When to stop hitting in blackjack

Of course, if you play blackjack, you’ll know what hitting is. This is when you ask the dealer for another card. You do this with the aim of getting even closer to 21 all while trying to avoid going bust. Going bust puts you out of the game and that’s why it’s so important to know when you should stand and keep the hand that you have. In this article we´ll teach you about when to stop hitting in blackjack. 

We’ve previously explored the things that go into making blackjack so popular. One of those things is the fact that this game is about more than just luck. Players have the opportunity to learn strategies which means they can lower the house edge and start to turn the game in their favor. A major part of turning the tide is knowing when you should hit and when you should stand. While you may wonder how you can ever know, the good news is that blackjack is based on math. Crack the math and you’ll know what to do every single time. 

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Stop hitting in Blackjack

Stop hitting in blackjack – When it’s time to stop

It has to be said that hitting is the most common action in the game of blackjack. More than any other, this is the one that you’ll find yourself doing the most. Why? Well, you need to build the value of your hand to make sure that it’s greater than what the dealer is holding. However, there are certain circumstances when you need to stop and, to be a successful blackjack player, you need to know what these are.

As an easy to refer to summary, you should stop hitting whenever any of the following apply:

  • You have a hard hand that’s worth 17 or more
  • You have a total of 13+ when the dealer has 2-6
  • When you have ace-9, making a soft 20
  • Your total is 12+ against the dealer’s 4-6
  • You have ace-7 (soft 18) against 2, 7 and 8
  • You have soft 19. The exception here is  when you’re doubling against a 6 where the dealer has to hit soft 17

We’ve covered this before, but it’s worth remembering that a soft hand is one that includes an ace. As the ace can be used as a 1 or an 11, it gives you a hand that is extremely flexible. 

Stop hitting in blackjack – The chances of the blackjack dealer going bust

It makes sense that blackjack players pay attention to their own hand. However, it’s vital that they don’t become consumed by this. Good blackjack players will take note of their own hand but they will also pay attention to what the dealer is holding, Why? Well, there’s no point in risking going bust if there’s a good chance that the dealer is going to anyway.

As an example, if the dealer is showing a 5 or a 6 you shouldn’t hit. That’s because the dealer has an almost 50% chance of going bust. If the dealer goes bust, you win so why risk putting yourself out of the game?

Many players go wrong because they make assumptions. Perhaps the worst of these is when they look at the dealer’s up card, they assume the hole card is a 10. Basic math tells you that this is not the case: there is only a 30% chance of this being the case. When you stop assuming and instead rely on probability, you can start to recognize the times when hitting is a bad idea. 

Making the most of a bad blackjack hand

While blackjack is reliant on skill and blackjack strategy, there is one thing that you have no control over whatsoever: the cards that you’re dealt. It’s a fact that the time will come when you’re dealt a hand that stinks! When this does happen, it’s down to you to play the hand optimally to at least give yourself some chance of a win. One of the worst scenarios that you’ll come across is looking at the dealer’s card and seeing that it’s an ace.

If the dealer has an ace, they have the flexibility that players enjoy with a soft hand. This means that there’s less chance of them going bust. When you find yourself facing this, it’s time to stop worrying about going bust yourself and to try an aggressive style of play. This is one of those times when you should keep hitting, even when you have 17+: you have little to lose. 

Stop hitting in blackjack – Hitting correctly in blackjack

If you’re looking for when the situation is negative for a blackjack player, this will always be the case when the dealer has a 10, jack, queen or king. When this is the case, math tells us that there is a 1 in 3 chance that they’ll have a blackjack. However, this is far from guaranteed. Players may see a value of 10 and panic but when they do this, they run the risk of going bust themselves. What they should be doing is hitting until they reach 17. When at this point, players need to stand.

The reason that you must stand on 17 or more is that it reduces the risk of going over 21 and being out of the game. 

The power of basic strategy

It can become confusing when you’re looking at the options that you’re faced with. Yes, hitting is the go-to action in many cases but how do players know when they should double down, split or even surrender? That’s where basic strategy comes in.

Blackjack basic strategy is your guide to winning at blackjack. Based on math and probability, it takes into account each scenario that you may face during a game. It then tells you what action you should take. When you look at a basic strategy chart, the hard work has already been done for you: you are being told exactly what you should do to maximize your chances of winning. So, when you look at your hand and wonder if you should carry on hitting, it’s basic strategy that has the answer. 

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