When to Hit or Stand in Blackjack

blackjack hit or stand

One of the most important things to master in the game of blackjack is knowing when to hit or stand. To ‘hit’ means to request another card in order to get your total closer to 21. To ‘stand’ means to forfeit the option of taking another card because your hand is already equal to 21 or as close to 21 as it can be -in this case, the risk of going bust is too high.

Many people wrongly assume that the decision to hit or stand should be based on a gut feeling, and that deciding whether or not to hit or stand is purely guess work. What these players don’t realise is that blackjack is a mathematical game, and as such, the probability of various outcomes can actually be calculated. Luckily for you, a computer has already done the hard work for you-hence the existence of the blackjack strategy chart.

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Practice Using the Chart

Now, we’re not saying that winning is guaranteed simply by making the exact moves that the chart tells you to make; blackjack is a game that requires a good dose of luck as well as skill. But if you use the chart correctly, your probability of beating the odds is greatly improved. The next time that you play a few rounds of blackjack at one of the awesome online casinos that we recommend here, keep the chart by your side. You’ll be surprised at how quickly your gameplay improves. However, before you go rushing off to play, we’re going to take you through the basic rules for when to hit and when to stand in order to help you better understand the blackjack chart.

In a game of blackjack, the player and the dealer are dealt two cards each. The player’s cards are dealt face down for only the player to see, but the dealer’s cards are dealt one face down and one face up. The most important element of gameplay for you to grasp is that any decision you make should factor in the dealer’s upturned card. When you look at the blackjack chart you’ll notice that it’s a grid, and it shows every possible combination of the player’s cards (running down the left hand side of the grid) and the dealers card (running along the top of the grid). The chart then tells you when to hit or stick according to the combination of player and dealer cards (or hands).

Decisions to Make Before You Hit or Stand

Even though knowing when to hit or stick can make the difference between winning and losing, it’s not the first decision that you need to make. The first decision is actually whether or not the hand is worth playing at all. Many casinos will give you the option to surrender your hand based on your first two cards and the dealer’s one face up card. This is called early surrender, and if you choose to take it, you will forfeit half of your initial bet. The next decision is whether or not to split (if you have a pair), and then whether or not to double down (double your bet and only take one hit). Another thing to keep in mind before hitting or standing, is whether or not the dealer has to stand if they have a hard 17 or hit if they have a soft 17 – if in doubt, follow the chart rules for a soft 17.

Hit or Stand Scenarios

Here is a quick look at some examples of when to hit and when to stand:

  • Hit – If the dealer’s card is a 10 (either number or picture), and the total of your hand is 10 or less, or 16.
  • Hit – If your hand is a soft 17 (Ace+6), and the dealer’s card is lower than 5.
  • Hit – If your hand totals 9 or less, and the dealer’s card is a 7, 8, or 9.
  • Hit – If your hand totals 8 or less, and the dealer’s card is sa 4, 5, or 6.
  • Stand – If your hand is a hard 14, 15 or 16, and the dealer’s card is 2, 3, 4 ,5 or 6.
  • Hit – If you have a soft 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, unless you have the option to double down.
  • Stand – If you have a soft 18, 19, unless you have the option to double down.
  • Stand – If you have a soft 20

One scenario that often leads to risk taking is when a player has a hard 17. In this case, the chart will tell you to stand because the dealer has to stand on a hard 17. If both you and the dealer end up with a total of 17, it’s considered a push, and no one wins; a more likely scenario than the dealer getting a better hand than a 17 without having to hit and risk going bust. If you hit on a hard 17, you’re much more likely to go bust than you are to get closer to 21. It may seem tempting to hit on a hard 17, but it’s just not worth the risk. Take the chart’s advice and stand!

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