The odds are against the player who gets a hard 16 blackjack hand, at about 75% of them won by the dealer. Surrendering late is how you can save 50% of your wager. If not allowed, and the dealer’s up card is anywhere between 2 and 6, you could instead stand on hard 16
Blackjack Hands And How To Play Them
6 min read
Blackjack is a game of choice, as it is of luck. Performing the right move at each round can help you gain a leg up the casino by turning the odds in your favor. Using card counting is the best way to achieve this.
Before jumping on the blackjack table or learning about the game’s payouts, odds, and advanced strategies, you should understand how it works.
At the most basic level, you must learn the value of each blackjack hand, their rankings, and the moves you should take based on your cards.
Blackjack Hands Rules
So, what do we mean by blackjack hands? What is the value of each combination?
These questions are central to the game’s main premise: getting 21 (blackjack) or being closer to it than the dealer. The suit of the cards doesn’t matter, but only the total of your cards.
2 – 10 cards are calculated at face value, while Jacks, Queens, and Kings count as 10. Aces act as a trump card, counting as 1 or 11. The decision is up to you, with Aces providing more freedom regarding how many cards you can draw and the chances you can take.
Based on these values, you should avoid going over 21, or you automatically lose the blackjack round.
You must understand blackjack rules and odds to stand a chance at long-term profits. There is no other online casino game with a 0.5% house edge, which gives blackjack players an edge. However, when hitting or standing at random times, you miss out on this. You could as well bet on a roulette wheel if you don’t take the time to learn the various blackjack strategies.
And don’t get us wrong. Things are not so simple in blackjack, since players must make fast decisions based on the cards laid out in front of them. Calculating the odds of your blackjack hands is impossible without the right resources, which is why you should check the following sections.
Busting Odds when you Hit
While the casino will not even give you the chance to hit when you reach 21, things can be more complicated. Depending on your blackjack hand total, we have calculated the odds to go bust if you draw an additional card.
- 100% odds to go bust when drawing on 21 blackjack hand
- 92% odds to go bust when drawing on 20 blackjack hand
- 85% odds to go bust when drawing on 19 blackjack hand
- 77% odds to go bust when drawing on 18 blackjack hand
- 69% odds to go bust when drawing on 17 blackjack hand
- 62% odds to go bust when drawing on 16 blackjack hand
- 58% odds to go bust when drawing on 15 blackjack hand
- 56% odds to go bust when drawing on 14 blackjack hand
- 39% odds to go bust when drawing on 13 blackjack hand
- 31% odds to go bust when drawing on 12 blackjack hand
- 0% odds to go bust when drawing on 11 or lower blackjack hand
While you don’t need the blackjack hand odds for some scenarios, knowing your statistical chances for some ambiguous cases is useful, like when having 13 – 16 card combinations. Card counting can help you make a final choice, but the above list should work fine on a fundamental level.
Dealer’s Hands Odds
Knowing when to hit in blackjack is not independent of other variables. Your final decision will depend on the dealer’s upcard; this is revealed in the initial deal and can help you stand or hit with the odds in your favor.
Below, we outline the odds of the dealer forming a final hand consisting of 16 or higher values.
- 4.82% odds for the dealer’s final hand to be a natural 21
- 7.36% odds for the dealer’s final hand to be a 3-Card 21
- 17.58% odds for the dealer’s final hand to be 20
- 13.48% odds for the dealer’s final hand to be 19
- 13.81% odds for the dealer’s final hand to be 18
- 14.58% odds for the dealer’s final hand to be 17
- 28.36% odds for the dealer’s final hand to be 16
The above doesn’t take into account the dealer’s open card, but it provides you with an overall assessment of the dealer’s odds of getting any winning hand value.
Hand Advantage Based on Dealer’s Up Card
The blackjack hands odds covered so far are indicative of the overall winning odds. However, they cannot be applied directly to any blackjack game. There, you will have additional information that you can use to your advantage.
For this, we highlight your edge when playing your cards correctly and the dealer’s likelihood of busting based on their face-up card.
|Dealer’s Card||Probabilities for Busting||Player’s Edge|
|10, J, Q, K||21.43%||-16.9%|
Elements that Can Affect Your Edge
Many aspects can further affect the odds of winning with your blackjack hands. We will take these in turn, starting with the impact of removing cards from the deck. Knowing these can help you make the right decisions on the blackjack table. Keep in mind that not all cards affect the odds in the same way, although they come close.
- Your odds of winning increase by 0.4% when 2 is removed from the deck
- Your odds of winning increase by 0.43% when 3 is removed from the deck
- Your odds of winning increase by 0.52% when 4 is removed from the deck
- Your odds of winning increase by 0.67% when 5 is removed from the deck
- Your odds of winning increase by 0.45% when 6 is removed from the deck
- Your odds of winning increase by 0.3% when 7 is removed from the deck
- Your odds of winning increase by 0.01% when 8 is removed from the deck
- Your odds of winning decrease by 0.15% when 9 is removed from the deck
- Your odds of winning decrease by 0.51% when 10, J, Q, or K is removed from the deck
- Your odds of winning decrease by 0.59% when Ace is removed from the deck
As you can see above, removal of Aces lowers your odds significantly, while removal of 5s increases them by 0.67%.
Other aspects that can help you play blackjack hands with increased odds include:
- Playing blackjack games with 3:2 natural payouts
- Choosing variants with 6-decks or less
- Playing multi-hand blackjack or live variants to get insights into the remaining cards on the deck
- Using blackjack bonuses
- Opting for blackjack games that allow late surrender
- Playing variants that allow peeking
The Worst Blackjack Hands for the Player
Having an Ace in your blackjack hand makes it a soft hand, while not having one makes it a hard hand. This can help you understand some of the most challenging blackjack scenarios discussed below:
Hard 16 Total
Since two 8s are identical to a hard 16 blackjack hand, you are met with the same terrible odds. An excellent way to overcome this is by splitting those, with good chances of reaching 18 on one of them. An Ace or 3 sets you up for an even better total blackjack hand. Keep in mind, though, that some online blackjack games only allow splitting of 10s and Aces.
Hard 14 Total
This blackjack hand is in the middle of a hand you should hit and stand. As such, making a decision is a hard call. However, if your dealer has a low face-up card, it is better to stand at a hard 4. On the other, if the dealer has anywhere over 7, you would be better off hitting
Blackjack Hands FAQs
What hands are strong in blackjack?
An Ace and a 10 make up the natural blackjack hand. The 10 can be any suit of 10, J, Q, or K. The only negative outcome here is a tie, which means the dealer also got a natural. Any other blackjack hand total that equals 21, i.e., 8, 3, and 10, is called blackjack.
What is the strongest blackjack hand?
An Ace and a 10 is the best hand since it automatically forms blackjack. This is why it is also called a natural. 20, 19, 18, and 17 are all considered great blackjack hands, with good winning odds for standing.
What does hitting on soft 17 mean?
A soft 17 is a total of 17 consisting of an Ace. Ace can be counted as 11 or 1, providing flexibility on whether you should hit or not. Depending on the casino, the dealers are required to hit or stand on a soft 17.