How To Know When You Should Hit or Stand in a Blackjack Game

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

Whether you’re playing with an online blackjack dealer or the old-fashioned way in a real casino, there’s no doubt that blackjack is one of the most popular casino table games around. Not only has it been made famous by movies such as Rain Man, The Hangover, 21 and Casino, but it is also an incredibly easy game to pick up and play. However, if you want to play to win at this casino game, it’s important that you know when to hit and when to stand.

We take a brief look at the history of how the game works before diving into the details of knowing when to hit or stand.

The basics of blackjack

Even if you don’t know how to play casino games, the premise of this game is simple. You, the dealer and anyone else present at the table – whether real or virtual – get dealt two cards. The goal is to get as close as possible to a score of 21, while also getting a hand that’s higher value than the dealer’s. 

Once you’re dealt your first two cards, you need to decide if you are going to “hit” or “stand.” To stand, which is also sometimes known as “stay,” simply means you’re satisfied with the cards that you’ve been dealt and do not want any additional draw cards. To hit means you want to draw one or more additional cards to try and improve your hand.

The decision you make all comes down to knowing the value of each card in your hand and understanding general blackjack rules. Cards with numbers on them provide that specific number value, but face cards (jack, queen and king) are, like 10s, worth 10 points. An ace can be worth 1 or 10 points depending on which is better for your hand (i.e. which number can help you get closer to 21.)

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 what they want to do. Once the signaling is done, your hand is complete for that round. Players are allowed to hit on any hand that totals 20 or less, but it’s not advisable to do so on anything too close to 21 (see our “When to stand” section further down.) The reason is that if your hand exceeds 21 – you’ll have “busted” and will automatically lose your bet. Hitting when you’re close to 21 is a risk that might make you go bust.

What does ‘split’ mean in blackjack?

There are also some other betting options available to you during the game. If you get two cards of equal value, you can choose to “split,” which is simply splitting this pair of cards into two hands. You’ll then be dealt an additional card for each of these hands. Or, you can choose to “double down,” which means doubling your bet, taking an extra card and then having to “‘stand.”

Blackjack variations

Overall, blackjack rules are straightforward. However, there might be slight differences depending on which of the many blackjack variations you choose to play.

It’s important to note that some variations, such as Atlantic City and European blackjack, may have different side bets or progressive jackpots, which can alter the hit-and-stand betting system. If so, you may have an option to “surrender” should you want to give up your hand early. This special option returns 50% of your bet, so it helps you cut your losses if you get a dud hand. It’s important to find out which variations are the top blackjack games so you can find the one that you enjoy most. 

No matter what variation you choose to play, just like online slots, there is a strong element of chance to blackjack. However, knowing when to hit or stay can improve your odds of a win.

When to hit or stay in blackjack

 Player holding blackjack playing cards, chips on table

Knowing when to hit or stand in the game is not only an important part of actually being able to play blackjack, but it can also reduce the house edge by half. This makes blackjack one of the best casino games to play if you’re looking for good betting odds. This is also true for knowing when to split or double down in the game (which we’ll discuss later on.)

Blackjack: When to hit

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

Blackjack: When to stand

If your hand totals 17, 18, 19 or 20, then you should stand, no matter what – you have a pretty good chance of going bust as your next card is likely to take your hand over 21. Some hands, such as 10-10 or 9-9, can be split into two new good hands.

It’s also important to know the difference between “soft” and “hard” hands. Hands containing an ace, which counts as 1 or 11, are called soft hands because they are malleable and can change depending on what you need. Hands that are made up of the other cards and don’t contain an ace 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 through 6 if you have an ace, 2, 3, 4 or 5.

You can also 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.

Blackjack hit or stand chart

Croupier behind gambling table in a casino

The blackjack strategy chart is there to help guide you in every situation when playing the game and can be easily found with an online search. Also sometimes referred to as a “blackjack hit table,” it has a simple format, showing the dealer and player’s possible hands and what action you should consider for each combination. 

You’ll only see one of the dealer’s cards during play – the other is revealed at the end when everything shakes out and winning bets are paid up. You can, however, use the blackjack hit table to scan for the dealer’s card and look through the corresponding columns to help you decide your move. The strategy chart is based on probability theory, which does not guarantee a win, but at least points you in the right direction to help you improve your odds.

You can also make use of other strategies to win, as well as calculators to help you check probabilities. However, remember that certain strategies like card counting are frowned upon and can even get you banned from a land-based casino. Moreover, this technique does not work online as cards are shuffled on every round using an automated shoe that’s governed by random number generator (RNG) software.


We’ve covered all of the basics above, but to focus on more specific queries, here are some frequently asked questions and answers about this pacy card game. 

When not to hit in blackjack

When should you not hit in blackjack? Well, this depends on many factors, but there are certain tactics you can use that can help to increase your odds of winning (although there are no guarantees.)

Generally, one of the first guidelines is that you should not hit if your hand totals 17 or above. This is because you’ll risk going over 21, meaning you will bust and your winnings will be forfeited.

Should I hit or stand on 16?

If your card hand totals 16, you should stand if the dealer shows a 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6.

Do you hit on 12?

If you have a card hand that totals 12, you should stand if the dealer has a 4, 5 or 6.

Should I hit on 13?

If you have a card hand that totals 13, you should stand if the dealer shows a 2 through 6.

Do you hit 13 against a 2?

No, you should 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 your card hands total 11 and the dealer is showing a card lower than 10.

Key takeaways for when to hit or stand in blackjack

Knowing when to hit or stand is key if you want to play blackjack successfully. A strategy chart makes it even easier to decide for every hand in this fast-paced table game. Although a strategy chart doesn’t guarantee a win, it does help improve your chances of winning. Sometimes the choice to hit or stand is pretty obvious, whereas other times, you’ll need to plan it. Sometimes, you’ll just need to follow your instincts.

Put our blackjack strategy tips into practice at Borgata Online

So now that you understand more about when to hit or stand in blackjack, it’s time to join Borgata Online and play. At our online casino, you can try out some simple blackjack strategies and play for real money! You can also play some of the exciting online casino table games or live dealer casino games available at our online casino. We have many other types of online casino games for you to explore, including an exciting variety of new casino games.

Join in all the gambling thrills when you register at Borgata Online.