When to hit and stand in Blackjack : Complete Guide | LeoVegas NZ


Blackjack strategy involves hitting or standing based on the dealer's up-card and your hand value. Hits are advised when the dealer's card is strong, or your hand is soft. Stands are recommended for high hand values or when the dealer's card is weak. Memorizing strategies helps players make optimal decisions. Hand signals are used in casinos to communicate actions. Card counting can influence decisions. The dealer hits until reaching 17.

Table of Contents

When to hit and stand in blackjack

When to hit on blackjack?

Blackjack, like any casino game, is primarily based on luck. However, the probability of a player winning fluctuates as the game progresses, which means there are occasions where taking a certain action will improve the odds of success. Indeed, although there is no surefire method to guarantee a victory until the game has concluded, there is, however, an optimal move to be implemented in every possible scenario that materialises.

In blackjack, when to hit, double-down, split, and ‘surrender’ (the act of immediately withdrawing from the game after hole cards have been dealt and recouping half of the original stake) is captured in ‘basic blackjack strategy’. This approach serves to offer which is statistically the most advantageous move to make in any given situation.

To enhance the likelihood of winning, players should ‘hit’ in the following instances:

  • When the dealer’s up-card holds a value of ten (number ‘10’, Jack, Queen, King), and their hand adds up to 10, 12-16, or soft 18 (a ‘soft’ hand refers to a card set which includes an Ace).
  • When the dealer’s up-card is either a 7, 8, or 9, and their hand adds up to 9 or less, or 12-16.
  • When the dealer’s up-card is 4, 5, or 6, and their hand adds up to 8 or less. However, given the weakness of the dealer’s position in this scenario, it is imperative that the player does not go bust. Therefore, it’s very unlikely any additional hit commands will be required after this stage.
  • When the dealer has a 3, and their hand adds up to 8 or less, or 12.
  • When the dealer has a 2, and their hand adds up to 9 or less, or 12.
  • Always hit when their hand adds up to hard 11 (a ‘hard’ hand refers to a card set which doesn’t include an Ace).
  • Always hit when their hand adds up to soft 17 or less.

When should you stand in blackjack?

As per the principles conveyed in the previous section, there are also opportune moments online blackjack, where using the ‘stand’ instruction maximizes the possibility of triumph. Again, in know the right time to give this instruction, players should learn the guidelines of basic blackjack strategy.

To enhance the likelihood of winning, players should ‘stand’ in the following instances:

  • When the dealer’s up-card is 7, 8, 9, or holds a value of ten, and their hand adds up to hard 17 or above.
  • When the dealer’s up-card is a 4, 5, or 6, their hand adds up to 12 or above.
  • When the dealer’s up-card is a 2 or 3, and their hand adds up to 13 or above.
  • Always stand on soft 19 or above.

Factors to Consider When Deciding When to Hit or Stand

Evaluating Your Hand

To calculate the total value of your hand, you add up the values of all the cards in your hand. If your hand has a total of 8, it is advisable to hit because the chances of making a good hand are high with so many 10-value cards in the single deck anyway. When holding nine or less or 12-16, it’s best to hit, but stand on a total of 17 and over. If the dealer has a good hand (7, 8, 9, 10, 11), the player should draw until it reaches 17 or more. If the sum of your cards is from 5 to 8, regardless of the dealer, you should not hit.

The Dealer's Upcard

The dealer's up card is an important factor to consider when deciding whether to hit or stand in blackjack. The up card gives players valuable information about the dealer's position and their chances of winning.

An up card of four, five, or six carries the highest chances of the dealer busting, so it's best to take a stand when the dealer exposes an up card of 2 or 3.

When the other dealer shows he has a good hand (7, 8, 9, 10, 11), the player should draw until it reaches 17 or more. If the dealer has a bad card (4, 5, 6), the player should stop as soon as they get a value of 12 or more.

Card Counting and Its Relevance

Counting cards in blackjack can affect your decision to hit or stand. Card counting is a strategy used to give a player an edge over the casino by keeping track of the cards that have been dealt and using that information to determine the likelihood of certain cards being dealt next. By counting cards, a player can determine when the odds are in their favour and increase their chances of hitting at the right moment.

What does ‘hit’ mean in blackjack?

A ‘hit’ is the request made by a player should they wish to receive an additional card to their current hand. After receiving their ‘hole’ cards (the initial two cards dealt as the game begins), players will decide whether hitting is the best action based on the value carried within their original hand and the perceived strength of the dealer’s card set.

Clearly, as per blackjack rules, only one of the dealer’s hole cards is revealed at the start of the game (known as the dealer's face ‘up card’), so players must consider the potential score the dealer's hand could produce.

The player can hit as many times as they like, providing they don’t go ‘bust’ (exceed the targeted value of 21) or ‘double-down’. If the option to double-down is taken, a third card will be instantly allocated, and the betting stake is doubled, but no further player cards can be issued after this point.

What does ‘stand’ or ‘stay’ mean in blackjack?

If a player opts to ‘stand’ (sometimes referred to as ‘stay’ in certain circles), they are informing the dealer that they’re comfortable with the current value of their cards and are ready to enter the final showdown. Again, the decision to stand should be based on the visible cards in play and the likelihood of the dealer possessing a stronger overall hand.

