The Blackjack Hands Tips Guide

Blackjack, also known as 21, is considered to be one of the most dynamic casino games on the planet. Originating in France as Vingt-et-Un (twenty-one), blackjack has been relevant for centuries and has successfully spread throughout the world. This exciting game attracts all types of players, regardless of their personal preferences and culture. Moreover, many casinos nowadays offer an enormous diversity of blackjack tables featuring distinct betting limits. It doesn’t matter if you are intermediate or novice because either way, you’ll find a table that suits your betting habits and budget.

Blackjack, also known as 21, is considered to be one of the most dynamic casino games on the planet. Originating in France as Vingt-et-Un (twenty-one), blackjack has been relevant for centuries and has successfully spread throughout the world. This exciting game attracts all types of players, regardless of their personal preferences and culture. Moreover, many casinos nowadays offer an enormous diversity of blackjack tables featuring distinct betting limits. It doesn’t matter if you are intermediate or novice because either way, you’ll find a table that suits your betting habits and budget.

Primarily, blackjack is a casino game where players compete with the dealer/the house, instead of playing each other. Put simply, the aim of blackjack is to target a hand total of 21, or closer to 21 than the house/the dealer, without exceeding 21 (busting). The game adheres to simple rules which have unquestionably aided its ever-increasing popularity.

For you to evaluate the type and value of your hand, you should first comprehend the way of ascertaining the value of the cards you hold. This shouldn’t be difficult as the value system in blackjack is simple and easy to recall and understand. In simple terms, every card is worth the numeric value displayed, excluding the face cards: Kings, Queens, Jacks, and Aces. All the face cards hold 10 points each, except the Ace. An Ace is counted as one or eleven depending on the hand. With that in mind, let’s have a look at hands that you will predictably encounter during the game, and learn how to play them.

What are hard and soft hands in blackjack

Understanding the different hands in blackjack will undoubtedly assist you in playing the game. Studying this game step-by-step is vital because fully understanding the various types of hands will enhance your winning chances. There are some math strategies involved, so it is critical to learn everything slowly. Essentially, there are two types of hands: a soft hand and a hard hand.

What is a hard blackjack hand?

Hard hands are those that don’t include an Ace, or those that include an Ace that has to be counted as 1, because if not, the overall value would exceed 21. These hands are regarded as disadvantageous and are risky because you can bust by hitting. For example, if you get a hand like six and seven, you have a hard thirteen, and there is a high probability of busting if you hit. The methodology for how to play a hard blackjack hand doesn’t pertain to low hand values whose total is below 11 since they can be improved without busting; hence no risk is involved. In fact, the best strategy in such cases is to hit, no matter the dealer’s upcard.

How to play hard blackjack hand

The initial technique of playing hard hands is similar to that of a basic blackjack strategy. You need to fully comprehend all the basic blackjack strategies prior to getting started. This will help you understand and make the right decisions. With that in mind, let’s have a look at some general rules pertaining to hard blackjack hands that will assist you in acquiring some basic knowledge.

The initial trick to getting started is to always think about the dealer. Assume he possesses a ten in the hole. That is to say, you should add 10 to every number that the dealer shows you. This will help you to estimate his total. For instance, if he shows nine, assume he has a total of 19, if it was 10, assume his total is 20, etc. Basically, this estimated total is what you will be required to better to beat him and win.

So, you should hit your hard hands till you either reach 17 or beat that total. Obviously, it is challenging to either hit a hard hand 17 or hit a hard hand of 18, 19, or 20. The higher your total, the higher the probability that you’ll bust if you continue to hit, so you should stand on them in all the incidences.

Lastly, when playing a hard blackjack hand, you should consider hitting when you have hard totals of 15 or 16 versus the dealer’s 10. Many players get tempted to play a stand and hunch on the hard total, thinking that the dealer possesses a five or six under that 10 and will bust when they hit. If the dealer shows a 10, you are more than likely finished. So, it could be advisable to focus on hitting the hand until you bust or reach 17.

What are blackjack soft hands?

