Standing and hitting are two of the most crucial moves you can make in the casino card game of blackjack. You must learn certain strategies, tactics, and rules associated with these blackjack actions to reduce the house edge, beat the dealer, and potentially boost your winning odds.
The action of hitting involves requesting an additional card from the dealer, hoping you will create a stronger hand with it. That said, it pays to know when the optimal time to hit is, but more importantly, what you should not hit when playing blackjack.
When the Blackjack Player Should Not Hit According to Basic Strategy
Once you have received your two-hole cards, you must decide whether you will hit (draw another card) or stay. Sometimes, it makes sense to stand and not hit, meaning you are content with the cards that have been dealt to your hand. In a lot of these cases, you don’t want to draw a card because it will cause your hand to go over 21 (aka bust).
At other times, you don’t want to ask for a card because you think the next card will cause the dealer’s hand to go bust. Either way, it is important to know when not to hit. Thanks to the basic blackjack strategy, it’s easy to know when to stand based on the value of your hand, game rules, and the value of the dealer’s up-card.
Here are instances where the player must not hit:
- When you have a hard hand worth 17, 18, 19, or 20 – If the player’s hand totals 17 through 20, they should not hit regardless of the dealer’s up-card. This is because these hands have a high likelihood of busting on the next additional card.
- When your hand totals 13 or higher, and the dealer is showing a 2 through 6
- When you hold a soft 20 hand (Ace + 9) – This is considered a decent hand that can beat most dealer’s up-cards. Besides, the only card that can improve your hand without bursting is an Ace. The chances of getting an Ace mid-shoe are pretty slim.
- When your hand totals 12 and the dealer’s up-card is a 4, 5, or 6
- When you hold a soft 18 (Ace-7) and the dealer’s up-card is a 2, 7, or 8
- When your hand is an Ace-8 (soft 19) – You should not hit a soft 19 unless you are allowed to double down against the dealer’s up-card of 6. This exception applies to blackjack variants in which the table rules instruct the dealer to hit on soft 17.
Another instance in which you should not hit with a hand totaling 17 or greater is when the dealer’s up-card is an Ace or 7 through K. Likewise, when you hold a hard 16, you should not hit if the dealer’s up-card is a small card, such as 2-6.
Understanding the difference between a hard and a soft hand is crucial.
Soft hands are the ones with an Ace, which can be counted as either an 11 or a 1. That is because these hands are flexible, and the value can be altered based on your gameplay. Hands that consist of cards other than an Ace are known as hard hands.
What numbers do you not hit on in blackjack?
The numbers you should not hit on in blackjack include:
- Any player’s hand worth 17 or higher (that is, 17, 18, 19, and 20) – It doesn’t matter what the dealer’s up-card is; you should not hit these numbers. That is because your hand has a higher probability of going over 21. They are high numbers, too, so they have a higher chance of beating or tying with the dealer.
- 12 if the dealer is showing a 4, 5, or 6
- 13 against the dealer’s low cards, 2 through 6
- 14 against the dealer’s low cards, 2 through 6
- 15 against the dealer’s low cards, 2 through 6
- 16 when the dealer’s up-card is low (2 through 6)
- Ace-8, Ace-9, and Ace-10 against any dealer’s up-card
- Ace-7 against the dealer’s 2, 7, or 8
- Ace-6 if the dealer’s up-card is a 2
- A pair of 10s – If you hold any pair of 10s, you should not hit no matter what
- A pair of 9s against the dealer’s Ace, 7, or 10
When should you not hit in blackjack?
You should not hit when you’re holding any hand worth 17 points or higher. That’s any 17, 18, 19, or 20 – you should consider standing on these hands despite the dealer’s up-card. It doesn’t matter if the dealer must stay or hit on soft 17; you must not hit.
Hitting a hand totaling 17 or over is a bad idea because you have a significant probability of bursting if you take another card. The next card is likely to make your hand exceed 21 points.
You may split some hands with a pair of 9s or 10s to create two hands you can play individually. However, the basic blackjack strategy states that you should never split a pair of 10s. Meanwhile, it would help if you always stayed with a pair of nines against the dealer’s 7.
You should also consider whether the hand is soft or hard. Soft hands are malleable, and you can change the value of the Ace based on your needs. The type of hand can also determine when and what you should not hit on in blackjack.
For example, you should not hit on a hard 16 (example: 9 + 7) if the dealer is showing a 6 or lower card. At the same time, you should not hit on a hand with an Ace or 2-5 if the dealer’s up-card is a 3 through 6. You should double down on that hand instead. You’re likely to make weaker hands or go bust with hard hands, so stay with them instead of hitting.
Do you always double down on 11?
Absolutely! You should always double down on 11 or 10. Doubling down means to double your stake after noticing that your hole cards create a strong hand. You must draw an additional card after a double down.
Double down on a two-card hand worth 11 points because you have a good chance of landing a ten-card. Statistically, your likelihood of drawing a ten-card (a 10, Jack, Queen, or a King) is a solid 30.7 percent. A ten-card and an 11 will create a 21 hand, which can only be beaten by a dealer’s blackjack.
The probability of that happening is slim, so you are almost sure of winning when you double down on 11.
The same goes for when you are holding a hand totaling 10. With a 30.7% chance of getting a ten-card on the next deal, it makes sense to double down on a ten hand.
When should you never hit blackjack?
You should never hit when holding a hand worth 17 or more points. This high-value hand is likely to go beyond 21 points upon drawing another card. The basic rule is never to hit when you have 17, 18, 19, or 20, regardless of the game rules, what the dealer has, or the number of decks in use.
When should you hit or stand on 16?
A hand totaling 16 points is difficult to play, especially for beginner players. When you should hit on 16 will vary, depending on the following:
- The game rules – These include blackjack rules that dictate whether the dealer stands or hits on soft 17
- The type of hand – Whether you are holding a soft 16 or a hard 16. The most difficult position to be in is when you have a hard 16.
- The dealer’s up-card – You should change your strategy based on the value of the dealer’s first card.
According to basic strategy, you should hit on soft 16 against the dealer’s upcard of an Ace, 2, 3, and 7 through 10. If you hold a hard 16, you should hit only on the dealer’s card of a 7 or a 8. However, you should surrender if the dealer is showing a nine or a ten. The likelihood of a hard 16 going burst is pretty high, but it has a lower chance than the dealer having a 17 or higher.
When should you stop playing blackjack?
You should stop playing blackjack when…
- You are drunk or under the influence of drugs
- You have reached your loss limit
- You have exhausted your bankroll
- You have hit your win limit
- You are showing signs of compulsive or problem gambling
- You should be doing something more helpful, such as spending quality time with family, doing your work, or studying
- You have started chasing losses – Even if you like playing some of the most popular casino games, you should never chase losses.
Do I hit a 12 against a 3 as per blackjack strategy chart?
Yes, you should always hit a 12 against a dealer’s face up card of 3. This basic strategy works whether the dealer must stay on soft 17 or hit on soft 17. It applies to blackjack casino games in which the dealer pays 3 to 2 for a natural win of 21.
Do you hit or stay on 16?
You should hit on soft 16 against an ace, 2, 3, or 7 through 10. If you are holding a hard 16, you should only hit against a 7 or 8 dealer’s up-card.
You can only stay with a hard 16 when the dealer shows a 2 through 6.