Advanced Single Deck Blackjack Composition-based Strategy

Single deck blackjack online offers some strategic adjustments that aren’t immediately apparent. While many players know that card counting doesn’t work in online games in multi-deck games, it can still influence the gameplay in many situations in single-deck online games.

Advanced Single Deck Blackjack Strategy: Composition-based Decisions

If you’re a fan of blackjack strategy, then you probably know that online games have a big problem. Because the cards are dealt immediately after each and every hand, card counting isn’t a very viable option. This is because you need to know the count several deals into a shoe of cards to be able to adjust your betting.

However, what many players don’t realize is that card counting can influence the decisions you make with your hand as well.

You don’t need to be multiple hands into a shoe, especially with a single-deck game, to take advantage of this. As a result, you have certain adjustments you can make to your play based on the composition of your hand. This is different than only looking at your total as a whole. Instead, the individual cards that make up your hand can have enough influence to shape how you should play certain key situations.

In the following, we’re going to give you an overview of how to apply these advanced strategies to your game. They can allow you to shave a little off of the house edge, which is already low to begin with.

Which Games Do These Strategies Apply To?

Generally speaking, any single deck blackjack game online can be vulnerable to the following concepts. However, some of the fringe cases may change slightly depending on some of the particular rules.

In particular, you want to look at games that have only one deck being used. However, if the dealer stands on a soft 17, and if the dealer always peeks for blackjack when showing an ace or ten-point card, you’ll know that these strategies apply for sure.

Microgaming’s Classic Blackjack is a good example of a game that this applies to that’s accessible to a lot of players. Additionally, Betsoft has a single-deck game that allows you to play up to three hands that’s also applicable here.

Playing Difficult Two-card Hard Hands

The single situation where advanced composition strategies apply in blackjack the most is when you have a hard 12 or 13 against a dealer showing six or lower. These are favorable situations for the player in general. However, you’re still left with a difficult decision.

In so many of these spots, you’re stuck trying to decide if you should hit or stand. Because it’s such a thin decision either way, the actual cards that make up your hand can affect things more than the total they actually create.

Playing a Hard 12 Against a Dealer 2-6

Players have four different possibilities here: 10-2, 9-3, 8-4 and 7-5. Note that the 6-6 combination doesn’t matter here since you’ll always split that against a dealer six or lower. However, the way you should play these spots depends on which combination of cards you have:

  • 10+2 – Only stand against a five. Hit against all other low cards.
  • 9+3 – You should only hit against a 2 or 3. The best option is to hit against a 4, 5 or 6.
  • 8+4, 7+5 – Only hit against a two, and stand against a 3, 4, 5 or 6.

As you can see, the correct strategy can vary quite a bit depending on which combination of cards you have in this spot.

Playing a Hard 13 Against a Dealer 2-6

Learning to play the hard 13 is a little easier than learning to play the hard 12. The reason for this is that you only have one deviation from basic strategy that you have to learn.

When you have the 10+3 combination specifically, you should hit against a dealer 2.

Outside of that, hard 13s should always be a situation where you stand against a dealer showing a low card (6 or lower).

What’s interesting is that this is the kind of spot where you can make the right play, but it will feel like you aren’t. That’s because your intuition will be screaming at you to stand with that hard 13. Additionally, if you’re trying to implement these strategies, you need to be careful about going on “auto pilot.” This can cause you to mess up by playing the traditional strategy for a total of 13 instead of adjusting to the 10+3 combination, for example.

Playing Difficult Three-card Hard Hands

Once you expand into the realm of playing three-card hands, things can get complicated really quickly. However, we’re not going to cover every little possibility here. That’s too nuanced and detailed to really be of much use to anyone. Instead, we want to look at the most important and most difficult situation you can face in blackjack: a hard 15 or 16 against a dealer showing 10.

Anyone familiar with blackjack knows the problem. It’s another situation much like the above where you have to decide whether to hit or stand. However, neither of those possibilities sound good. Additionally, in the above with 12 or 13, you’re in a good spot either way you play. More pressure is on you with 15 or 16, however, because both ways to play seem bad.

In this way, these three-card spots we’ll look at are more about minimizing the damage of being in a bad position than it is maximizing the value of being in a good one.

Playing Three-card 15-point Hands Against a Dealer 10

In these single-deck games, the general strategy with a hard 15 against a dealer showing 10 is to hit. That’s also the standard strategy for most games in general even with atypical rules or as many as eight decks.

However, you have three possibilities that can mean standing is actually the best option:

  • 6+6+3
  • 6+5+4
  • 5+5+5

What’s interesting is that you’ll normally arrive at all three of these spots from situations that were difficult themselves. For example, having 6+3 against a dealer 10, hitting, and then drawing another 6 feels like bad news. As a result, having confidence in how to play better in these spots can help you feel better about your game as well as having you play in an objectively better way.

Playing Three-card 16-point Hands Against a Dealer 10

The bane of every blackjack player’s existence is playing a hard 16 against a dealer showing a ten. If you’re against an ace, at least it’s clear that hitting is correct. However, against a 10, it seems like you’re in a bad spot no matter what you do.

Thankfully, you can get some clarity in these spots with single-deck games by paying attention to the composition of cards.

Generally speaking, you should be standing as a default in single-deck games with 16 against a dealer 10. However, in some situations, it’s best to hit instead:

  • 9+6+A
  • 8+6+2
  • 7+6+3
  • 6+6+4

You’ll notice that all of these situations involve sixes being removed from the deck. That’s because sixes coming out of the deck makes it less likely for the dealer to bust. However, since the dealer busting is the only way you can win when standing on a hard 16, sixes coming out of the deck really hurts the case of you standing in the first place.

That’s why when you see sixes in your hand like this, you should be more likely to hit a hard 16.

Putting It All Together

Historically, single deck blackjack has allowed for a lot of extra strategic possibilities over other styles of the game. That trend has carried over to the online environment even though you don’t have the same opportunities to count cards. As a result, composition-based strategies like this are still very effective.

It’s also important to know that casinos can’t really protect against them either. There’s not really a good way to prevent them like what they’ve done with card counting. Even in live dealer games, they can avoid being that vulnerable to counting by simply going shallow into the shoe.

With the single-deck games online, however, it doesn’t really matter if they’re live or not. You can use basic strategy along with adjustments using this type of composition-based approach to chip away at the house advantage quite a bit.