Advanced Strategy

Because basic strategy is based on a player’s point total, and the dealer’s visible card, basic strategy plays can often be incorrect. This is because a player may achieve different point totals with different cards, and a different number of cards. A more complete strategy would require a much more complex table, which is why the table above is named ‘basic.’

Advanced strategies take into account a player’s hand composition (number of cards and their individual values). For example, the basic strategy is to hit a total of 16 against a dealer 10 card. However, if a player’s total of 16 contains a 4 or a 5 card (such as a three card hand of 9 5 2), the correct strategy is actually to stand. Another example is a player’s total of 12 against a dealer 4. Basic strategy says to stand, but if the player’s total of 12 contains a 10 card (such as 10 2) then the correct action is actually to hit. Advanced strategy can also include information from other players’ hands. For example, if you have 10 3 and the dealer is showing a 2, the correct strategy is to stand, even with the ten you do have. But if other players are showing many tens, the correct strategy may actually be to hit. These slight variations in play help reduce the house edge.

Using other players for extra profit | Many players do not realize when they have profitable hands, or are not willing to double or split because of the cost of an extra bet. Other players will overestimate the value of a hand because they do not understand the mathematics behind the basic strategy. Because of this, a cunning player may be able to play another player’s double or splits by paying the bet himself, or even getting another player to pay to play one of the players own split cards. Consider a pair of sevens against a dealer 3. This hand favors the house whether the sevens are split or not, but the proper strategy is to split because 14 loses twice as often as a 7. Now if a smart player is able to offer one of the sevens to someone else, he is actually getting rid of a bad hand, and only having to play one hand of 7 against a 3, instead of two.

This can also be applied backwards. A person may be tempted not to split a pair of 2s against a dealer 5 or 6 card. In this situation a cunning player would offer to pay the bet and play one of the split hands, because 2 versus a 6 actually favors the player. Sometimes a player won’t have enough money to split a pair of eights against a 7 or 6, and this is also a good situation to offer to bank the bet, since an 8 is favored to win against a 7 or 6. A cunning player will often ‘team up’ with other players so they feel obligated to split pairs, even tens.

A smart player can also get in on other players’ doubles. Most casinos offer the player the ability to ‘double for less.’ That is, they are allowed to double down without matching their full original bet. If a player does this on a winning hand (any basic strategy double down hand is always a winning hand), a smart player can ‘get in’ on the double by offering to pay the rest of the double amount. A common situation is 11 versus a dealer 10. Most people prefer to only double for a small amount, a long term player should always offer to front the rest of the double bet, because in the long run a profit will be made.

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