Blackjack hand types and how to play them

Blackjack has been a popular casino game around the world for decades. What do you think keeps players coming back for more year after year? Blackjack is full of possibilities. There are many strategies to consider and hands to play, and working on your skills can actually help you win more often. Whether you are new to the game or looking for a bit of a refresher, you’ve come to the right place. We can help you understand some of the factors to consider when strategizing your very own blackjack hand. 

This article will explore the different kinds of hands in blackjack along with how you can play them. If you’re new to Blackjack, you might want to know how to play blackjack.

Card values in Blackjack 

Card values in blackjack are fairly simple. Cards one through 10 are called “face cards”. These cards are worth exactly what their face indicates. This is in contrast to aces, Jacks, Kings and Queens. Aces are worth either one or 11 depending upon the player’s hand. If you would go bust with an 11, then it is worth one, and vice versa. Jacks, Queens and Kings are worth 10 each. 

Hands to play in blackjack 

Your hand is the most important thing in blackjack, and there are a few different kinds to consider. A “soft” hand is a hand with an ace. It is named a soft hand because the ace can either be an 11 or a one, as described above, depending on what the players’ other cards are. A “hard” hand refers to a hand without an ace. There is no flexibility in the values of the cards in the hand. 

We’ll discuss the best and worst hands below, but let’s look at some common hands. There are 34 potential hands to be dealt with at the start of a round. These include soft hands of A-2 through A-10, hard hands of five through 19 and a pair of aces through 10-cards. One of the most common hands is also one of the best: a pair of 10s! Remember that these include Jacks, Queens and Kings. The second most common hand is a 12 or 13. 

What is the best blackjack hand?

The blackjack best hand is the titular blackjack. This is a total of 21 right out of the gate. Generally speaking, there is nothing you can do to make a blackjack hand more effective aside from potentially increasing your bet as table rules permit. 

Other winning blackjack hands include a hard 20. If you are dealt a hard 20, you should stand. You will win around 80% of the time with this hand, and the odds of you making it to 21 without busting are slim to none. With that said, the dealer could still win with a 21. 

If a dealer’s facing card is an eight or nine, the second card will likely be a 10. This means that he will have to stand on hand values of 18 or 19 unless he goes bust, and your 20 wins. If he has a two through a six, however, he is likely to draw at least two cards. This could get him to 21. 

Recognize that this is a possibility going in and keep an eye on the cards as they are played. 

Other good starting blackjack card values include cards that combine to equal 10 or 11. Not only does this allow you to double down, but you also have a good chance at hitting 20 or 21 with your third card. Note that if the dealer also shows a 10-card, double carefully. He is just as likely to reach a total value of 20 as you are. 

Worst blackjack hands 

The worst blackjack hit hand depends on what the dealer’s cards look like. If you are dealt a 16, conventional advice might be to stand on it. In practice, however, this is not always the best bet. If you are facing a dealer’s hand with a 10-card facing, statistically, the dealer is likely to finish either at or just under 20. You have little choice in this situation but to hit and hope for the best. It is technically possible to win by hitting a 16-value hand, and you have little to lose in this situation. 

If you are dealt a 13 or 14, congratulations – you’ve been dealt an especially poor starting hand! But don’t worry – all hope is not lost. While hitting might be risky, it is often the best choice. If the dealer has a low-value face card, however, you should stand. The low-value card means that their second card is likely high, and they will have to pull another card. This puts them at a comparatively high risk of going bust, so standing in this case is actually the best choice. 

What hands to split?

When you are dealt two of the same card in blackjack, you have the option of splitting your hand. This means that you will take one of the doubled cards and use it as the start of a second hand. If your doubles are high enough, this can be a good way to increase your winnings. Save splitting for when your cards are eights or above but less than 10. You are unlikely to improve on a 20 by splitting your hand, and you are likely to win regardless. 

Blackjack hands to hit on?

In general, you should hit if you have a hand of 10 or 12 through 16, and stand on 17 and above. There are some exceptions to this rule, however, and we’ve discussed one of them above. A hand of 16 should actually be hit unless the dealer’s facing card is low. A low-facing card indicates that they will likely have to draw a third card and potentially go bust in the process, so standing on the 16 is the best choice. 

Blackjack hands to double down on

Successfully doubling down is a tricky technique to master, but we do have a few tricks to help. Keep the following in mind as you decide to double down or not.

  • If the total of your cards is 11, consider doubling down. The next card you draw will likely give you a high finishing value.
  • If you have a hard nine or 10, double down, but only if the dealer’s face card is low value.
  • With a soft 16, 17 or 18.

Avoid doubling down when the dealer has an ace as well as if your hand is hard and over 11.

Playing blackjack doesn’t have to be complicated. We’ve discussed the best, worst and most common hands in blackjack as well as how to decide to split or double. Keep our tips in mind and you’ll be ready to dominate tables!

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What hand is blackjack?

A “blackjack” hand is an ace with a 10-card. This equals 21, the best hand in the game!

Does blackjack automatically win?

Yes, a two-card blackjack automatically wins. 

What other BlackJack startegy Can i use?

There are many other strategies such as splitting when you get a pair of aces or 8s. If you want to learn more, we’ve got you covered!

Author: Tanya Fields

Campaign Acquisition Manager Length with RC: 1 year, 9 months Favorite Casino Game: Starburst Background in iGaming: Opened the iGaming Department at Hard Rock Atlantic City in 2018 in both Customer Service, and then CRM, prior to moving over to RC in January 2021 Location: Based in NJ at the RC HQ Content: Occasionally, but only as it pertains to RC

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