Worst Stiff Hand in Blackjack

It is never fun to be dealt a stiff hand in blackjack. You always feel like you have lost the round before it is even your turn to play. Or in the case of online blackjack, as soon as you see the cards you have been dealt.

You wind up basing your play off of whatever up card the dealer has. For hard hands 13 through 16 you stand if the dealer is showing a 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6. And if he is showing a 7, 8, 9, 10 or Ace you hit. A hard 12 is the same except that you do hit when the dealer is showing a 2 or 3, so it is a little more flexible.

So if four of the five stiff hands are all played the same, which one is the worst one?

It would be the hard 16. Players have a 61% chance of busting with this hand. This is because when the dealer has a 7 or higher showing, the player’s best play is to hit. And there are only four cards that the player can receive that will not bust him: 2, 3, 4 and 5. That’s 4 out of 6 card types.

It naturally follows that the smaller the stiff hand the less of a chance there is of the player busting:

Hard 15: 59%
Hard 14: 56%
Hard 13: 52%
Hard 12: 48%

Notice that the hard 12’s chances of busting are less than 50%. This is because more than half of the card types that the blackjack player could receive will not cause him to bust.

The best you can do in blackjack is to play according to basic strategy and hope for the best. There really is not anything else that you can do. This is because you are too close to hit and not bust, but you are not high enough to really stand. Which is why every blackjack player hates being dealt stiff hands. At least in knowing the chances of busting, it can help a player feel a little better about hitting.

A Little Something Extra for Your Basic Strategy

Basic strategy is already an awesome skill to have in your blackjack arsenal. But you can add to it, tweek at bit you might say.

Let’s look at this situation: you have just been dealt a 16 against a dealer’s 10.

Basic strategy dictates that you hit here. And for the most part that’s going to be the best thing for you to do for your overall blackjack game. But let’s look at the makeup of that 16 and think about tweeking how you play out this hand.

Your 16 could be made up of two cards, 10-6 or 9-7, or it could be made up with three cards, like a 4-5-7. And there’s a difference on how you play your hands depending on how your hand is constructed.

If your 16 is made up of three cards you are actually better off standing rather than hitting. The reason for this is because when you have three cards making up your 16, it means that you’re already holding smaller number cards. You would need more in order to stay below 21. And because you already have small cards in your hand, and you figure that other players have small cards as well, means that you don’t have very good odds of getting more.

Another hand you can apply this strategy to is a starting total of 12 versus a dealer who has a 4 up. Normally you would stand here, according to basic strategy. But what you need to consider is what your 12 is made up of. Most combinations of 12 (9-3, 8-4, 7-5) are fine for standing; they’re made up of low or neutral value cards, which increases your chances of busting if you hit.

But if your 12 is made up of 10-2 then you’re better off hitting. The only cards that can bust you are ten value cards. Everything else will just raise your total, possibly putting you near 21.

What you need to take from this posting is that while basic strategy is still the best way to play, to advance your blackjack strategy and finer tune your odds, consider the makeup of a stiff hand and how it reflects on the remaining deck.

If card counting is already a part of your blackjack strategy, you will already know whether the deck is rich in highs or lows. Take that into consideration when you are dealt a stiff hand. Look at the cards you have versus the cards that have already been played. At that point you can decide whether you should hit or stand.