Stiff hands are miserable to get in blackjack. There is a feeling of losing before the round before the game really gets going. And in blackjack—be in online blackjack or blackjack in a brick and mortar casino—you are going to be dealt a stiff hand around 43% of the time.
But of all those stiff hands one is not as bad as the other hands. That stiff hand is a hard 12.
Thankfully a hard 12 offers us a little bit more room to work with than the other stiff hands we could be dealt in blackjack.
For starters let’s look at the plays recommended by basic strategy. For a hard 13 through hard 16 the basic strategy recommended plays are the same: if the dealer’s up card is a 2-6, stand and if the dealer’s up card is 7 through an Ace, hit.
But a hard 12 is different. Basic strategy recommends standing only on a dealer’s 4-6. If the dealer has a 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, 10 or Ace the recommended play is to hit. That alone gives the player some more room to work with this stiff hand in a game of blackjack.
On a side note, you can win 37% of the time when you hit a hard 12 against the dealer’s 2 or 3. Standing will only allow you to win 35% of the time. I do not know about you, but when it comes to a stiff hand, I will take that extra 2% any day.
So why is it recommended to hit a hard 12 against a 2 or 3? Mostly it has to do with the dealer’s chances of busting.
The dealer has the highest chances of busting when he has a 4, 5 or 6 showing. This is why you stand against those three so that you can leave the path to him busting open. All the other up cards have less than a 40% chance of busting. And since a hard 12 still offers a chance of not busting because of it being a lower hand total than the other stiff hands it allows us the chance of hitting against a dealer’s 2 or 3.
That being said do not think the round of blackjack is entirely lost when you are dealt a hard 12. Thankfully, the odds in blackjack give you a little room to work with.