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Last Updated: May 10, 2006

Double Deck Basic Strategy Exceptions

Introduction

In blackjack every card that is played has an impact on the distribution of the remaining cards. The following lists will show exactly how to play your cards immediately after a shuffle in a double deck game where the dealer stands on a soft 17.

To use this guide first go to the list according to the number of cards in your hand. Then note the basic strategy changes and finally the exceptions to the changes. For example if you have a 16 composed of a 10, 4, and 2 against a 10 look under the 3 card list. You will see that with three cards you should stand on 16 against 10. Going further you will see there are some exceptions, for example with a 16 composed of a 6, 6, and 4 you should hit. However 10+4+2 is not listed as an exception so you should stand. It should not be interpreted that this is a card counting guide. Everything is based on exact cards and no numbers represent a count. Some of these plays will not agree with even the best card counting strategies. These tables are always right while card counting is an estimate of the best play. Counting cards does not take into consideration the exact composition of the remaining deck as this analysis does.

Two Cards

Basic Strategy Changes: None

Exceptions:

  1. 11 (9+2) vs Ace = Hit
  2. 11 (8+3) vs Ace = Hit
  3. 12 (10+2) vs 4 = Hit

Three Cards

Basic Strategy Changes:
  1. 16 vs 10 = Stand
  2. Soft 18 vs A = Stand
Exceptions:
  1. 16 (6+6+4) vs 10 = Hit
  2. 16 (7+6+3) vs 10 = Hit
  3. 16 (8+6+2) vs 10 = Hit
  4. 16 (9+6+A) vs 10 = Hit
  5. 16 (10+3+3) vs 10 = Hit
  6. Soft 18 (A+A+6) vs A = Hit

Four Cards

Basic Strategy Changes:
  1. 16 vs 10 = Stand
  2. Soft 18 vs A = Stand
Exceptions:
  1. 16 (6+6+2+2) vs 10 = Hit
  2. 16 (6+6+3+A) vs 10 = Hit
  3. 16 (7+6+2+A) vs 10 = Hit
  4. 16 (8+6+A+A) vs 10 = Hit
  5. 16 (10+2+2+2) vs 10 = Hit
  6. 16 (10+3+2+A) vs 10 = Hit
  7. 16 (4+4+4+4) vs 9 = Stand
  8. 16 (5+4+4+3) vs 9 = Stand
  9. 16 (5+5+3+3) vs 9 = Stand
  10. 16 (5+5+4+2) vs 9 = Stand
  11. 16 (5+5+5+A) vs 9 = Stand

Five Cards

Basic Strategy Changes:
  1. 16 vs 10 = Stand
  2. Soft 18 vs A = Stand
Exceptions:
  1. 16 (6+3+3+2+2) vs 10 = Hit
  2. 16 (7+6+A+A+A) vs 10 = Hit
  3. 16 (10+2+2+A+A) vs 10 = Hit
  4. 16 (6+6+2+A+A) vs 10 = Hit
  5. 16 (4+4+4+3+A) vs 9 = Stand
  6. 16 (4+4+4+2+2) vs 9 = Stand
  7. 16 (4+4+3+3+2) vs 9 = Stand
  8. 16 (4+3+3+3+3) vs 9 = Stand
  9. 16 (5+5+3+2+A) vs 9 = Stand
  10. 16 (5+4+4+2+A) vs 9 = Stand
  11. 16 (5+4+3+3+A) vs 9 = Stand
  12. 16 (5+5+2+2+2) vs 9 = Stand
  13. 16 (5+4+3+2+2) vs 9 = Stand
  14. 16 (5+3+3+3+2) vs 9 = Stand

