Power Blackjack Strategy

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ShuffleMaster is one of the world’s leading companies in developing new variations of familiar table games. Their approach has been to pay close attention to what players want and then come up with new versions that directly address their desires. Such is the case with “Power Blackjack,” an innovative twist on the traditional game of “21” that allows players to double down and trade the card they receive for another card if they are not satisfied with the one they are dealt. It also provides an intriguing option for splitting cards that would otherwise result in a poor hand.

The Basic Rules

Most of the rules applied to Power Blackjack are identical to those of the standard six-deck game, although some modifications have been made by individual casinos as well as by WagerWorks in creating an online version. A natural blackjack pays the customary 3:2, the player may split up to four hands, split Aces receive one card and doubling down after splitting is allowed. The original rules call for the dealer to stand on any total of 17, but in most land-based casinos, the dealer hits on soft 17.

Where the fun begins is with the “Power Double.” It is allowed on hard counts of 10 or 11, so that if the player doesn’t like the third card, it can be exchange for the next card in the shoe. Whenever the player takes this option, the unwanted third card is placed in the discard pile. In most casinos, the Power Double cannot be applied to soft hands, but be sure to check the House rules as it may be also available on counts of hard nine.

The other big difference in this game is the ability to “Power Split” any hard total of 15 or 16, such as 8-7 or J-6. A Power Split is performed just like an ordinary split, even though the initial two cards are not of the same rank. After the split, the two new hands play by the same rules for re-splitting and doubling down as pairs do.

Note that these two advantages for the player come at a cost. Any time the dealer busts with a total of exactly 22, the result is a push on all hands, regardless of their values. This rule applies to natural blackjacks as well any hand the player holds that is valued at 21 or less.

Playing Strategy

The key to success in playing Power Blackjack is to know when to take advantage of the Power Double and Power Split options. In general, the Power Double should be taken on any hard count of 10 or 11 no matter what up card the dealer is showing. One exception is to simply hit when holding 10 facing the dealer’s Ace up. If a Power Double is allowed on hard 9, do so in all case except facing the dealers ten, face card or Ace.

After receiving the third card, the best action is to keep it if the result is a total of 20 or 21 facing any card or 18 facing the dealer’s seven. When the result is 19, hold it unless the initial cards totaled 11 and the dealer shows a card valued at 10. Otherwise, the correct play is to draw a replacement card.

As for the Power Split, always split totals of 15 or 16 when the dealer’s up card is two through nine with one exception: hit an 8-7 facing the dealer’s nine. If the dealer shows an Ace, ten or face card, Power Split only 10-6, 10-5 or 9-6; otherwise hit. Any pair of fives, of course, should be treated as hard 10 and not split.

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