The Foundations of European Blackjack Strategy
February 22, 2014
There are certain foundations of blackjack strategy that never change. For example, you're always going to be aggressive with hitting and doubling when you have soft hands against weak dealer cards. You're also going to always stand a lot when you hold a hard hand that's facing a weak dealer card. These general principles help you to play the majority of hands, and it only requires that you learn about the fringe cases if you want to really become an expert at how basic strategy for blackjack works on a high level. However, sometimes you have to learn additional foundations of strategy for specific types of blackjack.
This is the case with European blackjack because of a specific rule change. The rule change is that there is no peeking for blackjack by the dealer in any situation. Typically, the dealer checks for blackjack before you have a chance to split or double. However, in European blackjack, this is not the case. The end result is that when it gets to the point in the game that you have the option to make either of these plays, the dealer's hand is much stronger than it would normally be. What this means for you is that you're going to have to be particularly conservative when doubling or splitting if you're facing a ten or an ace.
One of the things that online casinos are relying on with European blackjack is players who think they know all about blackjack coming in and playing a lot without realizing that it requires a much different strategy in these types of scenarios. This has the result of giving the casinos a larger advantage in the game, and most players won't ever know the difference. If you play according to this advice, however, then you'll maintain your high payout rate.
In short, you should never double with any hand in any circumstance in European blackjack when you're up against a dealer showing an ace or a ten. As far as splitting goes, you'll only ever split against a ten in one special case, and you'll never split against an ace no matter what. If you have two aces, then you have a small advantage when you split against a ten even with the European blackjack special rules. The reason for this is that the higher payouts for blackjack tilt the odds slightly in your favor.