Blackjack Hard Hand Strategies

“Hard hands” in Blackjack (hands that don’t contain aces) are so-called because players don’t really have any slack for hitting and getting dealt high numbers; if this happens, they’ll almost certainly bust. However, there are some strategy guidelines that can give you your best shot of winning. Channel your inner Max Rubin by applying basic rules to enhance your chance at beating the dealer.

Always Hit on a Hard 8 or Less

The highest possible total you could get would be if the card you are dealt is an Ace. This would count as 11, giving you a combined hand value of 19 – which is under 21. Since there are more 10-value cards than any other in a deck during a game, your likeliest outcome is actually a total of 18, which is still a very respectable hand.

Always Stand on a Hard 17 or More

A hard 17 or higher has a very high risk of busting. There are far more cards that will push you over the total of 21, than will not. If it’s good enough for the dealer to stand on a hard 17 or more, it’s good enough for you!

Hard 9 Blackjack Strategy

You should double down if the dealer’s upcard is a 3, 4, 5 0r 6, and hit when it is anything else. Mathematically speaking, the dealer is almost sure to bust if the upcard is between 3 and 6 which gives you a great chance of beating their hand in the long term.

Hard 10 Blackjack Strategy

Double down if the dealer upcard is between 2 and 9, because they have to stand on 17 and you have a great chance of landing a 10-value card and getting the very powerful total of 20. If the upcard is an Ace or has a value of 10, the dealer is likelier to tie or even beat a player hand total of 20.

Hard 11 Blackjack Strategy

Since there are more 10-value cards in the deck, probability theory says you’re likeliest to land one of them every time you hit, and if you have a hard 11 that means you’ll get 21. With that in mind, double down on all dealer upcards except an Ace. In that case, there’s a strong possibility their hand is a Natural blackjack.

Hard 12 Blackjack Strategy

If the dealer’s visible card is a 4, 5 or 6 you should stand, because they have a higher mathematical probability of drawing a 10-value card than anything else. They’ll then have to hit again, which will result in them going bust. If they hold anything else, the odds of a bust decrease so much that hitting makes sense.

Hard 13 – 16 Blackjack Strategy

Stand if the dealer is showing a 2 to a 6; they’re likely to have to hit again and have a good chance of going bust. If they’re holding any other value card they probably won’t have to hit again and bust, you your best option is to hit with the hand you have – and hope for the best!