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Blackjack Hit or Stand – Optimal Blackjack Strategy

Blackjack Hit or Stand

Knowing when to hit or stand in blackjack is the most important skill to master if you want to learn how to play blackjack or improve your skills further. The blackjack hit or stand is always the first decision you’ll need to make when playing any version of blackjack at an online casino UK.

If you make the wrong move, you could instantly lose the hand, which is why the most basic blackjack skill is knowing which decision to make. Luckily, a handy blackjack hit or stand chart exists, and we’ve created a quick, comprehensive guide that will teach you what to do in any scenario.

Keep reading to learn more about the blackjack hit or stand meaning and how to make the right moves to increase your chances of beating the dealer in one of the most popular casino games ever.

Blackjack Basics

We must start at the basics before we get into all the hit or stand blackjack strategies. You can follow a chart or use a blackjack hit or stand calculator to make your decision, but we suggest understanding how the game works and the basic blackjack rules. Remember, although chance and luck are a big part of the game, the right skills and moves can also help you increase your odds of success. Basic blackjack is the best strategy we recommend because card counting is not only highly complex but it's also impossible to do in online blackjack.

Blackjack is a card game played between the player (or players) and the dealer. Unlike other casino games, your opponent is only the dealer, not the players. The aim is to beat the dealer by getting as close to 21 as possible without going over this crucial number.

Whatever blackjack variant you’re playing, this is how the game is played in a nutshell:

  1. Place your bet by using the necessary number and value of chips in front of you.
  2. Once the bets are in place, the dealer deals two cards to every player. Cards are dealt facing up.
  3. The dealer also gets two cards, but one remains facing down.
  4. Once you get your hands, it’s time to decide whether you will hit or stand.
  5. When you’ve played your hand, the dealer will turn their face-down card and take additional cards if necessary according to the blackjack dealer rules.
  6. If your hand is higher than the dealer’s (21 or less), you win the hand. If the dealer’s hand is higher, they beat you, and you lose that round.

You don’t need to get an exact score of 21 to beat the dealer - you just need to get a higher total than theirs. To do so, you’ll need to know what to do with the cards you’re dealt and how to play them for a chance to beat the dealer.

That’s where the blackjack when to hit or stand question comes in. Hitting is the term used to refer to taking another card after the initial deal. There’s technically no limit to how many times you can hit and take additional cards, but as soon as you go over 21, you bust, and you’ll be out of the game.

Standing refers to keeping your initial cards and playing your hand as it is. If you stand, the dealer will reveal their hidden card, and the game's outcome will immediately be determined. Once you stand, no further moves can be made on your hand.

When to Hit in Blackjack?

Knowing when to hit or stand is a skill that takes some time and plenty of practice to master, but it’s easy to get the hang of if you understand the game and how to estimate the risk of busting. Hitting should be done if the chances of busting are zero or low. You might also consider hitting if you have a weak hand that will likely lose anyway.

Generally, if your cards total 11 or less, you should always hit. This is an obvious move without any exceptions, and it’s the only scenario where you don’t even need to consider what the dealer’s card is. It might be better to split or double down on some hands, but it’s always a good idea to take another card if your hand’s total is 11 or less for two reasons.

Firstly, it’s impossible to bust when hitting because the highest card you can receive is a 10-value card or an Ace, which counts as a one or an 11. The second reason is that standing would be a sure way to lose because your hand value would be too low to have any chance of beating the dealer.

Unfortunately, other scenarios are not so straightforward, and some hands are just tricky to decide what to do with. When your total is above 11 and between 12 and 16, this is where you’ll need to look at the dealer’s card. According to basic blackjack strategy, you should stand if the dealer has a relatively low card, between four and six.

If the dealer has a two or a three, you can risk hitting on a higher hand because the dealer is likely to bust. With such a low card, the dealer will likely draw several cards and bust in the process. Remember, in most blackjack games, the dealer must hit until they reach a soft 17.

In short, stand on anything between 12 and 16 if the dealer has a four, five, or six. If the dealer has a two or three, you should hit.

