Blackjack: When to Hit and When to Stand

At a glance, blackjack can look like a pretty simple game. You and the dealer are each dealt two cards, and whoever gets closest to 21 wins. Easy peasy! But blackjack is all about strategy!

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Hard and Soft Hands in Blackjack

BlackjackThe difference between hard and soft hands is important when deciding whether to hit or stand after seeing your initial two cards. The goal of blackjack is to get a hand value higher than the dealer’s hand value without going above 21 to win. You can also win if the dealer busts. A dealer busts when they go over 21.

Hard Hand

There are two basic hands in blackjack: one without an ace and those with one.

  • If a player is dealt an ace, it counts as a hard hand when the ace counts as 1.
  • If you have a hard hand without an ace, like a 10 and a 6, it makes a hard 16.

Soft Hand

If you have an ace, you have a soft hand, which you can count as either 11 or one. However, if you have a soft hand (i.e., a combined total of 16 or less), your hand can’t bust.

Knowing the difference between hard and soft hands can help you decide which move is best for your current situation. Should you risk taking another card and busting, or should you play conservatively and stand?

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When Should You Hit or Stand in Blackjack?

You’ve just gotten a pair of cards in blackjack, and now you’re wondering what to do next. Do you hit, or do you stand?

It depends! The rules are fairly simple: hit if the dealer’s face-up card is low. However, there are some nuances to these basic blackjack rules that’ll help you figure out whether to hit or stand.

In general, the most important rule is to check the dealer’s face-up card before you make any decision about hitting or standing. The higher that card is, the more likely the dealer has a blackjack (a hand with an Ace and a face card or 10).

You’ll also want to pay attention to the number of decks in use at your table; if there are multiple decks, your chances of getting dealt a blackjack are lower than if there were only one deck.

When to Hit and Stand With a Hard Hand

If you’re dealt a hard hand in blackjack, you don’t have an ace in your hand. It can make your choice whether to hit or stand tricky: sometimes, it’s unclear what you should do. See the following list for some general rules of thumb you can follow.

  1. If the value of your cards is between 17 and 21, you want to stand.
  2. If the value of your cards is between eight and 16, you want to hit.
  3. If the value of your cards is less than eight, or it’s a soft hand above 18, then it depends on the dealer’s face-up card.
  4. If it’s two through six: hit
  5. If it’s seven through ace: stand

When to Hit and Stand With a Soft Hand

When it comes to when you should hit or stand with a soft hand (a hand in which you can count an ace as 11 without going over 21), there are no hard-and-fast rules. If you’re going to play at a blackjack casino, you need to know the basic strategy for playing a soft hand.

  1. You should hit it every time if your total is less than 17.
  2. If your total is exactly 17 or more, you should stand every time.

The importance of this rule is that it doesn’t matter what the dealer has shown (their face-up card). What makes a soft hand tricky is that your chances of busting are lower than with a hard hand, but you’re also unlikely to hit 21, which means your chance of winning is lower.

The Basic Blackjack Strategy to Follow

There are many different blackjack strategies that’ll help you learn how to play blackjack, but some are more complicated than others. If you’re new to the game—or just looking for a simple way to play—this blackjack chart should be what you need!

Dealer face-up card value
Hard Hand Value
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A
17 – 21  STAND
13 – 16
STAND STAND STAND STAND STAND HIT HIT HIT HIT HIT
12
HIT HIT STAND STAND STAND HIT HIT HIT HIT HIT
11 and under HIT
Dealer face-up card value
Soft Hand Value
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A
A + 8 or 9 STAND
A + 7
STAND STAND STAND STAND STAND STAND STAND HIT HIT HIT
A + 2 – 6 HIT
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What Are Your Other Options in Blackjack?

Blackjack rules and strategies will help you play the game better. The blackjack basic strategy is important, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. If you want to become a serious player, you should understand your possible moves at blackjack online. There are three important non-stand options in blackjack:

Split

You can split identical cards (like a pair of 10s) into two separate hands. You double your bet and get another card for each hand.

Double Down

You will only get one more card if you double down. This option is only available after the first two cards are dealt with, and you can double down on any total, including 11.

Surrender

Surrender is an optional rule in some casinos where you can forfeit half of your original bet after the first two cards are dealt if you think your chances of winning are slim.

Blackjack: Odds and Probabilities

Blackjack odds and probabilitiesFirst, let’s define “bust.” In most blackjack games, a hand that totals more than 21 is a bust. The player has a 64% chance of going bust if they have 16 or less and a dealer face card is still in play.

If the player has a hand value between 17 and 21, they have a 64% chance that the dealer will beat their hand. And that’s why it’s important to remember the blackjack dealer rules, odds and probabilities. In land-based casinos or real money blackjack live games, players aren’t allowed to do blackjack card counting.

