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Blackjack Dealer's Up Card - Learn How to Analyze a Dealer's Up Card

The dealer’s up card in blackjack can be very indicative of the way the betting round will end, and all players want to be on the winning side of the affair. Based on the dealer's up card and your own cards, you can decide whether to hit, stand, double down, or perform any other available action. We will go through different scenarios and advise you on how to play those cards, so make sure to pay close attention.

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How to Read the Dealer’s Up Card

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To be able to read the dealer’s up card correctly, you need to have a firm understanding of how the rules of blackjack work. The dealer always follows a set of strict rules. While we can see their up card right away, the hole card remains hidden until it’s the dealer’s time to make a move. 

Blackjack variants have rules that tell us whether the dealer hits or stands on soft 17 (when their hand consists of an ace and a six). In most games, the dealer is required to draw until the hand totals to at least 17, but during hard 17 games, they must hit on soft 17, and that means that the next card certainly won’t cause them to go bust.

Understanding the odds and probabilities of a dealer going bust on certain hands can help you with making your own move. 

Let’s analyze potential situations and implied moves. 

Double Down on Your Hard 10 and Dealer’s Up Card Is 9 or Less

Image of Dealer's Up Card is 9 or LessIn this situation, you are holding a hand with a total value of 10, while neither of the cards is ace. The dealer’s up card shows a 9 or less. This is a great moment for you to double down and call for a monkey.

There are a lot of monkey cards left in the deck, including the aces, so you can get a blackjack easily without having to worry about the dealer getting a natural blackjack.

Go Hard on Dealer’s Up Cards of 4, 5, and 6

Image of Dealer's Up Cards 4,5 and 6One of the key takeaways from the basic blackjack strategy is that you should always play a hand aggressively when the dealer’s up card is 4, 5, or 6. Looking at the probability chart, you will find that the chances of the dealer going bust with these cards ranges from 39.58% to 42.28%.

The reason behind such math is simple. Even if the dealer has got a 10 as the hole card, with these three up cards, they will have to hit and thus potentially go bust.

Be Careful With Dealer’s Up Cards of 2 or 3

Image of Dealer's Up Cards of 2 or 3When the dealer is showing a 2 or a 3, they are most certainly going to take two hits, given the basic rules of blackjack. The probability of the dealer going bust in this situation is around 35%, which is pretty decent. Your advantage in this situation can be around 10%–14%.

So, your best bet is to stand on hard totals from 13 to 17 and always take a hit on a total of 11 or 12.

Dealer’s Up Cards From 9 to Ace Are the Strongest

Image of Dealer's Up Cards 9 to AceStatistically, the dealer’s advantage is at its highest when their up card is valued from 9 to ace. The probability of the dealer going bust with an ace as the up card is only 16.7% and around 23% on other 9 or 10-value cards.

If you have a hard total from 12 to 15, make sure to hit, but be prepared to surrender with hard 16 if you are up against any of the strong cards mentioned above.

Know When to Surrender

Surrender In Blackjack IconSurrendering is something none of us blackjack players want or like. However, if you are showing a hard 16 and the dealer is holding a 10, or if you are holding a hard 15 and the dealer is showing an ace, a 9, or a 10, you’d be better off surrendering.

The odds are already against you in this situation, and the hand is as good as lost. By surrendering, you will at least get half of your bet back.

FAQ

Can you predict the outcome of a blackjack hand? By using the basic strategy and by analyzing the dealer’s up card, you can get a pretty good understanding of how a particular hand may play out.
When should I always double down? Always double down on your hard 10, and when the dealer is showing a 9 or less.
Which up cards give the dealer the strongest hand? When the dealer’s up cards range from 9 to ace, that’s when the dealer is showing the strongest possible hand.
Which dealer’s up cards are most favorable for players to play the hand? When the dealer is showing a 4, 5, or 6, it is best to employ aggressive play since the probability of the dealer going bust is around 40%.
When should I surrender the hand? If your hand is showing a hard total of 16 or 15, and the dealer is showing a 10, surrender the hand. Statistically, it is already lost.

About the Author

Author Hi all! My name is Jayson Peter, and I am the Chief Editor here at Casino USA. I have always been a huge fan of casinos, but I noticed that there are not a lot of websites out there that discuss the gambling industry in enough detail, so that’s how the idea for CasinoUSA.com was born. With my extensive knowledge of the industry and the help of my team, I am ready to give you an insight into the exciting world of casino gambling in the United States.