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Guide to Plays to Avoid in Blackjack 

Even if you’ve never played a hand of Blackjack in your life, you probably know about hitting and standing. Those are the two primary decisions when you play Blackjack; hitting is when you choose to draw another card, and standing is when you stick with what you have. But these aren’t the only options you have at the table. You can also split, double down, take insurance, surrender, and sometimes, you can get some extra game action from a side bets. We’ll discuss four moves that should be avoided for most blackjack hands, including surrender, insurance, side bets, and splits. 

Blackjack Strategy for Surrendering

After you receive your two cards and the Dealer’s up-card is shown, you can choose to bail instead of playing out the hand. It’ll cost you half the amount of money you’ve bet, but you’ll get the other half back instead of risking the whole thing on a bad hand. So when should you use the surrender option in Blackjack games?

First, you need to know the difference between early and late surrender, and which of the two options your game allows. Early surrender is when you ditch your hand before the Dealer checks for a Blackjack (assuming his up-card is an Ace). Late surrender is when you have to wait for the Dealer to check first. Most of the games played today allow late surrender only, including those online Blackjack games available at Bodog Casino.

Early surrender is a much more potent weapon, since you can play it before the Dealer turns over a natural Blackjack for the win. But you can still use late surrender to help whittle down the house edge in very select situations. It’s a simple concept: Only surrender the game when you think your blackjack hand is going to lose more than 50% of the time. For example, if you’re playing online Blackjack with a standard six-deck shoe, you’ve got 16 in your hand, and the dealer is showing a Nine or higher, it’s time to surrender. Your best chance of winning games and real money with that hand are significantly less than 50%.

It's also best to surrender games if you have 15 and the dealer is showing a card worth 10 points. And if the Dealer hits on soft 17, then you can ditch your 15 and your 17 if the up-card is an Ace. That’s the full list of when to surrender late in Blackjack games, provided there are at least four decks in the shoe. As you can see, it’s a play best avoided if you want to win real money online, but comes in handy once in a while. 

Blackjack Insurance: Should You Take it? 

Basically every version of Blackjack casino games, online and live, offers players the opportunity to take insurance when the Dealer’s up-card is an Ace. That’s because this side bet gets the house extra money in what is otherwise considered a low-house-edge game. We’ll explain how this side bet works and why it's best to avoid it when playing online Blackjack casino games. 

When the Dealer flips over an Ace as his up-card, you’ll be asked by the casino whether you’d like to take insurance. This side bet costs half of what you put down in your initial bet (If you bet $10, insurance would cost another $5), and pays 2:1 when the Dealer has Blackjack. Since you’d still lose your initial bet, taking insurance would result in you breaking even. 

The issue with insurance lies in its probability and payout. In a six-deck Blackjack game, there are 96 10-value cards that would result in the insurance bet winning. Meanwhile there are 215 cards that would result in the insurance bet losing. When you multiply the 96 winning cards with the 2-1 payout, you get a return of 61.7%. Multiplying the 215 cards by the loss, results in a –69.1% loss. Combine the two results, and you get an overall house edge of 7.4%. That’s significantly higher than the house edge that comes from standard play (assuming you adhere to basic Blackjack strategy), which is why it's best to avoid a wager on the insurance bet. 

Just like with the surrender option, insurance shouldn’t be banished altogether. It is the best move in select games scenarios involving counting. Card counters happily take insurance when they have determined that the remainder of the shoe is rich in 10-value cards. 

Blackjack Side Bets

Many online Blackjack players look for the best ways to win bigger payouts than the standard even-money ones that you get in regular play. For that, you must delve into the world of side bets, which can pay 25X your stake, and sometimes more. But a word of caution: Most side bets are able to offer big payouts because the odds of winning the money are quite low. We’ll go over the “pairs” side bet in the online game Perfect Pairs as an example.

In our online game of Perfect Pairs, you can wager up to $500 on the Pairs side bet for a chance to win up to 25X your initial wager. If you are dealt a pair in the initial deal, you get paid according to its strength. The strongest pair to play, the perfect pair, is when you get the exact same two cards. That could be two Jacks of spades, which is possible because Perfect Pairs uses six decks. You can expect the 25X payout for this top-tier pair. 

The second-best pair to wager on in this online Blackjack game is a coloured pair, which could be a Jack of spades and a Jack of clubs, or a Queen of hearts and Queen of diamonds—for example. These pay 12X your stake. The majority of the time that you win the pairs side bet, you will be landing ‘mixed pairs.’ A Ten of clubs and a Ten of hearts would constitute a mixed pair, paying 6X your stake. Overall, the Pairs side bet comes with a 6.1% house edge, which is much higher than the house edge that you’d get from playing Blackjack casino games on their own. 

Splitting Tens in Blackjack 

If you’re just in the beginning stages of learning the best ways to play online Blackjack casino games, you may be a little fuzzy on the rules of splitting. Basically, any time you’re dealt two matching cards right off the bat, you can split the cards into two individual hands; each one will be dealt a second card, at which point, you play out your hands as you would in regular play. Splitting Aces is the most common scenario, as you can turn a score of 12 into scores of 21. One scenario that is less clear is splitting Tens. 

The temptation is there: You’re dealt two Tens for a score of 20. By splitting your Tens, you could potentially get two more Tens for two scores of 20. But remember, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. You’re already almost guaranteed to win the game of Blackjack when you play with your pair of Tens—why risk losing it for the chance to double up? Take your money, move on and play the next casino game.

Blackjack casino games have many layers of strategy; there are times to hit and times to stand—both of which can be learned in basic Blackjack strategy charts found online. But the four scenarios listed in this article are a little less obvious to the beginner Blackjack player. Keep them in mind when playing Blackjack games online at Bodog Casino, and you’ll be winning real money (and maybe a bonus or two) in no time and mastering the complex game of Blackjack both online and at live casinos.