Knowing when to hit and when to stand is the key to any solid blackjack strategy. Make the right call each time and you will give yourself the best possible chance of winning. This is the most important point when learning how to play blackjack for beginners.
Yet, some blackjack variants give you some extra options on top of these basic moves. These are additional opportunities to press home an advantage, to reduce your potential losses or just to add some variety to the game. Two of the most common options are double down and surrender.
What Is Double Down in Blackjack?
This is an option to double your stake after you have received your first two cards. In American Blackjack games, you can usually do this regardless of the value of those initial cards. In European Blackjack variants, you are typically only offered the opportunity with a value of 9, 10 or 11 in your hand.
After you decide to use the double down blackjack tactic, you will be given just one further card. Your total will then be calculated on the basis of the three cards that you hold.
When Should You Double Down?
The idea behind the use of double down blackjack strategies is to take advantage of a hand that you feel is potentially stronger than the dealer’s. Of course, you can never be completely sure of winning a hand at the stage that you are offered the chance of doubling down.
However, you can use the following strategies to increase your chances of using the tactic successfully.
What Is Surrender in Blackjack?
This is an option to fold and lose half of your stake. It is only available on some variants of the game.
As with double down, blackjack players can only use this option after they have been given their first two cards. If you choose to hit, stand or double down, you can’t then surrender.
You might also see late surrender mentioned. This is something that allows you to surrender after the dealer has checked for blackjack on their hand.
When Should You Surrender?
The surrender option is there to help you to save half of your stake if you feel that you are likely to lose the hand. Therefore, you will want to use it when you feel that the dealer has a stronger hand than you.
A sensible blackjack late surrender strategy needs to take into account everything that determines your chances of winning.
Other Options – Insurance
You will be asked if you want to take out insurance in some blackjack variants. This is offered when the dealer’s first card is an ace. If you choose insurance then it is a side bet that pays out at 2 to 1 if the dealer has a blackjack hand of ace and a ten.
You should bear in mind that this is a side bet in addition to the main bet, rather than a way of surrendering. It is simply a way of protecting yourself against the possibility of the dealer’s other card having the value of 10.
There is no real strategy to use for this option. It doesn’t matter what cards you have, as the only factor that affects it is the value of the dealer’s face-down card. According to the odds, there is a 31% chance that the dealer has blackjack when their first card is an ace.
Other Options – Side Bets
You will see a variety of side bets available in many blackjack variants. One of the most common is called Perfect Pairs. You are betting on your first two cards being a pair in this case.
This is in addition to the main bet. So, you can win the side bet and main bet, win one of them or lose both of them. Games like this typically offer different levels of payout. An identical pair, a coloured pair or a mixed pair will have different values.
Lucky Ladies is a different kind of side bet. It typically pays out if you have a queen, 20 or a pair of queen of hearts.
Again, this is the kind of bet that you would make without too much of a strategy. There is no reliable way of knowing in advance whether your cards are likely to be a pair.
As we have seen, trying out any of these strategies can add some variety to your games, as well as making you feel more like a blackjack expert.