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Composition-dependent strategy

Basic blackjack strategy is also known as total-dependent as it relies mainly on the total value of the player's hand and the dealer's face-up card. It may be seen as not very effective strategy as it actually leaves out the composition of the hand. That is why an improvement was introduced in a composition-dependent blackjack strategy, according to which the very composition of the card hand is important for making player decisions while playing blackjack.

For example, with a total hand value of 12, when the dealer has 4, it is advisable to stand. According to the composition-dependent strategy, the player should consider the combination of cards in his or her hand. For example, with a 12 composed of 9 and 3 or 7 and 5 the player's actions will remain the same. But if the 12 is made by 10 and 2, the player is advised to hit. The player's odds of exceeding 21 decrease in such case, as the only opportunity to go bust with a 10 is to get another 10, which is less likely now.

The use of composition-dependent strategy

There is a whole set of conditions for a composition strategy to work:

  • Single deck. It is important to note that composition-dependent strategy is more useful in blackjack games with fewer decks in play. If the number of decks increases, the difference between the total-dependent and the composition-dependent strategies will smooth over. For example, in a game with six decks, house edge will decrease by only 0.0031%, while in single-deck blackjack it will be cut down by approximately 0.04%.
  • Dealer standing on "Soft 17". The dealer is supposed to stand when reaching a total hand value of 17 including an Ace - "Soft 17", which increases the player's advantage by about 0.2%.
  • No re-splitting is allowed. Some casinos offer an opportunity to re-split when the player draws another pair to any of his already split hands. To use composition-dependent strategy, re-splitting should be prohibited. The casino's advantage increases by approximately 0.3%.
  • Double after split is allowed. The player is able to double his or her bet and draw another card to both hands after splitting. In such case the house edge decreases by about 0.13 %.
  • Only one card is hit after splitting the Aces. It is most common for the casinos to prohibit drawing more than 1 card to any of the split Aces. This increases house edge by about 0.13%.

If you correctly apply composition-dependent strategy, you are likely to increase your advantage over the casino by about 0.15% and eventually get better blackjack probabilities to profit in the game of blackjack.