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For players who really want to make a difference in their casino results, who want to maximize their chances to win while minimizing their expected losses, there is little they can do that compares with learning basic strategy in blackjack.
The average blackjack player spots the house an edge of about 2 to 2.5 percent, leaving a game that's a little better than Caribbean Stud, Let It Ride or pai-gow poker, but not as good a bet as baccarat or the best bets in craps. But the player who takes the time to learn and practice basic strategy slashes the house edge in a multiple-deck game to about half a percent, give or take a couple of tenths of a percent depending on house rules.
That's an enormous difference, the difference between losing an average of about $2 to $2.50 per $100 wagered or spotting the house only about 50 cents per $100. Anyone who plays blackjack should learn basic strategy, a topic I like to revisit once every couple of years. As we move away from the strategies in poker-based games we've already covered in this occasional series on table-game strategies, let's check out basic strategy for multiple-deck games. Single-deck strategy is slightly different, so in the next installment we'll look at strategy differences for the one-deck game, along with a few moves beyond basic.
BASIC STRATEGY FOR HARD TOTALS
That's easy enough, right? Things get a little more complicated with "soft" hands--hands in which an Ace is being counted as 11. These hands can't be busted with a one-card hit, since we can count the Ace as 1 instead.
BASIC STRATEGY FOR SOFT TOTALS
What about soft 12? That's a pair of Aces, and that belongs to the next area of basic strategy, splitting pairs. When deciding whether to split pairs, we need to keep in mind whether the house rules permit us to double down after splitting. If we have the option of doubling, we split more pairs than if we don't.
We always split when we have pairs or Aces or 8s, and never split 5s or 10s. With anything else, it depends on the dealer's hand and house rules.
BASIC STRATEGY FOR SPLITTING PAIRS
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