When to Take Special Actions in Blackjack

There are two primary actions in the game of blackjack that all players understand. Most situations demand that you hit or stand. Some, however, require you to think a little bit more and take what’s known as a special action. You can either double down, split your cards, or surrender in some cases. When you should you do these things?

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When to double down

Doubling down gives you a chance to put more money on the table after seeing your cards. This is a special opportunity, and it’s one that you must take full advantage of if you’re going to win. You should double down any time you have an 11, regardless of what the dealer holds. You should also double down on every 10 except in those cases when the dealer shows a 10 or an ace. In addition, you should be doubling down any eight or nine if the dealer shows a four, five, or six.

Where things get a bit messy is when you have a soft hand. If you’re hold a soft 12, 13, 14, or 15, you should double down when you’re looking at a dealer’s five or six. By doing this, you’ll be maximizing your edge in those specific hands.

When to split

You have the option of splitting any time you’re dealt cards of the same value. It’s important to get one thing out of the way up front. You should never split 10s under any circumstance. Beyond that, there are a few times when it’s right to split nines. If the dealer is showing a four through six, you might split nines. You should split eights against every dealer card except a 10. You should also split threes against every dealer card except that 10. It’s smart to split twos and fours against a dealer bust card, including a four, five, or six. Just as you shouldn’t split your 10s, you should never split fives.

When to surrender

Only certain blackjack tables give you the ability to surrender. This option allows you to get back half of your bet, and you automatically lose. The only time when you should surrender your hand is when you have a 15 or 16 against a dealer’s 10. This will provide you with a tremendous amount of value over time. Though it’s not exactly a “fun” way to play, you’ll walk away with more money over time.