BLACKJACK SCHOOL – Designed to help you play a better game

Charles Jay’s
Designed to help you play a better game

A,5 vs. 2

THE SETUP: You’re playing in a game where soft doubling is allowed. The dealer gives you an Ace and a five and then flips up a two. The hand of Ace-Five gives you a total of either 6 or 16 – it’s your choice as to which way it will work better for you. Your options are to stand, hit, or double down.


What do you do?

CJ’S WAY: When you think about it, standing on this hand doesn’t make a lot of sense. What you need to resist is the temptation with the idea of doubling, just because the dealer isn’t showing an upcard that is classified as “pat.” What you need to do here is HIT this soft hand.

WHY WE DO IT: Essentially, there are two questions we’re asking ourselves – (A) Is the Ace-five (remember to call it that, not 6 or 16) strong enough to double with?; and (B) Is the upcard the dealer is showing (the two) vulnerable enough to double against? The answer to the first question is, generally, yes. The Ace-Five gives you that total of 6 or 16, and you could wind up in a lot worse condition. In point of fact, you WILL double this hand against the dealer’s upcard of 4,5, or 6. However, the answer to the second question is, NO, the two does not provide enough of an opportunity to double on this hand. It allows the dealer too much of a chance to attain a solid or standing hand. The bottom line, mathematically, is that with this hand you have an overall negative expectation; you will win 1% MORE and lose 1% LESS if you hit the hand as opposed to doubling it.


A,5 vs. 7

THE SETUP: You are playing in a game which features soft doubling. You are dealt an Ace and a five, while the dealer shows a seven. You can’t bust out with one hit in this situation. Obviously, when soft doubling is available to you, you’re always looking for a chance to exercise it. Here we may have one of those chances.


What do you do?

CJ’S WAY: No, it doesn’t. No doubling here. You must HIT this hand.

WHY WE DO IT: Remember that the Ace-five gives you a total of either 6 or 16. Certainly this doesn’t constitute a hand that’s good enough to double with against a dealer’s seven. Examining the math, doubling on the hand produces a negative expectation. You will, in fact, lose over NINE more hands per hundred than you will win. That represents about a 20% deficit, which is what you ant to avoid. However, considering the alternative, when you simply hit the Ace-five against the seven, you’re actually looking good. Leaving all pushes between the player and dealer aside, when you hit this hand you will win and lose almost exactly the same amount of times. That becomes essentially a break-even, which represents a better way to go than doubling in this scenario, where you are putting more money into play and at risk.

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