What follows is the correct way to play any blackjack hand dealt to you when the dealer’s upcard is a 4. The strategy is not that difficult to remember since it is virtually the same regardless of the number of decks of cards being used and the mix of playing rules. In one instance, however, it also depends on the composition of the cards that comprise your hand and the number of decks of cards being used.
I’ll begin explaining the strategy using a base game, specifically, a multi-deck game with S17 and DAS. I’ll use the following standard notations. This strategy is good for both offline and online blackjack.
S17 = Dealer must stand on soft 17
H17 = Dealer must hit soft 17
DAS = Doubling down after pair splitting is allowed
NDAS = Doubling down after pair splitting is not allowed
H = Hit
S = Stand
P = Split
Dh = Double down if allowed; otherwise, hit
Ds = Double down if allowed; otherwise, stand
MULTI-DECK GAME WITH S17 AND DAS
Against a dealer’s 4 upcard, you should play your hands as follows.
Hit if holding:
- Hard 5 through 8
- A-2 and A-3
- Pair of 4s
Stand if holding:
Split if holding:
- Pair of As, 2s, 3s, and 6s through 9s.
Double down if allowed, otherwise hit, if holding:
- Hard 9, 10, and 11
- A-4, A-5, and A-6
- Pair of 5s
Double down if allowed, otherwise stand, if holding:
Below is the corresponding playing strategy arranged into three color-coded tables for Hard Hands, Soft Hands, and Pairs. The first row represents the player’s hand (in the case of hard hands, it represents the total count of the cards), and the second row contains the correct playing strategy against a dealer’s 4 upcard with S17 and DAS.
WHAT IF THE RULES ARE NDAS INSTEAD OF DAS OR H17 INSTEAD OF S17?
You are in luck because the above strategy is the same, meaning:
- When the dealer shows a 4 upcard, regardless of the mix of blackjack rules in a multi-deck game, you can use the above playing strategy.
WHAT IF YOU ARE PLAYING A DOUBLE-DECK GAME?
More good news! The blackjack strategy for any double-deck game is identical to the corresponding multiple-deck game except for one change:
- If the rules specify h17 (with either DAS or NDAS), you should double down A-3, if allowed, otherwise hit.
WHAT IF YOU ARE PLAYING A SINGLE-DECK GAME?
Compared to the above multi-deck playing strategy, there are several strategy changes:
- Regardless of the mix of rules, double down A-2 and A-3 (instead of hitting) if allowed; otherwise, hit.
- If the rules specify DAS, split a pair of 4s (instead of hitting)
FOR MORE PRECISION
You can gain some precision in your playing accuracy if you take into consideration the composition of the cards that comprise your 12 against a dealer’s 4 upcard.
- In a single- or double-deck game with any mix of playing rules, hit 10-2 against a dealer’s 4 upcard (rather than stand), and
- In an eight-deck game with S17, hit 10-2 against a dealer 4 upcard (rather than stand).
To be sure you have the strategy down pat for playing your hand against a dealer’s 4 upcard, determine how you would play each of the 10 hands listed below, jot down your decision on paper, and then check it against the correct play at the end of this article. (Your goal is to be able to play every hand accurately, regardless of the number of decks of cards or mix of playing rules.)
|1.||Single-deck, H17, NDAS||2-2|
|2.||Multi-deck, S17, DAS||A-5|
|3.||Double-deck, H17, DAS||A-3|
|4.||Multi-deck, H17, DAS||4-4|
|5.||Eight-deck, S17, DAS||10-2|
|6.||Single-deck, H17, NDAS||A-2|
|7.||Double-deck, S17, DAS||6-2|
|8.||Multi-deck, H17, DAS||A-7|
|9.||Eight-deck, H17, DAS||9-3|
|10.||Double-deck, S17, NDAS||6-6|
For more playing strategy tips, consult Blackjack Charts chapter in my Ultimate Blackjack Strategy Guide.
Correct plays for the hands in the table are:
|2.||Double down if allowed, otherwise, hit|
|3.||Double down if allowed, otherwise, hit|
|5.||Hit (composition-dependent strategy)|
|6.||Double down if allowed, otherwise, hit|
|8.||Double down if allowed, otherwise, stand|