Live Dealer Blackjack is one of the most popular table games at Golden Nugget Casino, and for good reason. Not only is the action swift and the social atmosphere jovial, but the rules afford players a solid chance of walking away in the positive.
However, in order to truly maximize your chances of seeing a return on your investment, you’ll have to incorporate some sound decision making.
Here are a few tips to get you started.
#1 – Hit that soft 18
Hitting on a made hand may seem like a losing proposition, but there are times when it’s correct. In fact, in the instance that the dealer is showing a 9, Ten, or Ace, you’ll always want to take an extra card.
Think about it for a minute. Even if the dealer is sitting on a 9, any Ten, Jack, Queen, King, or Ace in the hole will result in her immediately winning the hand. That’s somewhere around a 38 percent chance of the dealer taking your money without breaking a sweat.
Of course should the dealer show a 9, it’s a push. And the only time you’re truly safe is when the dealer reveals an 8 for a made 17. Any card lower than an 8, she’ll take a hit and will have multiple avenues of drawing out on your 18.
By taking a hit on 18, you can get an Ace, 2, or 3, for an immediate improvement, or any Ten for the same hand. That’s a 54 percent chance to either improve or be no worse for wear. And the times you do draw poorly, you’ll receive a second chance.
Bottom line: 18 is not a winning hand against a dealer 9, Ten, or Ace. Take a hit when it’s soft.
#2 – Split those 8s
In the absence of the surrender option, players are advised to always split Aces and 8s — no exception. Most players adhere to this rule when the dealer is showing a 2 through 8, as they can immediately improve their hand to 18 or 19, which should be a winner.
However, many of these same players refrain from splitting 8s when the dealer is showing an 9, Ten, or Ace, with the justification that they’re going to lose two bets instead of one.
But that’s not necessarily the case. Look at it this way: A 16 against a dealer Ten is an abysmal situation, as only drawing a 4 or 5 will put you in an advantageous situation.
However, when you split 8s, you can hit a 2 or 3 for a favorable draw, or a Ten or Ace for a solid made hand. Worst case scenario, you draw a 4 through 8 and are essentially right back where you started, but no worse.
Bottom line: Splitting 8s against a Ten is still a negative expectation play, but it’s less negative than if you took a hit or stood on 16.
#3 – Never take insurance
Some Live Dealer Blackjack players will never take insurance on their bad hands but always on their good hands, reasoning that insurance is a means of protection.
This is faulty logic. Unless you’re card counting — not recommended these days — there is no scenario in which you want to take insurance.
It’s simple math really. Insurance pays 2:1, meaning the dealer will have to show a Ten one-third of the time for the player to break even.
But that Ten is only going to shop up 30.8 percent of the time, meaning for each dollar you spent on insurance you can only expect $0.92 back.
That’s a massive edge for the house, way higher than it is for double zero roulette and most NJ online casino slots. Don’t do it, even if the dealer has shown four blackjacks in a row — you’ll be burning good money.
Bottom line: Taking insurance or even money is never a good play, whether your starting hand total is 5 or 20.