The Detailed Approach to European Blackjack

European blackjack is a very special variation of this game because of a couple of key rules that drastically change how you have to approach the game. The first is that you can only double when you have a hard total of nine, ten or eleven, so doubling with soft hands and almost all paired hands is out the window. You also never have the dealer peaking for blackjack no matter what his up card happens to be, so you’ll have to be particularly conservative when facing a ten or ace. Because of these differences, it’s really important to pay attention to how this changes the details of the game.

First off, let’s look at when you should be doubling. If you have a hard nine, you should double if you’re against weak dealer cards (six and lower) other than a two. A dealer two is just slightly too strong to double against with a nine. However, if you have a hard 10 or 11, then double against all cards that are nine or lower. You aren’t going to double against a ten or ace because of the no peek rule. This includes pairs of fives.

Next up, let’s look at how soft hands are played. Without doubling, it’s really simple to sum up all of soft hand play. With hands that have a total of 17 or lower, you will always be hitting. For hands with a total of 19 or higher, you will always be standing. Playing a soft 18 in European blackjack can go either way. If you’re up against an eight or lower, then stand. When you’re up against a nine or higher, then go ahead and hit because you need to be more aggressive and try to get a stronger total.

Finally, there are some considerations to be had for the no-peek rule. Under no circumstances will you ever double against a ten or an ace. This is because there is a much higher chance of the dealer having blackjack than in games where the dealer peeks for blackjack. With paired hands, there is only one specific, distinct scenario where you’re going to split up against a ten or ace. This scenario is when you have a pair of aces against a ten. The rule about always splitting aces and eights does not strictly apply in this game. You never split eights against a ten or ace, and you do not split aces against an ace (you hit instead).

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