Blackjack is not a game of chance, but one of strategic play. With a variety of cards that get played, there is a statistical probability attached to each hand and knowing how to use smart strategy could get you dollars, however even blackjack veterans sometimes misplay hands.
Applying basic blackjack strategy can vastly improve your game and optimize your chance of winning. Even card counting is more about how much to bet in general rather than how to play each hands, so any good player learns strategy.
Sometimes, however, there are few blackjack hands that often get misplayed, so here at blackjackchamp.com, we’re going to let you in on the secret of misunderstood hands.
A pair of 9s versus 9
When you get a pair of nines and the dealer also shows a 9, instinct will tell you to stand, since you have a hard 18.
But the truth is probabilistically speaking, you stand a better chance of winning at blackjack if you split instead of stand.
We’ll tell you why. With a hard 18 pitted against a 9, your chances of winning are 8 out of 20. Not a bad set of odds, we’ll grant you, but if you split 9s, then each 9 will have the chance of winning 9.5 hands for every 20.
This means that by splitting your 9s in this case, you’re upping the odds to 1.5 more likely to win the hand, than to not split.
12 against 3
Usually the rule is to stand if the dealer shows a low card, but in this specific case we’re going to explain why this is the exception.
Firsly, you can only bust on a 12 with a ten or any of the face cards, which means you actually stand a good chance of securing a high hand from 17-21 if you hit.
Also, 3 is still not as weak as a card as you might imaging. In fact, the chances of the dealer busting is really not that high when compared to other low cards, so your odds are really not in your favor to stand either way.
In this case, we say hit!
Hard 16 versus 10
Getting a hard 16 is perhaps the worst hand to get in blackjack, especially if the dealer shows a high card.
You can’t really win by standing, and you risk busting by hitting, so what is a blackjack player to do?
• Always split aces and 8s. No matter what the dealer shows, your best bet in blackjack play is to split these cards.
• Never split 10s, 4s or 5s. Forget what the dealer is showing, it’s always better to stand (in the case of the 10) and hit (4 and 5).
• Split 2, 3, 7 when the dealer shows low cards through to 7, if it’s an ace or more than 8, then you’ll want to hit.
• Split 6s when the dealer has cards running from 2-6, otherwise you’ll want to take a hit.
• Always split 9s for cards unless the dealer shows a 10, 7 or ace.
If your table allows you to surrender, then do it. You might say goodbye to 50% of your bet, but you’re more likely to lose all your winnings if you hit or stand, so this is a safer gamble.
Some casinos do not permit players to surrender, so in this case, check your hand.
If you have a hard 16 in a pair, then your best bet is to hit. You have a marginally smaller chance of losing in this case.
But if you happen to have a hand made up of smaller cards, then you’re better off standing, since the small cards have been played, so the chances are the next card that’s going to come out of the deck will be high, meaning you’re going to bust.
Soft 18 against 9 or above
Theoretically you should always stand on an 18, since this is a strong hand, but it’s not the best one. If you always got dealt an 18, you’d lose on the long run.
Hitting on a hard 18 runs the risk of going bust, but a soft 18 is actually safe to hit.
If you stand, your chance of winning is 8 out of 20 hands, but if you hit, you can get a higher hand.
Hitting increases that number to 9 out of 20 hands, so you’ve got nothing to lose, really.
Pair of 8s against 10
Getting a hard 16 might be one of the worst cards you can get dealt, but if you have a pair of 8s then you have a way out.
If the dealer is strong with a 10, the player often hesitates to split their hand, but in this case you can’t really do worse than sticking with a 16.
A hard 16 versus a 10 has a 23% chance of winning, splitting a pair of 8s goes up to 38%, more than 10%!
So if you get a 16 in the form of a pair of 8s and a high card, always split against the dealer’s 10.