Six Cards

Basic Strategy Changes:
  1. 16 vs 10 = Stand
  2. Soft 18 vs A = Stand
Exceptions:
  1. 12 (4+4+A+A+A+A) vs 3 = Stand
  2. 16 (A+A+2+4+4+4) vs 7 = Stand
  3. 16 (A+A+3+3+4+4) vs 7 = Stand
  4. 16 (A+2+2+3+4+4) vs 7 = Stand
  5. 16 (A+2+3+3+3+4) vs 7 = Stand
  6. 16 (A+3+3+3+3+3) vs 7 = Stand
  7. 16 (2+2+2+3+3+4) vs 7 = Stand
  8. 16 (2+2+3+3+3+3) vs 7 = Stand
  9. 16 (A+3+3+3+3+3) vs 8 = Stand
  10. 16 (2+2+3+3+3+3) vs 8 = Stand
  11. 16 (3+3+3+3+3+a) vs 9 = Stand
  12. 16 (3+3+3+3+2+2) vs 9 = Stand
  13. 16 (4+4+4+2+a+a) vs 9 = Stand
  14. 16 (4+4+3+3+a+a) vs 9 = Stand
  15. 16 (4+4+3+2+2+a) vs 9 = Stand
  16. 16 (4+3+3+3+2+a) vs 9 = Stand
  17. 16 (4+4+2+2+2+2) vs 9 = Stand
  18. 16 (4+3+3+2+2+2) vs 9 = Stand
  19. 16 (5+5+3+a+a+a) vs 9 = Stand
  20. 16 (5+4+4+a+a+a) vs 9 = Stand
  21. 16 (5+5+2+2+a+a) vs 9 = Stand
  22. 16 (5+4+3+2+a+a) vs 9 = Stand
  23. 16 (5+3+3+3+a+a) vs 9 = Stand
  24. 16 (5+4+2+2+2+a) vs 9 = Stand
  25. 16 (5+3+3+2+2+a) vs 9 = Stand
  26. 16 (5+3+2+2+2+2) vs 9 = Stand
  27. 16 (6+6+A+A+A+A) vs 10 = Hit
  28. 16 (6+3+2+2+2+A) vs 10 = Hit
  29. 16 (6+2+2+2+2+2) vs 10 = Hit

Methodology

The fine points of basic strategy was determined using a combinatronic and recursive program that made the optimal play at every step considering the exact distribution of remaining cards. This program was also used to create the basic strategy charts for one and multiple decks.

Internal Links

  • Blackjack main page.
  • Appendix 1:Total dependent expected return table for an infinite deck.
  • Appendix 2a:Dealer probabilities after dealer peeks for blackjack.
  • Appendix 2b:Dealer probabilities before dealer peeks for blackjack.
  • Appendix 3a:Composition dependent exceptions to single deck basic strategy where the dealer stands on soft 17.
  • Appendix 3b:Composition dependent exceptions to double deck basic strategy where the dealer stands on soft 17.
  • Appendix 3c:Composition dependent exceptions to single deck basic strategy where the dealer hits a soft 17.
  • Appendix 4:Details on the standard deviation in blackjack.
  • Appendix 5:Infinite deck expected return according to player hand and dealer up card.
  • Appendix 6:Fine points of when to surrender.
  • Appendix 7:Effect of card removal.
  • Appendix 8:Analysis of some popular blackjack side bets includingSuper Sevens, Streak, Royal Match, and a tie.
  • Appendix 9:Composition dependent expected returns for 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, and 8 decks.
  • Appendix 10:The effect on the house edge of the continuous shuffling machines vs. the cut card.
  • Appendix 11: Value and strategy for 678 and 777 bonuses.
  • Appendix 12:Risk of ruin statistics.
  • Appendix 13:Probabilities in the first four cards. May be used to test for the number of decks in online blackjack.
  • Appendix 14:Value of each initial player card.
  • Appendix 15:House edge using total dependent vs composition dependent basic strategy
  • Appendix 16: Basic strategy when dealer exposes both cards.
  • Appendix 17: The Ace-Five Count. Possibly the easiest way to count cards.
  • Appendix 18: Basic strategy exceptions for three to six cards.
  • Appendix 19: Blackjack splitting strategy when a back-player is betting.
  • Appendix 20: Blackjack doubling strategy, when doubling after splitting aces is allowed.
  • Appendix 21: Details on the Wizard's Simple Strategy.
  • "21" Movie — Truth and Fiction : My comments on the movie "21."
  • Australian Blackjack: Rules and odds for blackjack down under.
  • Introduction to Card Counting
  • Rule Variations: The effect of just about every known blackjack rule change.
  • Automatic Winner Charlie Rule in Blackjack.


Written by: Michael Shackleford

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