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Tricky Blackjack Hands: How to Play Correctly

Dec 14 3 min read

One of the first things a player needs to learn when he/she chooses to play blackjack online is to always stick to the right strategy. Sticking to the basics and using the right strategy reduces the house’s edge to 0.5%.

Basic blackjack online strategy moves, like why you should hit a soft 18 when the dealer’s upcard is a 9, 10, or ace or why you should never split a pair of 10s, are clear to most blackjack players. However, some fundamental tactics, such as hitting a 12 against a dealer 3 or splitting a pair of 9s against a dealer 9, are less noticeable. Below are some very tricky blackjack online hands and how to play them correctly.

How to Choose the Perfect Hand in Blackjack: Tricky Blackjack Hands

Doubling Down on Hard 11

In playing blackjack online, one essential strategy players are told to always double down on 11 whenever the dealer has a 10. However, this strategy is more challenging to follow than most players hit, instead thinking that the dealer might have a 20. Players don’t know that the dealers end up with a 20 about 33% of the time when they have a 10-up card and no blackjack.

This is inferior to a player with an 11 starting hand who doubles down with a 31% chance of getting a 21 and an 8% chance of having a 20. You have a much higher chance of making a 20 or 21 with a one-card draw than the dealer does. Even though doubling reduces your odds of winning significantly, your financial gain is still higher because you bet twice as much money when you double.

Splitting a pair of 8s

When playing blackjack online, splitting a pair of 8s against a dealer 10 loses less money than standing on a 16. You will only win four out of 17 hands when you hit 16 against a dealer 10. This amounts to 77% of the time loss and a 23% win in the long run. This is why one of the worst hands in blackjack is holding a 16 against a 10.

For every 100 hands of this scenario, you win 38 hands and lose 62 hands when you split. However, when you hit in this scenario, you win 23 hands and lose 77 hands for every 100 hands. This is to say that even though both hitting and splitting are not loss-proof, you have a better chance of splitting than hitting.

Using monetary explanations, splitting tends to win you $760 and lose you $1,240 with a net loss of $480. This is compared to hitting that tends to make you lose $770 as against winning $230 with a net loss of $540.

Standing on a Pair of 9s Against a Dealer’s 9

One tricky starting hand when playing blackjack online is having a pair of 9s against a dealer’s 9 upcards. While standing on a pair of 9s can be a good idea when a dealer has a small card of, let’s say, 2 or 3, standing against a dealer’s 9 is a bad idea.

Yes, a hard 18 is a strong hand that will beat a dealer’s hand eight times out of twenty, but it is still not a strong hand against a dealer’s 9.

If you want to get close to breaking even on this hand, you must be aggressive and split. In the first example, the ability to double your 11 should you draw a deuce to either of your 9s is more appealing because resplitting and doubling after splitting are permitted.

Hitting a 12 Against a Dealer’s 3

One important rule when playing blackjack online is never to risk busting when the dealer has a weak upcard—however, this is different when you have a 12 against a dealer’s 3.

When you stop to think about it, only a 10, a jack, a queen, or a king could bust your 12. On the other side, you can reach 17-21 with five cards (a 5, 6, 7, 8, or 9). Consequently, you’ll be able to enter the favorable 17–21 range with more cards than you’ll lose. The final line is that hitting 12 versus a 3 will result in a marginally less loss (about 2% less) than standing.


It feels better when you’re over-prepared for something than when you’re under-prepared. This is why we compiled some of the trickiest blackjack hands together to better prevent players from making grave mistakes. In addition, this makes players better informed when they next play blackjack online.

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