What are the hand signals for hit and stand in blackjack?

Despite the impression given by certain popular culture sources, players playing blackjack in land based casino cannot simply choose how they communicate with the dealer, and indeed fellow table users, during a game of blackjack. There are a prescribed set of agreed hand signals in place to portray the instruction the player wants to issue.

Clearly, if playing online blackjack without the use of a webcam, the role of hand signals becomes defunct, and players will use the cursor to determine their next action. However, in brick-and-mortar venues, casino operators will expect all players to comply with hand signal rules. This is because using non-verbal indicators removes any ambiguity in the instruction, and, furthermore, allows CCTV footage to confirm a player’s intended action should any disagreements between participants arise. Hand signals should always be clear, purposeful, and in view of the dealer.

When hitting, players must scratch the surface of the playing table when their index finger. To stand, players should wave their hand across their personal card set.

In tandem with these straightforward gestures to represent the hit and stand instructions, there are also accompanying moves for double-down, double down or split up, and surrender.

The dealer also has their own repertoire of hand signals; however, it is not compulsory for players to learn what these signs represent.

Nevertheless, it does make sense for players to have a solid awareness in this regard, as it could impact their decision-making processes during a game.

How do you use basic strategy to check when to hit or stand?

In order to exploit the teachings of basic blackjack strategy, players are encouraged to obtain a basic strategy chart. This diagram outlines all of the extensive possible outcomes which play blackjack that may feature and suggests, from a mathematical standpoint, what is likely to be the most astute action to take in each scenario in order to enhance the win probability.

To use a blackjack basic strategy chart, users should locate their card combinations on the left-hand tab, before identifying the dealer’s up-card at the top of the table. The intersecting point between these two outcomes will advertise the ideal move to make in any given set of circumstances. Given the number of fields present, the vast majority of charts will use a ‘key’ system to populate its instruction grid. Therefore, players will likely need to cross-reference a letter or symbol with a key tool located away from the main table.

As this is about selecting the best possible move, and multiple possible player actions exist, these charts do not just illustrate when the ‘hit’ or ‘stand’ function should be used, but also highlight when either double-down, split, or surrender are the most preferable options.

It’s clearly not practical to be carrying a blackjack strategy chart to the casino each session, so players should look for other strategies to invest time in memorizing at least the most frequently deployed responses and practice its execution wherever possible.

Blackjack hit or stand FAQ

Do you hit on 11 in blackjack?

Yes – players should always hit on 11. Possessing a value of eleven is strong as the next card could precede a ‘blackjack’ outcome.

Do you hit on 13 in blackjack?

In most cases, yes. However, if the dealer’s up-card carries particularly low worth (i.e., same value between 2-6), the player should stand. This is because it’s unlikely that the dealer will realise a strong total close to 21. Therefore, hitting presents a pointless risk to the player.

Do you hit on 12 in blackjack?

Again, on most occasions, yes. However, if the dealer’s up-card reveals a 4, 5, or 6, the optimal strategy is to stand.

Do you hit 12 against a 2 in blackjack?

Hitting the 12 against the 2 gives you a slightly better chance of winning than standing.

Do you hit a 12 against a 3 in blackjack?

Yes, it is better to hit than stand in this situation.

Do you hit 12 vs 4?

Traditional basic strategy says to stand on hard 12 against a dealer's 4.

Do you hit 12 vs 5?

You should stand on 12 against any dealer's 5 due to the higher risk of a bust.

Do you hit 12 vs 6?

You should stand on 12 against any dealer's 4, 5, and 6.

Should you hit or stand on 16 in blackjack?

The player's next move here depends on the dealer’s up-card and whether the hand is a hard or soft 16. If the dealer’s up-card holds a relatively high value, it’s likely the advisable option is to hit and, conversely, stand if the card carries a low number. Given that a soft hand includes an Ace, this provides more scope for the player to hit, as this card can clearly be used to carry a high value card out of 1 or 11 into the round.

Should I hit at 17 in blackjack?

When holding a hand of 10 or 12 to 16, it is recommended to hit, and on anything with soft hands of 17 and over, it is best to stand.

Do you hit on soft 17 in blackjack?

Yes – players should always hit on soft 17. However, in most circumstances, it’s more logical to stand on hard 17.

Can you hit on 21 in blackjack?

No. Apart from this not being permitted, it would be an unproductive action to take. After reaching 21, regardless of the player’s card combination, to achieve this, there are no future cards that will better this score. Indeed, another hit would cause the player to go bust and automatically lose the game.

Does the dealer in blackjack have to hit?

No, there is no obligation for the dealer to hit at the hand early any stage during a game of blackjack. This is one of the reasons why players must be careful not to go bust, as, if this occurs, the dealer can win the game without incurring any risk.

Does a blackjack dealer have to hit a soft 18?

No – the opposite in fact. A dealer must stand on any value above soft 17.

Is it possible to lower the house edge by knowing when to hit or stand in blackjack?

Blackjack has one of the lowest house edges among casino games, and learning and practising blackjack basic strategy can lower it even more.

In blackjack, what is the lowest number the dealer does not hit on?

Usually, dealers hit until they reach 17.

Does the dealer have to hit on 16 in blackjack?

In most cases, the dealer has to take extra cards if the total is 16 or below.

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