you well to know about these features, especially how to use them properly.

So, I’ll get right to it. These decisions include surrender, insurance, splitting, and doubling down. Used wisely, these playing options can tip the odds of winning in your favor. So, knowing of their existence and how to use them is not the whole story – you need to use them wisely and to optimal effect. To help you attain this, below is a closer look at what it takes to make them more beneficial to your gameplay.

1. The Surrender Decision In Blackjack

This decision should be quite easy to understand; it implies that you leave the game before it is complete. While this maneuver might help you escape a chance to lose the game, it does come at a cost. This is because you will only manage to get half your bet back.

With traditional casinos, this move is part and parcel of their blackjack games, but not with online casinos. When playing blackjack online, chances are that the game you are using does not have a surrender option because the casino got rid of it in order to keep the game simple.

But you can still play blackjack with the surrender option online, you just have to look out for a version known as Blackjack Surrender. There are two forms of surrender, the late and the early surrender. With early surrender, you forfeit the game before the dealer has checked for a blackjack and before you make any play because he/she has an ace or a card with a value of 10. Late surrender means that you forfeit the game as it is proceeding; meaning that you might have even taken an additional card at this point in time.

How to Use The Surrender Move In Blackjack

Just because you have an opportunity to use the surrender move, it does not mean that you should. Sometimes, a surrender will work in your favor, at other times, it will not. For instance, with early surrender, which protects the player from losing to the dealer’s blackjack, you should only use the move when your total is more than 15. This is because a hit will most likely make you bust, and a stand pretty much guarantees a similar outcome because the dealer has such a promising hand.

And what of late surrender, when is the best way to use it? In general, this is not a good move, since the dealer is a lot less likely to win by a blackjack. So, you might as well forget about making late surrender and play the game out, your odds of winning are just as good as the dealer’s in this case, if not better.

The Insurance Decision In Blackjack

In blackjack, you can take insurance. This move is predicated on the possibility that the dealer has a blackjack as the opening hand. So, whenever the dealer has an ace as the upwards facing card, you can be allowed to take insurance so that you can get some money back if this turns out to be the case. Insurance is usually worth half the amount placed on the main bet. If the dealer gets a blackjack, the main bet is lost and the insurance bet won.

Is It Worth Taking The Insurance?

Honestly, no. Overall, this move offers absolutely not statistical advantage to the player. In most cases, the dealer does not form the suspected blackjack despite having an ace as the up-card. And right there, before the game has even began, you will have lost your insurance bet and then play the game as usual to see if you can win the main bet.

You might in fact have noticed that even as casinos remove the surrender option to make the game ‘easier’, they will leave the insurance option active because they understand that it stacks the odds in their favor.

The Splitting Option in Blackjack

True to its name, this blackjack move entails splitting your first two cards so that they form two hands. This option is only available when your first two cards are similar. And after splitting, you have to double your bet so that each hand gets a bet amount similar to the first bet you placed. The dealer then deals a new card for each card so that you can play normally with both hands.

Should You Split?

There is no steadfast fact that proves that splitting is a good idea. It’s not a bad move either. So, if you have the money to place an extra bet, go for it. All you get is the added excitement of playing two hands at once, but splitting does not necessarily harm your odds.

The Double Down Decision in Blackjack

Doubling down is an advanced blackjack feature that allows you to increase your winning potential by letting you double your initial bet. But this has to happen before you take an extra card. Furthermore, after you double down, you have to take an extra card but nothing more. So, you should not double down unless you are sure that an extra card will enhance the value of your hand without causing a bust.

When Should You Double Down?

To double down properly, you need to take into consideration your cards and those of the dealer. If your cards total to 10 or 11, you can double down, but only if the dealer’s exposed card is of low value. For one, this situation guarantees that you will not bust after receiving the compulsory extra card after doubling. And because the dealer has a low value card, he/she might need a card or two before getting to 17, which increases his/her odds of busting.

As you can see from this guide, knowing the rules does not cut it if you want to be a great blackjack player; you need to use these rules in your favor. Some decisions are not worth taking, such as insurance. On the other hand, other options neither improve or worsen your winning odds, such as the splitting option. However, doubling down or surrendering, when used in the right conditions, can help you stack the odds in your favor. But this is not all there is to playing high quality blackjack, look through the guides on this site to learn about other advanced blackjack strategies.