How to Know When to Hit or Stand in a Blackjack Game

Portrait of a croupier holding playing cards, gambling chips on table

Blackjack is one of the most popular casino games. Knowing when to hit or stand in the game can reduce the house edge by half, which makes it one of the best casino odds games. This is also true for knowing when to split or double down in the game.

What does Hit & Stand mean in Blackjack?

The goal in blackjack is to get a hand as close to 21 as possible without going over. Hence it is also referred to as blackjack 21 or just 21.

The most frequent decision that players need to make when playing online blackjack is whether to hit or stand. To ‘stand’ simply means that you are satisfied with the cards that you have been dealt, and do not want any additional draw cards. Whereas, hitting means that you want to draw another card, or more, in order to try and improve your hand.

At an online casino, players can action this by clicking either the ‘hit’ or ‘stand’ button on their screens. Meanwhile, players at a brick-and-mortar casino can use different hand signals to let the dealer know if they want to hit or stand. Once the signaling is done, that means your hand is complete for that round.  Players can hit on any hand that totals 21 or less. In an event that your hand exceeds 21, then you have “busted” and that way you automatically lose your bet.

Other options include the ‘split’ which is simply splitting two cards of the same value into two hands, and ‘double down’ which is doubling down the amount of your bet, an extra card plus stand.

When to Hit

 Player holding blackjack playing cards, chips on table

If your hand has a total of 8, it only makes sense that you hit on any card that the dealer holds. This is because the chances of you making a good hand are high, with so many 9 and 10-value cards in the deck. It is also wise to hit if the dealer has a relatively higher-value card on their hand such as a 7, 8 or 9 because they are likely to make 21, and the main aim of the game is to beat the dealer’s hand.

While it’s not advised, some players choose to hit when they have a hand total of 12 or 13 and the dealer has a lower card. That hand is very unlikely to win but it just might, depending on what card you will draw next.

Quick Tips:

·         Hit if you have an 11 and the dealer has an Ace.

·         Hit if you have a 10 and the dealer’s face-up card is also 10 or an Ace.

·         Hit if you have a 9 and the dealer shows a 2 or 7 through Ace.

·         Always hit on 5, 6, 7 and 8.

When to Stand

If your hand totals 17, 19 or 20 then you should stand, no matter what. This is because you are at a pretty good chance to ‘bust’ if your next card will make your hand go over 21. Some totals such as 10-10 or 9-9 can be split into two new good hands.

What’s also important is that you know the difference between ‘soft’ and ’hard’ hands in blackjack. Hands that contain an Ace, which counts as 1 or 11, are called soft hands, while hands made up of the other cards are called hard hands. Your decision to stand will also be based on which group your hand total falls into.

For instance, you should stand if the dealer’s face-up card is a 6 or below and you have a hard 16 (say consisting of a 7 and 9). Hit if the dealer shows a 2, or double down on cards 3 to 6 if you have an Ace, 2, 3, 4 or 5.

You can make a strong hand with soft cards if you draw a high-value card.

Quick Tips:

·         Always stand if you have 17-21.

·         Stand if you have 13-16 and the dealer shows a 2 through 6.

·         Stand if you have a 12 and the dealer has a 4, 5 or 6.

The Blackjack Strategy Chart

Croupier behind gambling table in a casino

The blackjack strategy chart is there to help you know what to do in every situation when playing the game. The table works in a simple format showing both the dealer and player’s possible hands. You can use the table to scan for the dealer’s card and through the corresponding column to your combination to see what to do. The strategy chart is based on a probability theory, which does not guarantee you a win, but at least points you towards a better direction to improve your odds.

You can also make use of other blackjack strategies to win, and calculators to help you check probabilities. However, remember that certain strategies to play blackjack such as card counting are frowned upon and can have you banned at a casino. This technique also does not work online as cards are shuffled on every round using an automated shoe.

Basic Blackjack Rules

Blackjack rules are very simple to follow. However, there might be slight differences depending on the variation you choose to play.

It is also important to note that some blackjack variations such as Atlantic City and European blackjack may have different side bets or progressive jackpots which can alter with the hit and stand betting system. If so, you will have an option to ‘surrender’, should you want to give up your hand early. This special option returns 50 percent of your bet.  

FAQs about Blackjack Charts

Below are some frequently asked questions and answers about blackjack.

When should you not hit in blackjack?

You should not hit in blackjack if your hand totals 17 or above because you will be at a risk to exceed 21, meaning you will ‘bust’ and your winnings will be forfeited.

Should I hit or stand on 16?

Stand if the dealer shows a 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6.

Do you hit on 12?

No, stand if the dealer has a 4, 5 or 6.

Should I hit on 13?

No, stand if the dealer shows a 2 through 6.

Do you hit 13 against a 2?

No, stand if the dealer’s face-up card is a 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6.

Do you always double down on 11?

A good strategy is to double down if the dealer is showing a lower card than a 10.

Conclusion

Knowing when to hit or stand is key if you want to play blackjack successfully. The strategy chart makes it even easier to decide for every hand in this fast-paced table game, and although it doesn’t guarantee you a win, it does help improve your chances of winning. Sometimes, the choice is pretty obvious and you just need to follow your instinct.  So, why not learn how to hit or stand in blackjack at our live casino online? You can try this simple strategy on our demo games or play for real money to win big today!