Splitting and doubling down contribute significantly to the excitement of blackjack. They are also the aspects of the game that provide the participant with the highest likelihood of victory. The game known as “Power Blackjack” provides participants with nearly limitless opportunities to split and double down.
Played both online and in brick-and-mortar casinos in the United States, Power Blackjack permits splitting on two of the worst starting hands — any “hard” two-card total of 15 or 16. For instance, a 9 and a 6 or a Jack and a 5 can be divided into two new hands. The expense is simply an additional wager of the same size as the initial wager. The term for this is “Power Split.”
In addition, whenever players double down on totals of 9, 10, or 11, they are permitted to obtain a replacement card if they do not like the one they receive. For example, if a 4 is drawn to a total of 11, the player has the option to discard the 4 and draw a new card. The term for this is “Power Double.”
The Rules of Authority
The two aforementioned regulation changes provide players with a tremendous advantage. In fact, they would eliminate the House Edge entirely if not for a rule governing what occurs when the dealer busts that was implemented to counteract them. If the dealer busts with a total of precisely 22, all active players’ hands result in a “push,” meaning there is no winner or loser. All wagers that did not fail are returned.
The remaining rules of Power Blackjack adhere to the standard rules of the game, although there may be variations in the House Rules between casinos and between online and land-based games. Las Vegas rules, for instance, require the dealer to strike on soft 17, whereas online software rules typically require the dealer to stand on all 17s. Additionally, Power Doubles may be restricted to counts of 10 and 11.
Power Blackjack is typically played with six decks of 52 cards each. A winning natural “21” on two cards is referred to as a “blackjack” and pays 3 to 2. All other triumphs are compensated at odds-on. There is no provision for surrender.
The play of the hand also adheres to traditional Blackjack rules, beginning with a betting round before dealing two cards to each participant and the dealer. One of the dealer’s cards is dealt face down, while the other is exposed for all to see. The possible actions of the participants are hitting, standing, doubling down, and splitting. The play proceeds in a clockwise direction, commencing to the left of the dealer.
A Game of the Hand
After a split, nearly all variants of Power Blackjack permit doubling down. Some may also permit the re-splitting of up to four hands, but very few will permit the re-splitting of Aces, and some do not permit re-splitting at all.
As stated previously, the dealer must normally draw on totals of 16 or less and stand on totals of 17 or more. Some online casinos offer a variant of Power Blackjack that adheres to the “European no hole card” rule (ENHC); when a player gets a blackjack, the dealer retains all of the player’s wagers, including those placed when splitting or doubling.
When participating online, it is straightforward to determine when “Power” options are available. The control display will replace “Split” with “Power Split” and “Double Down” with “Power Double.” There is also no mistaking accomplishment. When a player’s hand triumphs, lightning-like electrical discharges also emanate from the cards.
Competing to Win
Extensive research on the optimal Power Blackjack strategy indicates that proper play can reduce the House Edge to as low as 0.23 percent. Strategically, this entails employing the Power options in nearly all permitted situations, and always when holding a total of 17 or less. There are three instances in which the player should not accept the Power Double:
- Remain standing on any 20 or 21.
- Stand on a total of 19, except with a two-card 11 up against a ten.
- Stand on a total of 18 with a 7 in view.
Wagerworks, the developer of the most popular online Power Blackjack software, has created strategy tables to assist participants in making the best decisions. Particularly noteworthy are its suggestions to use the Power Double on totals of soft 19 or soft 20 when confronting the dealer’s 2 through 8 card values. Contrary to conventional logic, this strategy turns a near-certain victor into a potential loser, according to calculations performed by experts.
However, fundamental strategy must be modified slightly when playing against Las Vegas rules in brick-and-mortar casinos. The recommended play is to stand on all totals of 19 or higher, regardless of the dealer’s hand. However, splitting options are a bit more liberal, such as separating a pair of 6s when the dealer has a 4 and any total of 16 when the dealer has an ace.