Sweet Sixteen

I find a lot of people are not quite sure what to do when they are dealt a sixteen in blackjack, be it a hard sixteen or a soft sixteen. I can kind of understand this. We all know to stand on hard seventeen and to hit on a soft seventeen. But sixteen…

A soft sixteen is easy to deal with. You hit with that one. Unless you can double down. If doubling down is allowed then double down when the dealer’s up card is a 4, 5 or 6. You can always reduce the total of your hand if you draw what would normally be a bust card.

Let’s say that you have a soft sixteen, and you draw a 6 or higher. Normally you would bust, but with a soft sixteen you can change the value of the Ace from eleven to one. So say you draw an 8. That would normally give you a hand of 24. But you can bring that Ace down to 1 to make your hand worth 14. Depending on what the dealer’s up card is, you can either stand or hit. Hitting on a soft hand is almost like having a second chance. And that applies to both land based casino blackjack and online blackjack.

But a hard sixteen, that one is harder to deal with it seems. And I agree that it can be tough especially if you’ve been on a winning streak with blackjack. You get dealt that hard sixteen and in your head you go ‘Oh, no.’ Because you want to keep on winning. And it’s so close to seventeen and standing that you just want to stand. But you know you shouldn’t because basic strategy says hit. But if you hit you feel that there’s a good chance that you will bust. What should you do?

As hard as it is, and as much as you want to stand, you need to follow basic strategy. In blackjack basic strategy gives you the best possible statistical chance in the game. Remember that it doesn’t guarantee a win for every hand, but it does lower the house edge over time. So this might be one of the hands you lose, but it doesn’t mean that you will walk away a loser overall. Just stick with basic strategy.

And it’s not all dark in the tunnel that is a hard sixteen. You don’t stand on every single hard sixteen. You only stand on a hard sixteen if the dealer’s up card is a 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6. If the dealer’s up card is a 7, 8, 9, 10, Jack, Queen, King or Ace by all means, hit!

So while a hard sixteen can be a bit hard to swallow, always follow your basic strategy chart. Always keep it in the back of your mind that it holds the best statistical plays for you, and that following it can lower the house edge in blackjack to 0.5%.