Much of the popularity of blackjack as a casino game owes to the fact that it is easy to play and fast-paced. Blackjack betting is multifaceted as there are ways to increase your bet after your initial wager.
These actions can technically be referred to as a ‘raise in blackjack’ (though they’re more often referred to as bets) and improve the player’s odds of winning and chances of beating the casino’s edge.
Raise in Blackjack
The two ways you can increase your bet are by doubling down and splitting. A blackjack player chooses the option of doubling down after they are dealt with their first two cards. This is usually done when they have a strong hand against the dealer, based on the total that these two cards make.
Doubling down gives you the option to double your bet, but you get just one extra card from the dealer in return.
Splitting, on the other hand, is the action taken by the player when they receive two cards of the same denomination – a pair of cards of the same value. By splitting, the player gets to play with two separate hands. The amount of the original bet remains the same for one of the cards and an equal amount is placed as a bet on the other card.
The player is dealt another card on each bet, and they can run through their options of standing or hitting for both. The two hands are, therefore, treated separately and settled on their individual merit and value. There are some rules of blackjack regarding splitting.
For example, if the player has a pair of aces, then they are given one card for each ace and they cannot draw again.
Also, if a 10-card is dealt with one of these aces, the payoff is equal to the bet and is not considered a blackjack.
Strategies for Double Down in Blackjack
Doubling down is a key part of blackjack strategy and it’s important you know when to do so in order to maximize your profits:
Card Total of 11
A hard total of 11 with the first two cards is the best possible scenario to double down. This is because, with an 11 already in hand, the player has a very high chance of getting 21 by drawing another card. Even if the player does not reach 21, there’s a good chance it will still end up higher than the dealer’s total.
Soft Hand totals of 16 to 18
A soft hand of 16, 17, or 18 means that the player has an ace, which can be considered 1 or 11, and one more card. These hands are often misplayed as people don’t realize they should double down. Doubling down is a good option with such a hand, especially if the dealer is showing a low-value card. As the ace can count as 1, the player can hit a high card like 10 or a low card by doubling down and not be afraid of going bust.
For example, if the player gets an A-7, it can be either 8 or 18. After doubling down, the player can make a total of 20 or 21 by drawing low cards such as 2 or 3 and a 17 by drawing a high card such as 9 or 10.
Hard Hand of 9 to 10
A hard hand means a hand with no ace. Hard hands are a lot less flexible than soft hands but when players get a hard hand of 9 or 10, doubling down is a good option to choose. In this situation, the player should double down only when the dealer shows a low-value card. In such a scenario, if the player manages to get a reasonably high card, they will be in a very good position against the dealer.
When to Avoid Doubling Down in Blackjack?
While doubling down is profitable at times, it should mostly be avoided. The most obvious situation where you should avoid doubling down is when the dealer has an ace. An ace is a powerful card and with one, the dealer has pretty good chances of hitting a blackjack or going as close to 21 as possible.
Therefore, it is necessary to play cautiously and not increase your stake by doubling down. Similarly, when you have a hard hand that is higher than 11, you have a higher chance of going bust if you hit, so doubling down would be a losing play.
Strategies for Splitting in Blackjack
Blackjack players must split strategically in the most favorable situations such as these:
Aces are powerful as well as rare in blackjack, so when a player gets an ace, they have a high chance of getting a blackjack by drawing a 10-value card, which there are plenty of in the shoe. When you have two of them, it’s a no-brainer to split them and try and get 21 twice. In fact, it is even wiser to re-split the aces if the casino allows it.
Playing two aces in one hand is something a good blackjack player should avoid as it’s simply far more profitable to play them as separate hands.
Pair of Eights
Splitting the pair ofis also a good strategy in blackjack that is easy to remember. It is best to play these two separately and aim for two hands that are worth 18 each.
Playing twoas one hand gets the player at 16, which is quite a poor hand, and hitting at this point is also risky. Re-splitting the like the aces is also a good move if allowed. Whilst this seems risky, it’s higher EV than playing the pair of eights as a single hand.
10 Pairs with Dealer 13 to 16
Whether to split theor not has always been in question. In some very specific game variations, players should split the against the dealer’s 13, 14, 15, or 16. For instance, in face-up blackjack, where all the cards dealt are exposed, splitting the is the right decision.
It is also a good move for the card counters especially when they know through card counting that a high proportion of high-value cards are left in the deck.
When Not to Split in Blackjack?
There are situations in blackjack when players should avoid splitting. When the player has a pair of, they already have a strong hand of 18. If they split, they will have to count on hitting a 10 or an ace to improve the situation. The same goes for a pair of .
Another situation where splitting should be avoided is when the player gets a pair of. With two , you get a 10, which is a suitable hand for doubling down and not splitting. Splitting and making 15 puts you in a bad position and will increase the house edge.
Players should also avoid splittingas two make 8 and this is a good hand to start hitting to 18. Splitting gives the player two very low hands and puts him in a tricky spot.
Whilst players can increase their bets, no one really calls it a ‘raise’ in blackjack. These options to increase your wage should be played strategically and the decisions taken by considering the possible outcomes.