Blackjack Strategy: Hit or Stand?
Blackjack is one of the most popular casino games around and we have all had the age-old conundrum – do you hit or do you stand?
Making that big call can take some time, but with the help of a blackjack strategy, you can cut that down and improve your likelihood of success.
When to hit or stand in blackjack?
When playing blackjack there are two options – to hit or to stand.
To hit is an instruction given by players to the dealer to request an extra card and can be indicated in verbal form or by simply tapping the table.
To stand is to hold your total and end your turn. You can do this by waving your hand horizontally.
Whether you should hit or stand always depends on the dealer’s blackjack hand.
One of the worst case scenarios is when the dealer has an ace. In this case you should try to get a good hand of 17 or above as the dealer is likely to have a strong hand considering they have a big chance of hitting a 10-value-card (10, Jack, Queen, King).
If the dealer’s card is a 10-value-card, you still need a strong hand. It is best to hit when holding a hand of 10 or 12-16, and stand on anything 17 and over. An ace gives you a good chance of making 21 with a hit.
When a dealer has a seven, eight or nine card it is impossible for them to make a blackjack, so your chances increase. However, they can still get a better hand of 17 or more so you will again need a strong hand to compete. When holding nine or less or 12-16 it’s best to hit, but stand on a total of 17 or more.
If the dealer’s card is a four, five or six it is vital you do not bust. It is common practice to hit on eight or less, but stand on anything 12 or higher.
When the dealer has a three, you should hit on anything eight or below and 12, while standing on anything 13 or over.
If the dealer has a two it is best to hit on nine or less and stand on anything 13 or over.
When to double down or split in blackjack?
Double down refers to a player doubling a bet after seeing your initial cards. Upon doubling down, one additional card must be drawn.
Generally, it only makes sense to double down when your hand value is equal to 10 or 11. This is due to you having a 30.7% chance of hitting another 10-value card and therefore making a high hand.
If your two cards initially dealt are pairs, you are offered the chance to split and you must indicate this immediately as the decision cannot be taken later.
If you choose to split, your cards will be split into two standards hands as you match the original bet with a second wager, meaning you now have the chance to double your winnings, and alternatively, your losses.
In online and live blackjack it is always advisable to split if you have a pair of aces or eights. The reason behind that is because there are more 10-value cards than any other in the deck and statistically there is a good chance of hitting at least one 21 when splitting aces.
Also, two hands of eight are easier to play when than one hand of 16, where you have a very small chance of winning.
When dealt a nine the statistics tell you it is best to split as long as the dealer has a two, three, four, five, six, eight or nine. However, it is best to stand if the dealer has a seven, 10 or ace.
If you have a pair of sixes and the dealer has a card between two and six, the best option is to split. When you have a pair of sevens and the dealer has a card between two and seven it is also best to split.
For a pair of fours when the dealer has a five or six, you should split, but in any other situation it is best to take another card.
For pairs of twos or threes, split when the dealer has a card between two and seven, but if not, it is best to hit.
When you have a pair of fours and a dealer has a five or six then it is best to split.
Blackjack strategy chart
Using some basic blackjack strategy can help you work out when it is bet to hit or stand.
The chart below is based on the fact that the surrender option is not available.
The left hand column of the chart is where you will find the dealer’s hand, while the rest of the columns show whether you should hit or stand depending on what hand you have been dealt.
Top blackjack strategy mistakes
When you boil the game down to its simplest form you may think it is easy – all you have to do is make sure you reach 21.
However, you need to know what mistakes to avoid, and here are just some of the common ones to avoid.
Table’s minimum bet
Before starting, it is best to take into account the table’s minimum bet and w look for the lowest minimum stake you can find in order to maximise your exposure to blackjack, but also limiting any potential losses as you learn the game.
Know your hand signals
Unlike you see in some movies and TV shows you simply cannot tell the dealer ‘hit me’ or ‘I stay’.
Using signals prevents any misunderstandings and can also be used for surveillance purposes in case of any dispute.
Here are the symbols you need to know:
- To hit – scratch the table with your index finger
- To stand – wave your hand over your cards.
- To double down – Put out your extra money (It can be no more than your original bet) and flash the No.1 sign behind your cards.
- To split – Exactly match your original bet and make a V sign with your first two fingers.
Value of an Ace
The ace has two values – one and 11, so you have to take that into considering when you either hit or stand.
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