Having an Ace means you have a soft hand. In blackjack, an Ace is crucial because it can boost your total depending on your present situation. Possessing a soft hand implies that you can’t bust by hitting. Why? Because the value can literally be changed anytime! As you can’t lose by hitting, many players target soft hands for doubling-down. It is one of the best strategies.

Having that in mind, let’s focus on some possible soft blackjack hand card combinations that may arise when playing the game. For example, if you have an ace and a three, that is a soft fourteen. Let’s say the dealer possesses a strong upcard, and so you decide to boost your hand by hitting. You get dealt an 8; however, instead of busting, you can opt to change the Ace value to one. As you can see, the Ace is very important when playing blackjack. It is undoubtedly the most powerful card in the game, offering you flexibility for your hand’s total.

How to play blackjack soft hands

While you may not be able to predict when you’ll receive a soft hand, if you’re a regular player you’ll receive them at some point. It’s all down to the luck of the cards you’re dealt. Soft hands are ordinary in the sense that they are included in the basic strategy chart. Keep in mind that everything you do, and every move you take, has a significant effect on the potential outcome of your hand. Therefore, if you are looking to try to improve your success rate, it is best to comprehend the basic strategy.

Essentially, the recommended action in the basic strategy depends on the upcard of the dealer and the total in your hand. When making any move, you should first consider these two aspects. There are many basic strategy charts available for players, but each circumstance can result in an unexpected outcome. If you are going to pick a strategy, you should keep it and stick with it throughout the whole game.

Whatever game you play, the chances are that you will either win or lose. Nothing is guaranteed. So, while there are many great strategies that can improve your chances of winning, none is a 100% guarantee for you to win  every game you play. However, they can assist your chances of achieving a positive result. 

If you’re looking forward to improving your confidence to make good decisions when playing this remarkable card game, you need to understand when you’ve got a soft hand. With that in mind, let’s have a close look at some soft hand samples you can encounter throughout the game and learn your options for dealing with them.

Let’s say that you’ve been dealt an ace and a two, a soft thirteen. Regardless of what upcard the dealer has, the general consensus is that you should not stand on a soft 13. It’s not the best idea to stand on anything that is a soft hand from 13 to 17. Most players would be happy to have a 17 and stand, but in reality, 17 often isn’t good enough to beat the dealer. So,you have a good opportunity to take advantage of that ace and hit. Unless, the dealer has a 4, 5 or 6 upcard!

If you have a soft 13 to 18, and the dealer has a 5 or 6 upcard, you should double down. You do this because the dealer has a higher chance of going bust and it, therefore, makes sense to try to maximise your chances of profit, as you may well improve your hand. 

Finally, if you possess a soft 19 or 20, the best strategy is always to stand no matter the dealer’s upcard. You’re unlikely to improve a 19 or 20, however you got it, so making any moves other than standing can put you in a disadvantageous situation. Keep in mind that the average profitable hand is 18.5 points, implying that these two hands can undoubtedly beat the dealer.

Which is better, blackjack soft hands or blackjack hard hands?

Playing blackjack can sometimes be confusing, especially to the novice. Novices aren’t certain which type of hand is best for their situation. So, if you’re a novice, take heed; soft hands are much better for players. Why? Because they offer flexibility, allowing a greater ability for players to change their card total and achieve a strong value compared to the dealer’s upcard. In essence, the soft hand is a free hit, offering an opportunity to boost your total without suffering a potential bust on your next hit.

Always remember, a player cannot bust with a soft hand just by taking a third card from the deck. When you are dealt an Ace, no matter what else you have with it, it is not possible to bust with the third card because you can simply change the value of the Ace to one if you get dealt a card higher than a seven. In this situation, your soft hand will get back to the hard hand, allowing you to proceed to play in relation to the basic strategy.

If you have Ace and four – a soft fifteen, you hit and get dealt a five, you now have a soft 20. This hand combination stays susceptible to hitting because the Ace can be counted as 1 or 11, but you should restrain yourself from hitting. If you possess a total of 20, you have a higher probability of winning and should not ruin your hand by picking more cards. Always remember that the average profitable total in a blackjack game is 18.5.

