When it comes to playing blackjack there is, of course, one hand that we’d all love to be dealt. The natural blackjack, assuming that the dealer isn’t also holding 21, leads to an instant win and a boost to your bankroll. However, not all blackjack hands are quite so friendly. In fact, some of these are downright awful. They can’t be avoided though so they’re something that you need to learn to deal with.

If you’ve taken our previous advice, you’ll be well on your way to mastering basic strategy. Those who have a grasp of this can see the logic in making certain moves when they have a certain hand. It makes sense that you should never hit a 16 when the dealer has 6 as an upcard or why splitting a pair of 8s is a bad idea when the dealer also has a 6 showing. That being said, there are some hands where things don’t seem quite so obvious. We’re here to help with four of the most common hands that leave players stumped.

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**Bad Blackjack hands #1 – Dealer’s 10 vs. player’s 6-5**

If you take a look at basic blackjack strategy, it clearly states that you should double down on 11 when the dealer has a 10 upcard. The problem is that many players lose faith in the system and they bottle it. This leads to them hitting because they fear that the dealer is going to be holding 20 in total. That fear isn’t grounded in reality. That’s because when a dealer has a 10 they will only end up with a total of 20 in around 33% of cases.

Now, as a player with 11, by taking one card there is a 31% chance of getting 21. There is also an 8% chance of getting 20. That means that, by simply drawing one card, your chances of hitting 20 or 21 outweigh that of the dealer.

Taking this further, let’s imagine that you draw a 7, 8, 9 or 10 and it turns out that the dealer has the same as their hole card. In this scenario, you still win. Yes, doubling may well lead to a slight decrease in your chances of a win, but you stand to gain more in a monetary sense because you’re betting twice as much money.

**Bad Blackjack hands #2 – Dealer’s 10 vs. player’s 8-8**

Did you know that playing an eight twice against the dealer’s 10 will lose you less money than opting to play a 16 once? When you have 16 and choose to hit against a 10, you’ll only find yourself winning 23% of the time. This means that you’ll lose a whopping 77% of the time and win around four hands out of every 17. This is the reason that holding 16 against 10 is possibly the worst blackjack hand that you can be dealt. However, when that 16 consists of two eights things are a little different.

With a pair of eights, you now have the option to split. Now, you’re starting each hand with an eight against the dealer’s 10 which then gives you a winning potential of 38%. The likelihood is that you’re still set to lose money but you lose less by winning 32 hands and losing 62 by splitting than you do by hitting where you’ll win 23 hands and lose 77.

If you’re not yet convinced, here’s a simple example to demonstrate how each option plays out:

**Hitting**

Let’s say that you bet $10 on a hand. You win 23 and that leads to $230. You then go on to lose 77 hands which equates to a loss of $770. So, after 100 hands you’ve won $230 and lost $770. Your net loss is $540.

**Splitting**

By splitting 100 hands of 8s, you now have 200 hands. If you bet the same $10 on each split eight you will win 76 times. This gives you $760. You will then lose 124 hands which equates to $1,240. This leaves a net loss of $480. Still not great but better than the $540 that you lose by hitting.

**Bad Blackjack hands #3 – Dealer’s 9 vs. player’s 9-9**

If the dealer has a low-value upcard, it makes perfect sense to split a pair of 9s. However, if the dealer is showing a 9 you may decide that the best option is to stand with 18 as this can be seen as a strong hand. The truth, however, is that your hard 18 will only beat a dealer’s 9 around eight times out of 20. Yes, 18 may appear to be a strong hand but when facing a dealer’s 9 that’s simply not the case.

If you are looking to get even close to a break-even scenario with this hand, you have to go for aggressive play and split.

**#4 – Dealer’s 3 vs. player’s 10-2**

It is often accepted in blackjack that you should never risk busting when you can see that the dealer has a weak card. Yes, this may be true for the majority of stiff hands but it doesn’t apply when you find yourself holding 12 against a three. Basically, there are only four cards that can lead to you going bust – these are 10, jack, queen and king. Then there are five cards that will bring you into the range of 17-21.

What this means is that there are more cards that can take you to a great hand than there are that will lead to you going bust. When that’s the case, it obviously makes sense to hit rather than stand.

**Final thoughts**

By mastering basic strategy you have the opportunity to get the house edge down as low as possible. This is only achievable when you’re playing this strategy to the letter. It’s normal to find yourself with a hand where you’re not 100% where to go and the only thing that will help you here is practice. The reality is that every move is proven with math and so you have to place your trust in this next time you play 21 at your land-based casino or online casino.

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