Why You Should Stand in Blackjack

The thing with blackjack is that it gives you a certain feeling of power. Here’s a casino game that you have some control over. YOU get to choose what play to make. YOU choose to hit. YOU choose to stand.

It’s a rather empowering feeling.

And when we find ourselves all empowered that we want to be the dominate player. We want to show that dealer that we fear no up card! Even that Ace—we’ll pass on insurance, thank you.

But the problem with being on an empowered high is that mistakes can come from it.

I guess that’s where strategy comes in. Strategy is there to rein us in, to guide us, when we become excited about blackjack and have the urge to hit every hand we have that doesn’t total to at least 17.

But let’s go back to having the ability to choose our play in blackjack. While it can make us feel empowered, it should also make you feel crafty. It’s not that you have a choice to do or not do, you can stand, hit or double. You have more than one choice, and that’s where the craftiness should come in—what play do you make to take the house’s money?

Standing is probably the least favorite play to make. It’s so passive. It feels like we aren’t doing anything. And if we don’t feel like we’re doing anything we feel like we’re making a bad play. …Unless we’re standing on a strong hand.

But standing is necessary. It’s a part of that crafty feeling in blackjack. It’s actually a pretty smart play. We are sending a message to the dealer. We are telling that blackjack dealer that we know we have a pretty good chance of busting; we also know that he does too.

But unlike him, we don’t have to hit until we bust. We can stay right where we are with our hard 16. We then sit back and watch that dealer hitting until he busts. Well, we hope he busts.

But standing is what we do when the only option we have is to hit and to hit would mean a good chance of busting. Think of standing as your safety. It is your crafty little move in your blackjack strategy arsenal that can make you feel like you’ve saved your hand and didn’t have to go on to bust.

If you can turn your thinking of standing as a weak, passive blackjack move, you will feel better when you have to stand.

Hard 16 Meet the Dealer’s 7

This seems to be a rather tricky play for blackjack players to make.

When faced with a hard 16 against a dealer’s 7 you should be hitting it, not standing.

Okay, it’s not that it’s a tricky play, it’s that it’s a tough one to make, both in online blackjack and land-based blackjack. Tough as in your brain is telling you, ‘No, no, no! You’re going to bust! Don’t hit that 16! No!’

But let’s look at it this way for a moment, and you better tell your brain to pay attention to this. Let’s say that you have been dealt a hard 16. The dealer has a 7 showing. What play do you make? Hit or stand?

You should hit and here’s why. Using that defensive blackjack strategy in which you assume that the hole card is worth 10. Based on that assumption, then with that 7 and assumed 10 hole card the dealer would have 17. And if you had chosen to stand on your hard 16 you would have lost.

So why set yourself up to lose when you have the chance to better your hand by hitting.

Want further proof? Look at a blackjack basic strategy chart—look at the line for hard 16. Notice that you’re told to stand on 2-6 and hit 7-10 and the Ace. This is because with all hands 7 and up would beat a hard 16 that you stood on if you assumed that those up card were matched with a 10. Any hole card of 2-6 there is the chance that the dealer will hit to bust.

So in blackjack, again both online blackjack and land-based blackjack, you want to hit a hard 16 when faced with a dealer’s 7. It gives you the chance to build your hand into something stronger. And you know that the dealer is going to hit his hand whatever his hole card turns out to be.

Standing on a hard 16 against a dealer’s 7 is like giving up before you give yourself the chance. So give yourself and your hand a shot at winning. You may, you may not. But if you stand on that hard 16 you’re setting yourself up for a loss.

How to Correctly Play 16 Against a 7

Plays made against a dealer’s up card of 7 are usually misplayed. Novice players seem to not know what to do when faced with that 7.

This seems to happen most often when you have a sixteen and he has a 7 showing. Many players will stand here rather than hit. And hitting is what you should be doing. Even a basic strategy chart will tell you to hit a hard 16 against a dealer’s 7.

Now let me briefly ask you, what would you do if the dealer was showing a 10 or a face card and you had a hard 16? You’d hit and you’d have no problem doing so.

But in all actuality the dealer is more likely to bust with a 7 than with a 10. He will bust 23 times out of 100 with a 10, but will bust 26 times out of 100 when he has a 7 showing. And you? You have the same chances of busting in with this hand regardless of whether he has a 10 or a 7. And even though he has a greater chance of busting with a 7, so many novice blackjack players will stand against that 7.

And this is where it doesn’t make sense. If you have the same chances of busting, and he has a greater chance of busting on that 7 rather than with a 10, why would you stand against the 7 and not the 10?

Yes, you should be hitting against them both, and bravo if you are. But the standing against a 7 has got to stop. And this applies to both land based blackjack and online blackjack. If you’re standing against the 7 you’re not playing this hand to its best opportunity. Just remember, hit a hard 16 against a dealer 7. And make the most of this stiff hand because when do we really have a lot of opportunity with a stiff hand?

And if you answer with a hard 12 you will have made me proud.

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%.