Intermediate Blackjack Strategy

Although strict adherence to basic blackjack strategy is always your best bet, there will be times in which you feel basic strategy isn’t enough. Understanding your best course of action in this situation still requires you to have a full comprehension of the basic strategy. As in most things, you have to know it well to deviate from it. The basic strategy is not a flexible strategy, but the cards are always alive and changing. To keep up with the ever changing face of blackjack, you need the intermediate strategy.

To some blackjack players, the intermediate strategy is a more practical way of playing blackjack. It involves many different aspects of the game, from special situations in the game to wager management. As the fleeting circumstances of the game unveil themselves, you have to be ready to counter them with the right decisions. To introduce you to the intermediate strategy, we will first touch on the special situations that often leave blackjack players in a bind, including those who practice basic strategy.

One situation that requires you to go beyond basic strategy is a hand that includes an Ace, known as a ‘soft’ hand. Because the Ace is valued at either one or ten, this hand can shift quickly and knowing how to act when you see it is crucial. A few tips will prove most helpful in helping you deal with soft hands, but just like with basic strategy it requires you to take notice of the dealer’s upcard.

  • If you are dealt A2 or A3 and the dealer’s up card is a 5 or 6, double down. If the dealer’s card is anything else, hit.
  • If you have A4 or A5 and the dealer has a 4, 5, or 6, double down. If dealer’s card is anything else, hit.
  • If you have A6 or A7, and the dealer has 3, 4, 5, or 6, double down. If the dealer’s card is anything else, hit.
  • If you have A8 or A9, always stay, this hand can be golden.
  • If you can’t double down, always hit until your soft hand becomes a hard hand.

Another situation you may find yourself up against is when your hand totals 12 and the dealer has a 2 showing. When this happens, hit at least one more card because you know that the dealer has to keep drawing until his cards total at least 17. Always hit on a 12 against the dealer’s 2 because the odds are in your favor: there are 16 available cards that could bust you but 32 that could improve your hand. That means your chances are twice as great to win as they are to lose.

When you find yourself in this situation, don’t play scared because your gut is telling you the dealer will hit a 7 and you’ll go bust. Always think about strategy; if your 12 is a 7 and 5, you already know one of the cards the dealer needs is in your hand, which means the stars really have to align for that to happen. Although you assume the card you can’t see is a 10, there’s a chance that it’s not and you’ll know as soon as the dealer hits again. Your best bet is to stay after you
hit it once on a 12 and wait for the dealer to go bust.