Casino Strategy

Blackjack Strategies: The Basics for Beginners (Part Two)

Just like the first part of these Blackjack strategy articles, this one is going to discuss three of the basic components to the game, this time going for ones that are a bit more esoteric and require more thought. Let’s talk about soft hands, Insurance and the Surrender rule.

Soft Hands: Hitting, Standing and Doubling Down
Soft hands are any hand with an ace, where the player has the choice between two totals. If you have an ace and a 7 for example, you can choose to play this as an 8 (1+7) or as an 18 (11+7). These can be a bit of a sticky wicket for casual Blackjack players because they have a whole new set of strategies associated with the game’s decisions when it comes to hitting, standing, and yes, doubling down. The good news is that you can hit with less fear a lot of the time, the bad news is that you have to think a bit more about doubling.

You’ll want to hit when you’re holding a soft 13 through 17 whenever the dealer has a 7 or higher as their up card. You can’t bust, even if you get a face card and you’re going to be that much better off when it comes to the showdown. You should only double down while holding a soft 13 through 17 if the dealer has a 5 or 6 as their up card. If you’ve got a soft 15, 16 or 17 you can double up if the dealer is showing a 4. A soft 18 is a hand you’ll generally want to stand with, but if you see a 9, 10 or ace, make the push. The rest of the time, just plain stand.

The short version of this is: don’t. The longer version is that players panic far too often when the dealer shows an ace, even if they’re holding a Blackjack of their own. There are guides that claim to help players with Insurance, but it’s not something that’s recommended for 99% of the times where it might come up, and you can honestly lose with that 1%.

Surrender is the opposite of Insurance in that you should be okay with using it when it’s available. If the cards are dealt and you feel that the dealer is way ahead and you’re going to have to have a miracle to beat them, take the option, save a few bucks and go onto the next hand. With Surrender, you get back 50% of your bet.

Finally, don’t vary your betting amount by very much, especially if you’ve just started the game. You’ll want to make sure that you minimize your losses as you work your way around the game. You might be tempted to increase your betting because you’ve been winning or you want to make up for your losses, but good bankroll strategy dictates you should stay tight.


This article is intended to help you build your strategy for the free play games found on