Unless this is your first time reading about blackjack, there is a good chance that you have heard the game is a quick and easy one to learn, but a tricky one to master. That is quite true, on both accounts.
One of the things that make the game so tricky is because it is not based entirely on luck. To be a truly successful player, you have to know the best way to play any hand you are dealt.
That comes down to strategy. There are strategies for all of the game’s moves, but the best place to start, especially if you are new to blackjack, is with basic hit and stand strategies.
Those are the first two basic moves most players learn first. This means even beginners can start using strategies to improve their winning chances.
We explain how to know when you should hit or stand, based not only on hands you could be dealt, but the dealer’s hands as well.
A Quick Look at Blackjack
The game loved by millions of players around the world has been around for a long time. Blackjack has been played in more or less the same way for centuries.
The goal of the game all those years ago was the same goal you have when you play it today. You need to beat the dealer to a hand of cards worth 21 points, or as close to 21 as possible.
If your hand is worth less than 21, the first thing you need to consider is whether you want to try improve the total of your hand by hitting and taking another card, or standing, and playing your hand you were dealt. The dealer may also take another card.
Your hand will be compared with the dealer’s hand when you have made your move, and the winner of the game will be announced.
It’s a Numbers Game
When you play online blackjack, you have the choice of playing games that use different numbers of card decks. You could choose a game that uses only 1 standard deck of 52 playing cards, or a game that uses 2, 4, or as many as 8 decks.
A good strategy takes into consideration not only the cards in your hand, but the face-up card in the dealer’s hand as well. The basic hit and stand strategies we explain do just that.
Aces and 8s or 9s
If you are dealt an Ace and an 8 or a 9, you should seriously consider standing, regardless of the dealer’s face-up card. Aces are worth either 1 or 11 points, so the hands would be worth either 9 or 19, or 10 or 20 points, respectively.
Hitting would come with just too great a risk of going bust.
Hit or Stand on 17?
In some games, the dealer is forced to stand on 17; in others, the dealer must hit. If you get 17, however, you have the choice or hit or stand.
The choice can be even trickier if the dealer’s face-up card is worth 10 points. Whatever the dealer has, you should stand on 17, because the dealer’s hand really could go either way once the face-down card is flipped over.
A Hand of 2 10s
Some players cling persistently to the rather unhelpful strategy of always splitting 2 10s. It doesn’t matter whether those cards area mix or a match of Kings, Queens, Jacks, or 10s, those players will always split them.
Hitting is obviously out of the question, as you would probably go bust. In that case, you may be tempted to split.
Standing is a far better option, as a hand worth 20 points is one of the best hands there is, regardless of the dealer’s face-up card. It comes with great odds, and the dealer needs a blackjack to beat you.
13 – 16 Points
If your hand is worth 13, 14, 15, or 16 points, your decision to hit or stand should be based on the dealer’s face-up card. If the card is a 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6, you should hit, because even if the dealer’s face-down card is an Ace, it is not going to do very much to beat your improved hand.
However, if the dealer’s face-up card is anything else, you should stand.
What to Do with 12 Points
A hand worth 12 points can make hitting an exciting prospect, but you should only hit on 12 if the dealer’s face-up card is a 4, 5, or 6. You could also hit if the dealer has a 7, 8, 9, or 10.
If the dealer has anything else, standing would be your best option, as the odds would be in the dealer’s favour.