Overall, soft hands offer greater benefits than their counterparts. Additionally, soft hands offer a chance to double down and boost your winnings, especially in a case where the dealer is in a tricky position with an upward card of 3, 4, 5, or 6. This way, you can take advantage of the dealer’s weakness and boost your value by betting a bit more aggressively.

Blackjack Winning Hands

Blackjack vs Ace card or any non 10

The Ace and 10 combination is the best hand in blackjack (21). This includes a 10 number card or one of the face cards, Jack, Queen and King. All players, including the dealer, will struggle to  achieve this often, as it only happens in around 5% of all games. In a traditional 3:2 payoff game, the hand value is normally 150% of your bet. This implies that for each 100 wagered when you have a blackjack, you win 150. 

Hard 20 vs seven

The hard 20 includes two 10 value cards. This combination is very strong and provides a good chance of winning in blackjack. Mathematically, the hard 20 versus 7 upcard gives a value of 77.32%. Ordinarily, the dealer’s upcard 7 is a critical card since the game rules give the dealer a chance to stand on a 17 total. As there are several 10 value cards in the deck, there’s a good chance that the dealer could draw a 10 and have to stand. So, you should stand on a hard 20 vs an upcard 7. 

Hard 20 vs 8

A hard 20 presents good value compared to the dealer’s upcard 8. According to research, the combination can win 79.18% of the bet when the dealer has an upcard of 8. In this case, the dealer only has one option to beat you: a total of 21. To get 21, the dealer is going to need to have a hole card (face down) lower than 9, so as to not have to stand on a total of 17. The dealer is then going to need to hit again and hope to make 21! 

A total of 19

When you have a hard 19, you should stand. Conversely, you could double down whenever you hold a soft total of 19 (an 8 and an Ace) and the dealer shows an upcard 6. But be aware, many casinos don’t tolerate doubling down on a soft 19, and you’ll just have to stand. 

A total of 18

If you have two 9s, that gives a total of 18. With this value, you’ll need to decide if you will split the hands or not. In most cases, players split; however, there are exceptions. For instance, you should split two 9s when the dealer shows 6 or anything less. Similarly, you should also split the 9s when the dealer shows 8 or even 9. Conversely, you should stand if the dealer shows 7, 10, or Ace. 

If you hold  a soft 18 and the dealer holds a 6 or anything smaller, then the best strategy is to double down.

A total of 11

Many players prefer doubling down when they draw 11 without taking into consideration the dealers upcard. Other players will consider doubling with an Ace upcard, in case the dealer lacks the blackjack, while some players don’t consider doubling versus the Ace, only when they draw a 10 and below. It all comes down to how aggressive you want to be, and ultimately, it’s your bankroll, so you should decide.

Worst hands in blackjack

16 vs 10

Basically, if you have a total of 16 against dealers upcard 10, you have one of the worst hands in blackjack. Mathematically, this figure combination brings a negative expectation of 0.5398%. Of course, you could get dealt a 5 or something lower and stand pat and hope that the dealer has a 6 or lower in the hole and hits to go bust. But that’s unlikely, and the dealer has the higher chance for a win.

16 vs Ace

Another awful hand combination is when your total is 16, and the dealer has an Ace. This total against an upcard Ace has a negative expectation of 0.5171% to your game. 

16 vs 9

Another deadly scenario is if you start with a total of 16, and the dealer has an upcard 9. Your total against that of the dealer brings a negative outcome of 0.5093%. You have few card options with a total of 16, whereas the dealer’s 9 gives him several cards options to have in the hole and win. 

15

Last but not least, 15 is another terrible hand in blackjack. Every aspect we’ve discussed applies to this one as well. If the dealer draws a 7, 8, 9, 10 or Ace, then you must hit. 

Final thought

Succeeding in blackjack requires some basic knowledge and, of course, executing a basic strategy. With the above guide, hopefully, you’ve learnt some tips that you can implement while playing. Have fun!

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