What Makes Stiff Hands so Stiff

We hate them. We hate being dealt them. We know that when we do see these cards in blackjack that we have a pretty decent shot of either busting or being beat. They’re hands that you could say the following of: “You’re damned if you do, you’re damned if you don’t.”

I’m talking about stiff hands in blackjack. It doesn’t matter if we are playing blackjack online or in a casino. Those would be hard 12 through hard 16. They aren’t strong hands. But they’re big enough that hitting on them gives you a pretty decent shot of busting.

With the exception of a hard 12, basic strategy advises to stand on all of them when faced with a dealer’s up card of 2 through 6; and it advises to hit if facing a dealer’s up card of 7 through Ace.

Unfortunately those are the only options available to us. Unless you’re lucky enough to be playing blackjack at a table that allows for surrender; and then you had better be surrendering a hard 15 against a dealer’s 10 or a hard 16 against a dealer’s 9 through Ace.

These hands are stiff because the odds of them being successful hands are against the blackjack player. There isn’t really a play that will turn them around into successful hands. And that’s why we hate being dealt these hands. Because we feel powerless to have an impact on our game when we are playing a game we are used to being able to impact.

And there is the crux of the stiff hands. Blackjack players feel powerless against them. The most we can do is hit or stand according to basic strategy and hope for the best.

Even though we do not stand a high chance of winning or impacting the odds of those hands, we have to keep the overall game of blackjack and our overall odds in mind. We can make the play that basic strategy recommends, and allow that play to work towards bringing the house edge down to 0.05%, which is what basic strategy does if we play according to it. And that means sucking it up when we lose and think of the bigger picture.

Sometimes in blackjack we have to accept that while we made lose a battle here and there, we are going to win the war.