Hardcore Blackjack players are ridiculously serious about the game. For some, playing by the rules and losing a hand is better than breaking the rules and winning. That’s because Blackjack is all about odds, and by breaking the hit or stand rules, you could seriously disrupt the balance of the Blackjack table.
The goal of Blackjack
Before understanding when to hit or stand in Blackjack, you need to understand the game. The goal of Blackjack is simple—beat the dealer’s hand without going over 21. Both you and the dealer are dealt two cards each. However, while yours are face-up, only one of the dealer’s cards is visible. The dealer has to hit on 16 or less, and stand on 17 (standing on a soft-17 varies from casino to casino).
When to hit in Blackjack
If your two cards are valued at anything less than 8, you should definitely hit. It doesn’t matter what the dealer is showing because it’s impossible for you to bust. If you’re holding between 12 and 17, things get a little trickier. If you’re new to the game, we recommend following one simple rule to know when to hit or stand in Blackjack. If the dealer is showing a 7, 8, 9, or 10, and your two cards are less than 16, you should hit at the Blackjack tables.
When to stand at the Blackjack tables
When you choose to stand, you’re choosing to not take any cards. The best way to understand when to stand in Blackjack is to imagine that the dealer has worse cards than you, even though you can only see one of them. For example, if you’re showing a 13, and the dealer is showing anywhere from 2 through 6, just imagine that there’s a 10 under there. That means the dealer likely has 12 through 16. If that’s the case, the dealer needs to hit at the Blackjack tables. If he does, he risks hitting a high card that’ll take him over 21. If the dealer is showing a 7 or anything better, you probably don’t want to stand in Blackjack, unless you’re holding 17 or anything better. In a nutshell, if the dealer is showing a low card, you should stand, regardless of what you have. Unless you’ve got a 12 and the dealer is showing a 2 or a 3. Hitting or standing in Blackjack against a 2 or 3 is up for debate, so go with your gut.
Playing Blackjack is about more than knowing when to hit or stand. Sometimes, you have the option to split. That means you can turn your pair into two separate hands. As a general rule, always split Aces and eights. For other pairs, go with your gut, or ask someone at the table what they would do.
If you’ve got a 10 or 11, it’s no longer about hitting or standing. It’s all about the double down (and we’re not talking about KFC’s monster sandwich). That means you get to double your bet, but you only get one card.
Expert hitting or standing in Blackjack
The Blackjack strategy guide we just provided is great for beginners and high rollers. But if you’re looking to take your Blackjack hit or stand rules to the next level, consider coupling them with a card counting strategy. We’ve covered a few of them in our blog, so check ‘em out.