Playing 10 vs. 9 in Blackjack

Here's the situation:

You're involved in a multiple deck game where you can double down on 10 or 11. You get dealt a seven and a three for a two-card total of ten, while the dealer gives himself a nine as an upcard.

Having ten is certainly one of the strongest positions you can find yourself in at the outset of a round. So you figure this might be a circumstance where you can take advantage of getting more money down on the table.

Are you right in that way of thinking? What is your proper play - hit or double?

You are correct if you double this hand.

Some people may be a little scared by the presence of a nine as the dealer's upcard, because the dealer can indeed make a hand out of this situation. What happens with the nine? Well, with a nine showing, the dealer gets 19 or better 53% of the time, and will have a "pat" (standing) hand in 77% of all instances.

But remember that ten is a very strong starting point for the player. There are a lot of cards you can get "pat" with - 7,8,9,10,J,Q,K, and of course, the Ace. The dealer has less cards he can benefit from - obviously, the seven does him no good at all.

If you choose not to double this hand you're going to win 50% of the hands, with 38.5% losses (the rest being pushes). That's a 12.5% edge, compared to just 7% if you double. But remember, for hitting to be the preferable option, it would have to bring a win/loss ratio of hands which is twice that of doubling. It doesn't. So we double here.

US vs. THEM Blackjack Strategy Series
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By Charles Jay

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