What to do with That Hard 16

In blackjack we always hate when we’ve been dealt a hard 16. And the dealer is showing a 10. It’s a tough hand to play, especially because we already know we have a greater chance of losing no matter what play we make. How great is that chance of losing? It’s 80%.

So even though we’re going into this hand knowing we’re probably going to lose, we should go down fighting. Granted, this is only a game of blackjack, not a life-and-death situation. But that doesn’t mean you sigh and sit back and make your play with your sad face already on.

At this point you’ve got two blackjack plays that you can try: hit or stand.

Basic strategy says to hit. And in most cases this is the best way to go. If you’re a novice player and don’t know a lot of the finer points of blackjack yet, this is what you do—hit.

But there are other clues to look at to determine the best play of make. If you’ve been card counting you know how the deck is running, and that will help you to determine which play to make.

But if you’re a novice or even an experienced player who doesn’t know how to card count, there are other clues that you can look at to determine which blackjack play to make.

First, look at the cards in your hand. Were you dealt a hard 16 or did you have a lower total and hit up to hard 16? What cards make up your hard sixteen?

Next, look at the cards of the other players. What are their hands made up of—high cards or low?

To show you how this works, I’m going to say that I had a smaller total and hit up to 16. So I’ve got a hard 16 made up of a bunch of low cards. The cards of the other players are more low than high or neutral.

So we can deduce that there are more low cards in play than high. We can reason that there are high cards still to come. In this instance, we would stand on our hard 16 against a dealer’s 10.

The reason for this, and this is where we start using blackjack logic, is that if we’ve reasoned that more high cards are coming and we already have a total of 16 with no Ace to reduce, we have a higher chance of getting a high card and busting.

So you aren’t always stuck with having to hit your hard 16. Look at the cards on the blackjack table around you and determine from those cards which better—hit or stand.