Players, who wish to improve their blackjack playing skills, would be wise to have a well-formulated strategy for each of the hands the player may encounter.
In blackjack there are more hard hands than soft hands. These hands can also be trickier to player. This introductory guide, will therefore, focus on preparing players for hard hands.
Before developing different approaches to hard hands and soft hands, it’s important to have a clear understanding of these two hands. The most important card when it comes to differentiating between these hands is the Ace. It’s also important for a player to note that an Ace can have a value of 1 or 11. The player decides on the Ace’s value by considering the other cards in hand.
With a soft hand, there is an Ace card and the card has a value of 11 generally. An Ace in a soft hand is flexible, however, and can be counted as 1. For example, if a player has an Ace, 6 card and draws a 5 card the Ace can, in this case, be counted as a 1 to prevent the player from going bust. This is not the case with hard hands, however.
A hard hand does not need an Ace unlike the soft hand. In cases where hard hands do contain an Ace, the card is valued at 1 and cannot be counted as 11 as in the case of a soft hand. It is for this reason that the soft hand is seen as being easier to play. The flexibility of the Ace gives the player more leeway and far more options than with a hard hand.
There are two golden rules when it comes to hard hands. Whether a player is a novice or a very experienced blackjack player, a player should keep these rules in mind. Firstly, if a player has a hard 8, a hard hand valued at 8, the player should always hit. This is because there are more cards valued at 10 in the pack then with any other value. This means that the player’s chances of going bust by drawing another card are impossible. It also means that with such a hand there’s a fairly good chance of ending up with a hand worth 18. And in blackjack terms, that’s very impressive and not too risky.
The second golden rule says that if a player has a hand with hard 17, a hard hand valued at 17, the player should stand. One can apply the same logic as we used with the hard 8 hand. Since there are more 10 cards than anything else in a pack, the chances of going bust, in this case, are too high. A hard 17 hand is a strong but risky one.
The hard 8 and hard 17 are the simplest hard hands to deal with. Other hard hands are far more complicated and require a lot of strategizing. Below are some easy to follow tips on how best to play different hard hands. Of course, these are just guidelines and a player needs to use their own judgement and understanding of the game when it comes to playing these hands.
There are two things a player needs to consider before playing a hand. Firstly, the cards the player has. Secondly and perhaps more importantly, the dealer’s cards. Remember in blackjack one is playing against the dealer so his/her showing card is essential to consider. Of the dealer’s two cards, only one is showing. Players should, therefore, always assume that the dealer’s hidden card is a 10.
Playing a hard 9
If the dealer’s showing card is any card between 3 and 6, this is a strong hand for the player. It’s recommended that with such a hand, the player double the initial bet made. In other words, the player should double down. This is because with such a hand there is a good chance the player will end up with 19 due to the commonness of 10s.
The dealers showing card increases the chances that the dealer will have a stiff hand (where the value of the cards is between 12 and 16). With such a hand the dealer is likely to go bust.
If the dealer has any card other than 3, 4, 5 or 6 the player should simply hit.
Playing a hard 10
If the dealer’s showing card is any card between 2 and 9, the player should double down. Since there is a good chance of picking up a card valued at 10, this is a very strong hand for the player. The chances are very high that a player who already has a 10 will pick up another 10. A hand valued at 20 is almost blackjack and is terribly difficult to beat.
If the dealer’s showing card is anything other than a 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 or 8 the player should hit and shouldn’t risk betting more money.
Playing a hard 11
If the dealer’s showing card is anything between 2 and 10, the player should double the initial bet and double down. Once again, due to the commonness of 10s, a player can assume that the next card drawn is likely to be a 10. This is a very strong hand for the player. The chances of going bust aren’t high. On the other hand, the player could very easily get blackjack.
If the dealer’s showing card is an Ace, there is a chance that the dealer has blackjack and so the player shouldn’t risk betting more money. In this case, the player should hit.
Playing a hard 12
If the dealer’s showing card is any card between 4 and 6, the player shouldn’t take any risks and should stand. From the dealer’s showing card, it is possible the dealer may have a stiff hand and could go bust. If that is the case, standing increases the chances of the dealer going bust first. That’s the most desirable for the player.
If the dealer’s showing card is anything other than 4, 5 or 6 there is less of a chance that the dealer will go bust fist. In this case, the player should take a risk and hit.
Playing a hard 13 – 16
If the dealer’s showing card is any card between 4 and 6, the player should stand. There is a chance that the dealer has a stiff hand and will be the first to go bust. Thus, in this case the player would be wise to wait it out.
If, however, the dealer’s showing card is anything other than 4, 5, or 6 the player should take the risk and hit. Player’s need to be careful, however, as there is a chance the player could go bust first.
Playing a hard 17 – 21
With such a hand a player should always stand regardless of the dealer’s showing card. Such a hand is both very strong and potentially terribly risky. If a player draws a card they are likely to go bust. The best is therefore to wait patiently and see what the dealer is up to.
Hard hands can be very challenging to play. There is a lot to consider and a player needs to be sure to keep an eye on the dealer’s showing card. With practice a player will develop a stronger strategy and a more skilled approach to hard hands.
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