Something else to consider is whether you have a soft or hard hand. If you have an Ace, your hand is considered a soft hand with two possible values. Without an Ace, the value is fixed and referred to as a hard hand.

These terms are important because how you should play a soft hand differs from how a hard hand is played. For example, getting a total of 16 is one of the worst blackjack hands you can get and the most difficult to play right because the chances of winning it are slim.

If you have a soft 16, it means the hand is made up of an Ace, which has been assigned a value of 11 and a five. If you hit and get anything higher than a five, you would bust, but since the Ace can count as a one, you would then get a total of six. You can then hit again to improve your hand, and you won’t risk busting with just a six.

For this reason, it’s generally recommended to hit on a soft 16, but a hard 16 is a little different. You should only hit if the dealer has anything from a seven to an Ace. If they have anything lower than that, you should stand.

To summarize, the blackjack hit or stand on 16 rule is to stand if the dealer’s card is anything from two to six and hit on anything upwards of that.

Most online blackjack are single-deck blackjack games, but what’s fun about blackjack is that you can try out different variants. And with different variants come different rules, too.

We always stress the importance of reading the game rules before placing your bets because you can avoid making common mistakes this way. You can also find the best variants because not all rules work in your favor; some give the casino a bigger house edge.

In single-deck blackjack, the dealer usually has to hit until they reach 17. They must also hit if they have a soft 17, but there are rules where the dealer must stand on this hand. Double-deck or multi-deck blackjack are more common in live casinos. In fact, most of them use multiple decks and allow you to double after splitting, but it doesn’t affect the blackjack rules hit or stand.

When to Stand in Blackjack

If the chances of busting are high, then the obvious move to make in most cases would be to stand. The most important rule to remember is to stand on any hand that totals 17, 18, 19, or 20. No matter what the dealer has, the chances of busting by taking another card are too high, so you should stand.

If you get a pair, such as two eights or two 10s, for example, you might consider splitting rather than hitting. This will allow you to create two new strong hands. If you don’t want to double your bet, then you can at least hit. Standing on anything 11 or lower is always a bad move.

Moving on to the trickiest hand, let’s talk about what to do when you have a total of 13, 14, 15, or 16. In this case, you’ll need to consult a blackjack strategy chart if you’re unfamiliar with basic strategy or haven’t memorized most of it. And if you’re playing live blackjack, we suggest keeping a chart open in the next tab or perhaps printed out because the decision time for each hand is just a few seconds, so you’ll need to act fast. With a hand of 13 to 16, you should stand if the dealer has anything between two and six. If the dealer has anything higher, it’s still risky to hit, but standing wouldn’t be a wise move because your hand’s value will be too low to have a chance of beating the dealer.

Blackjack Hit or Stand Chart

If you’re a new player still practicing making decisions in this casino game and memorizing when to take another card or not, you might find a hit or stand chart very useful. It’s essentially a condensed blackjack strategy: hit or stand guide in the form of a table like the one below. This can be consulted any time you’re playing blackjack, and you’re unsure what to do.

Dealer's Upcard
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A
Player's Hand
8 Hit Hit Hit Hit Hit Hit Hit Hit Hit Hit
9 Hit D D D D Hit Hit Hit Hit Hit
10 D D D D D D D D Hit Hit
12 Hit Hit Stand Stand Stand Hit Hit Hit Hit Hit
13 Stand Stand Stand Stand Stand Hit Hit Hit Hit Hit
14 Stand Stand Stand Stand Stand Hit Hit Hit Hit Hit
15 Stand Stand Stand Stand Stand Hit Hit Hit Hit Hit
16 Stand Stand Stand Stand Stand Hit Hit Hit Hit Hit
17 Stand Stand Stand Stand Stand Stand Stand Stand Stand Stand
A-7 Stand Stand Stand Stand Stand Stand Stand Stand Stand Stand
A-8 Stand Stand Stand Stand Stand Stand Stand Stand Stand Stand
A-9 Stand Stand Stand Stand Stand Stand Stand Stand Stand Stand

Hit and Stand in Different Blackjack Variants

As we mentioned earlier, standard blackjack isn’t the only type of blackjack you can enjoy. There’s also live casino blackjack, but online blackjack also has popular variations like European Blackjack and Atlantic City Blackjack.

