Are you hitting too much in blackjack? Learn the best and worst moments to hit using basic strategy with Mr Blackjack, and avoid taking unnecessary risks in your games.
Avoid unnecessary risk in your games by applying basic strategy to hitting with Mr Blackjack’s advice.
Hit is one of the most popular moves in blackjack, and it's easy to see why: it brings more excitement and risk to the game. It's easy to get caught up in the fun of hitting and the anticipation of being dealt a winning hand, but all too often, players bust out when they could've beaten the dealer on marginal hands.
This is exactly where basic strategy comes in. It tells you which hands will statistically give you the best odds if you hit and the ones to avoid. Basic strategy will also tell you special scenarios when the odds between you and the dealer are close and how to play these tricky scenarios to your advantage.
The question you all want to know is: when do you hit?
You hit when both of your initial two cards are below 10. This is an easy decision to make. You want to get as close to 21 without going over. If your current card value is nine, there is no card that you can get that will make you get 22 or more. I guess you can call this a free card — you can improve your hand without any risk. In this situation, you always hit.
The same goes if your third card gives you a total value of eight. You will hit again and apply that same principle every time you can improve your hand without busting.
You also hit when your dealer has a made hand, and you need to get a better score than the dealer. The dealer has a made hand when they are showing a seven or more. In these cases, when you have less than 17, you must take a card in order to improve your score to at least 17 or more.
It may happen that you hit and go over. That is okay if you made your decision based on the available data, and it’s advantageous to take another card versus standing and praying that the dealer busts.
Here are a few occasions when it's not so apparent that you need to hit.
- Player 16 on a dealer 7
- Player 12 on a dealer 2 or 3
- Player 15 on a dealer 10
Keep in mind these are all based on basic strategy and the math does not always work out, but it is important to hit when the math says to hit and play consistently.
So, to recap:
- You hit when your hand value is less than 10
- You hit when your third card gives you a total value of 8
- You hit if the dealer's up-card is 7 or more and you have less than 17
- You hit if you have 16 and the dealer has 7
- You don't hit if you have 12 and the dealer has 4
- You don't hit if you have 15 and the dealer has 2
What this lesson covers
- The best hands to hit
- The worst hands to hit
- The trickiest hands to hit in blackjack
- How to apply basic strategy to hitting
Meet Mr Blackjack
With a career spanning two decades, Mathieu Blake knows his way around a blackjack table. He's taught and entertained over 100,000 subscribers on his YouTube channel NeverSplit10's . In this series he'll take you through basic strategy, card counting, and bankroll management. Take a seat with Mr Blackjack and become a winning player.
Want to learn more about Blackjack?
- Do you hit or stay on 16?
It depends on the dealer’s up-card. If the dealer has 7 or 8, you should hit. Surrender if the dealer has 9 or higher, otherwise hit. If the dealer has 6 or less though, you should stay.
- Do you hit on 17?
According to basic strategy, you should stand. This is regardless of the number of decks in play.
- Should I hit on 12?
If you have 12, there are only three scenarios you shouldn’t hit. If the dealer’s up-card is 4, 5, or 6, you should stay. These are bust cards and you have a better chance of standing on a low hand and letting the dealer bust, than trying to go over 17.
- Should I change my hit strategy if the dealer hits on soft 17?
Most casinos require the dealer to hit on a soft 17 in blackjack. It’s more likely you will have to change your strategy and hit more often when the casino restricts moves such as split or surrender.
- Do basic strategy rules on when to hit apply to online blackjack games?
Yes, basic strategy still applies to online blackjack games, especially live blackjack. Remember though that games powered by random number generator (RNG) algorithms don’t have a discard tray, so the same card can appear later in the game.
- Does basic strategy advise the maximum number of times you should hit?
There isn’t a set minimum or maximum you should hit in blackjack. Basic strategy gives advice on the specific hands in play, not the number of times you should make a move.
- What are the best hands to hit on according to blackjack basic strategy?
This depends on the dealer’s up-card. Overall, you want to get a hand of 17 or more, unless the dealer has a bust card. Then, it’s more likely you can win by standing on a low hand and letting the dealer bust.