Blackjack Chance of Going Bust

Value of first two cards
(not including soft hands)
Cards required to go bust Approximate chance of going bust
11 or less N/A 0%
12 From 10 to K 31.0%
13 From 9 to K 38.6%
14 From 8 to K 56.2%
15 From 7 to K 58.1%
16 From 6 to K 61.6%
17 From 5 to K 69.2%
18 From 4 to K 76.9%
19 From 3 to K 84.6%
20 From 2 to K 92.3%

The probability of a blackjack occurring is 4.8% or one in 21 hands. The reason for this is that there are only four cards in the deck which can make up the first two cards dealt with by a dealer (an ace-ten value card).

Facts

  1. Blackjack is a popular casino game that is played with a standard 52-card deck.
  2. The objective of the game is to beat the dealer’s hand by having a higher point total without going over 21.
  3. Points are calculated by adding together the values of the cards in a player’s hand.
  4. The Ace card has a value of either 1 or 11, depending on what is more beneficial for the player.
  5. The game is usually played with 1-8 decks of cards, with the dealer holding all the cards face down.
  6. Players can choose to hit (take another card), stand (keep their current hand), double down (double their bet and take one more card), or split (divide their hand into two separate hands) on their turn.
  7. If a player goes over 21, they automatically lose the game, regardless of the dealer’s hand.
  8. The dealer must hit on 16 and stand on 17.

Statistics

  1. The average blackjack player loses about €5 per hour.
  2. Basic strategy can reduce the house edge to as low as 0.5%.
  3. Players who use basic strategy can expect to lose about €1 per hour.
  4. Players who do not use basic strategy can expect to lose about €5 per hour.
  5. Most online blackjack games have a house edge of between 0.5% and 1%.

References

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The article complies with all editorial principles of Casinoireland.com. In case of inaccurate information, please contact the Casinoireland.com editorial team.

Frequently asked questions

  • The house edge with a 16 is about double the edge of a hard 17, so if you can afford to play it safe, you should surrender the 16. However, if your opponents have strong cards and you may need to stand, then hit and hope for an ace or deuce.

  • You can surrender your hand in blackjack after the first two cards have been dealt. You should surrender if you have a hard 15 against a dealer 10 and a hard 16 against a dealer nine, 10, or Ace. You should also surrender if you have a hard 17 against an Ace. In some casinos, you can also surrender if you have a soft 17.

  • If both the player and the dealer have a blackjack, the one with the highest value wins (in most casinos). If none of them has blackjack, then it depends on who has won the most cards or if they are tied, depending on whether there’s an ace in your hand or not.

  • A shoe is a device that allows the dealer to slide out one card at a time. In some casinos, the shoe will hold multiple decks of cards. The shoe is usually plastic and can be seen in almost all blackjack games.

  • There is no one answer to this question as it depends on a number of factors, including the game you are playing, the odds offered by the house, your level of skill, and luck. However, in general, the odds of winning are usually against the player, especially in casino games.

  • There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the best strategies for winning will vary depending on the game you are playing, your skill level, and the goals you are hoping to achieve. However, here are a few general tips that may help you to come out on top more often: Practice, practice, practice. The more you play, the better you will become at identifying and capitalizing on opportunities to win.

  • There are a number of common mistakes made by blackjack players, which can lead to them losing money or not winning as much as they could have. One common mistake is not knowing when to hit or stand. Players should hit when the dealer has a low card showing, and stand when the dealer has a high card showing. However, many players get confused and hit when they should stand, or stand when they should hit. This costs them money in the long run.

  • Assuming you would like tips on playing blackjack online: The first step is finding an online casino that suits your needs. There are many different types of online casinos, so it’s important to do your research before settling on one. Once you’ve found a reputable casino, the next step is creating an account. This process is usually pretty straightforward and shouldn’t take more than a few minutes.

  • There are a few things to consider when choosing an online blackjack game. The first is the house edge. This is the percentage of each bet that the casino expects to keep over the long run. A lower house edge means better odds for the player. The second thing to consider is the betting limits. Some games have very high limits, while others have more modest limits. Choose a game that fits your budget. The third thing to consider is the number of decks in use.

  • Assuming you are asking about the basic rules of blackjack, the object of the game is to beat the dealer’s hand by having a higher point total without going over 21. All face cards are worth 10 points, aces are worth 1 or 11 points (player’s choice), and all other cards are worth their numeric value. To start a hand, each player must place a bet.

  • There are a number of ways to play blackjack online. One can find online casinos that offer blackjack games, or one can find online blackjack games that can be played for free. When looking for online casinos that offer blackjack games, it is important to make sure that the casino is reputable and offers a fair game. There are a number of ways to do this, such as reading online reviews of the casino, or checking with the Better Business Bureau.

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Higher education in research journalism
Favorite game is Katana
Noah is an iGaming industry expert with 10 years of experience. He started his career as a game presenter. Noah currently works for Casinoireland.com and provides readers with quality and verified information on licensed casinos in Ireland. One of the most important aspects Noah pays attention to is responsible play. He stands for fair and safe play.

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