European Blackjack is a popular variant offering the option to place different side bets. With slightly different rules, when you hit or stand might be different. In Atlantic City Blackjack, a special move called surrender is available, allowing players to surrender or give up their hand once the initial cards are dealt.

This means that instead of hitting, standing, or even doubling/splitting, Atlantic City Blackjack allows you to forfeit your cards if you have a weak hand that you’re likely to lose. If you surrender, you get 50% of your original stake back, and you can play again in the next round if you wish to.

Blackjack Strategy Mistakes

One of the most common mistakes players make is not using basic blackjack strategy or deviating from it when they’re not getting the desired results. We always recommend using a chart or strategy chart to know when to hit or stand, but it doesn’t mean it’s a foolproof system that will be successful every time. Still, if you don’t get the desired results, it’s better to keep following it to have the best odds rather than changing your strategy throughout the game.

Following basic strategy is important, but you’ll also want to avoid some common mistakes such as the following.

Blackjack Hand Signals

Playing online blackjack is a totally different experience than playing blackjack in a real-life casino. Instead of clicking a button to indicate that you want to hit, for example, you’ll need to use the appropriate hand signal in a land-based casino. These signals allow the dealer to understand what you want to do with your cards and avoid any potential misunderstandings.

Here are the most basic blackjack hand signals to learn:

  • Hit: Tap your finger gently on the table in front of you.
  • Stand: Wave your hand over your cards to indicate you don’t want to receive more from the dealer.
  • Double Down: Place a stack of chips equal to your original bet. The chips should be placed next to your first stack of chips. You might also want to point to the new stack with your finger.
  • Split: Place a matching bet next to your original bet and make a ‘V’ sign with your first two fingers to indicate you want to split rather than double.

Table’s Minimum Bet

The minimum bet allowed shouldn’t affect your hit or stand strategy, but checking the table limits before you join the game is very important. We suggest finding a blackjack game with low limits so you can play for longer with smaller bets. Playing with low stakes is also a good way of managing your bankroll and avoiding the risk of massive losses, especially if you’re still learning the game. Trustworthy online casinos like Britain Play offer plenty of tables where you can play with just a few cents.

Ace Value

Remember that the Ace doesn’t have a fixed value like the other cards used in blackjack. It can either have a value of one or 11, depending on the value of the other card you’re holding. This should be considered when deciding whether to hit or stand because soft hands aren’t played the same way as hard hands.

FAQs About Blackjack Hit or Stand

  1. Should you hit or stand in blackjack?

    • It always depends on the cards you’re dealt and their total value. Sometimes, it also depends on the dealer’s face-up card, which should be considered when deciding. If your hand total is 11 or less, always hit. If it’s higher, hitting or standing depends on what the dealer has.
  2. Should you hit or stand on a 15 in blackjack?

    • The blackjack hit or stand on 15 is that you should stand if the dealer has anything up to six and hit if the dealer’s card is a seven or higher. The blackjack 16 hit or stand rule is the same.
  3. How do you know when to hit or stand?

    • With practice and experience, you’ll learn when it’s best to hit or stand, but you can also follow the basic blackjack rules hit or stand chart to help you make the most optimal decisions.
  4. What is hitting and standing in blackjack?

    • Hitting refers to taking another card when the first two cards are dealt. On the other hand, standing is the action of keeping your hand as it is. If you stand, the dealer won’t give you an additional card.
  5. Should I hit on 15?

    • Hitting on 15 is quite risky because if you get a seven or higher, you’re bust. The best strategy is to stand if the dealer has a six or lower and hit on a dealer’s seven or higher.
  6. Should you stand on 17 in blackjack?

    • Yes, blackjack strategy states you should always stand on 17 when playing blackjack, regardless of the dealer’s hand.