Hit & Stand in Blackjack

You have two basic options when playing blackjack online or in a brick-and-mortar casino: to hit or to stand. In time, you will learn the strategies to apply when it comes to hitting or standing. However, most beginners rely on their gut feeling when making this decision. 

There is a blackjack strategy chart everybody can study, which can expedite this process of learning blackjack. It can teach you when it is the right time to hit or stand.

This strategy guide is based on probability and doesn’t ensure you’ll win every hand you play, but it might improve your chances and point you in the right direction. 

What Does It Mean to Hit or Stand?

The game rules are simple — each player at the table, real or virtual, is dealt two cards, and so is the dealer.

To beat the dealer, you must get as close to 21 as possible when the value of your two cards adds up. However, bettors need to be careful that their hand doesn’t exceed 21. Otherwise, they will go bust, meaning they lose. 

  • Note: There are two key playing actions in blackjack – hit and stand (also referred to as ‘’stay’’).

If you are dealt a hand you are not satisfied with, you can hit, which means taking an additional card. This way, you can improve the value of your hand, but you must be aware that by drawing another card, you risk going over 21 in total.

Conversely, if you are happy with your cards, you can stand, which means you don’t want any additional cards.

Before taking any steps, it is of the utmost importance to familiarize yourself with the blackjack basics and know the value of each card. For instance, number cards are worth their face value, whereas face cards (jack, queen, and king) are worth 10. An ace can be worth one or 11, depending on what’s best for the hand. 

Furthermore, knowing when to hit or stand is beneficial for the player, as it can lower the house edge by half. Blackjack has a low house edge anyway, so this can make you almost unbeatable. 

Hitting and standing at an online casino is quite simple. Bettors need to press the button saying either hit or stand. This action is a bit different in a land-based casino, and players have to use hand signals to tell the croupier what they want to do. 

When to Hit

Blackjack player Hit CalledIn cases when you are dealt a lower hand, let’s say a total of 8, it is logical to hit. The chances are that your next card will help you make a good hand since there are so many number cards left in the deck.

You should also hit if the dealer holds a relatively high-valued card, such as a 7, an 8, or a 9. The chances that they’ll make 21 are high, which we don’t want, and this way, we are trying to beat their hand.

Conversely, some players will still hit even if their total is 12 or 13, while the dealer only has a lower hand. The chances of going bust in this scenario are high, but it depends on the card you draw next.

Here are a couple of more situations when it is advisable to hit.

  • If you have 11 and the dealer has an ace
  • When you have an 8 or 9 and the dealer has a 2 or 7 through ace
  • In situations when your total is five, six, seven, or eight
  • If the dealer’s upcard is a ten or an ace, and yours is also a ten

When to Stand

Blackjack Player StandingIn addition to hitting, a player must also know when to stand to increase their chances of winning. Bettors should always stand if their total is 17, 18, 19, or 20. By drawing another card, their chances of going bust are high.

When it comes to standing in blackjack, it is essential to learn the difference between soft and hard hands. A soft hand is a hand that contains an ace, which can either count as one or eleven depending on what the player needs.

In contrast, hands made up of other cards are referred to as hard hands. Once more, it is vital to know this because your next move depends on whether you have a hard or a soft hand.

It is best to stand if, for example, you have a hard 16, while the dealer has a six as their up card. Furthermore, you should stand if you have a total of 12 or anything higher while the dealer has four, five, or six because he is likely to go bust.

Here are a few more situations when it is advisable to stand.

  • When the player has a total of 17–20
  • If the player is dealt anything from 13–16 and the dealer shows two to six
  • If the player has 12, and the dealer has four, five, or six.

Soft Hand vs. Hard Hand

We already mentioned that learning about soft and hard hands is significant, especially if you follow the basic blackjack strategy.

The difference between these two hands lies in one card — an ace.

This way, soft hands are more malleable because an ace can either be one or eleven. Hard hands are devoid of that flexibility, and there is no ace.

Soft hand verses Hard hands in blackjack

But why is this concept of soft and hard hands so important?

There are two reasons for that. First, in some blackjack variations, the dealer must stand on soft 17, while in others, the dealer must hit. Being aware of this makes it easier for players to anticipate the dealer’s next move. 

The essence of this concept of soft and hard hands is that a bettor can always opt to hit without going bust when having a soft hand. The point is to keep hitting until the soft hand becomes hard.

On the contrary, a player should hit or double down if they are dealt a hard hand of 11 or lower, whereas they should stand if their hard hand is 17 or higher. However, if the player has a hand of 12 through 16 in total, their next move (hit/stand/surrender) will depend on the dealer’s upcard.

Players must always stand if they are dealt a soft 19 or 20. Their hand is strong enough to beat the dealer up card.

Soft 18 can be tricky since the bettor’s action depends not only on the dealer’s up card but also on the number of decks, the game’s rules, and how the dealer plays their hand. On the other hand, the player can hit or double down if they are dealt a soft 17 or less. 

Wrapping Up

To sum up, you should always hit if you are dealt a total of 16 or less. Even when you have as little as 12 in total, you still have a chance to go bust, but the benefits of hitting outweigh the costs in this case.

On the contrary, you should always stand when you have 18 or more in total. In this case, you are more likely to go bust if taking an additional card.

Keep Reading: What Is a Blackjack ‘Early Payout’ and How Does it Work?

About the Author

Author Malik is one of the youngest members of our team and a relative newcomer to the gambling industry. His love for casino gambling came a few years ago when he got a job as a professional blackjack croupier at a local casino, while he also enjoys playing poker with his friends. Malik’s mission at CasinoUSA is to talk about the new casino sites on the block and tell you everything about their bonuses and promotions. His reviews go into the smallest of details so you can know what to expect from a given casino site before you start playing there.