How To Play Your Aces in Blackjack

min read
A close up shot of an Ace of Hearts, an Ace of Clubs, an Ace of Spades, and an Ace of Diamonds playing cards, neatly arranged on top of red and blue poker chips.
BetMGM Feb 07, 2024, 8:22 AM

The ace is by far the most powerful card in the game of blackjack. In fact, in most table games, the ace is a potent and versatile card that can win or lose hands. Knowing how to play a single or pair of aces will make an enormous difference to your success when you play online blackjack or head to the casino and join a table in a live dealer blackjack game.

What Value Does An Ace Have?

What makes the ace so unique in blackjack is that it can represent one of two different values. It can be worth just one, or it can be worth 11. Given that the game’s objective is to beat the dealer and reach 21 without going bust or the dealer getting there first, this is an important quality for a card to have.

How To Play a Single Ace

If you’re dealt just one ace in your hand, how you move forward with your play depends on the other card. Don’t forget you can hit (take another card), stand (stop with the cards you have), surrender (throw your hand in and forfeit half your bet), or double down (double your original bet, taking one more card only). It’s up to you which value — one or 11 — you attribute to the ace. If you have an ace and a 5, it means you’re sitting with a total of either six or 16. In this case, the 16 is called a “soft” 16, as you can change the value of the ace again if you decide to be dealt another card. This means that if you decide to hit, and you get a card with a value of higher than five, you’re bust, and it’s game over for you, or the ace reverts to the value of one, and you can potentially hit again.

Hit Or Stand When You Have an Ace?

Even though you have an ace, it’s a common misconception that it will be your trump card — many poker players have made the mistake of overestimating their pocket aces only to go on to lose the game. Similarly, in a live dealer blackjack game or when you’re playing your best online blackjack, squandering an ace is a rookie mistake.

Use the ace to your advantage. You can, after all, see the dealer’s hand, and this is what you must base your gameplay strategy on. The objective is to get a total higher than the dealer’s but without going bust, meaning your cards’ value exceeds 21. You can’t bust a soft score when you pull a third card because your ace will revert to a value of one if the third card takes you over the 21 threshold.

If you have a soft 19 (A–8) or 20 (A–9), definitely stand. With a soft 18, you may need to weigh up your odds against the dealer’s hand and make a judgment call. If your soft total is 17 or lower, you should hit.

An ace with a 10 or a face card is a winning hand of 21.

How To Play a Pair of Aces

If you’re dealt a pair of aces, there is only one reasonable course of action, and that’s to split them. Splitting is when you separate the first two cards you have been dealt to create two new hands and require an additional wager on the second hand. You can only split if you have two of a kind, but that’s not to say that all pairs should be split. Also, only players can split, never the dealer. If the dealer draws two aces, the first one has an automatic value of 11. But if you’re dealt two aces, always split. If you’re playing live dealer casino games, the signal to the dealer that you want to split is to point with two fingers at your original bet or simply place the same number of chips next to your bet.

Once you’ve split, you have two hands, each with an ace, and are ready to play on. 

If you’re lucky enough to be dealt a 10 — and don’t forget there are more cards with a value of ten in blackjack than any other value, being the 10 of each suit and three face cards per suit, making 22 cards worth 10 in a single deck — you’ve hit the magic 21.

Doubling Down With Aces

Doubling down is a strategy used by players to make the game more exciting and to increase their chances of winning. It means doubling your original bet in the middle of a hand, but it also means you can only be dealt one more card. Before you double down on a split hand, check the casino rules, as some don’t allow it.

Because an ace holds two values, one and 11, doubling down on a hand, including an ace, is potentially worth the risk, depending on what the dealer’s holding.

Don’t forget the power of the ace. In online poker, it’s a lot more complicated than blackjack, and playing hands such as ace–3-suited can be extremely complex.

Make Your Ace Count

Join BetMGM and make every ace you’re dealt count when you play at a casino online. Live dealer online casino games, including poker and blackjack, plus a huge selection of slots, await you. Simply register to start playing.

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Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.