In the game of ... the final hand you hold can only be one of the ... - a ... 21, 20, 19, 18, 17, 16 or less, or bust. If you bust, you have lost, whereas if you hold ... th
In the game of blackjack, the final hand you hold can only be one of the following - a blackjack, 21, 20, 19, 18, 17, 16 or less, or bust. If you bust, you have lost, whereas if you hold blackjack the worse case scenario is a tie with the dealer with the best case scenario being you get paid a bonus of 1.5 times your stake. You probably realize that the chances of winning if you stand on your 17 - 21 are very important, so what are they? Not as good as you might like!
Here's an example stand on 17 in a 6 deck game (the dealer must stand on 17). You are probaqly thinking that's a good hand and are happy to happy to have 17. The statistics prove though, that you will lose more often than win if the dealer shows any face card except a 6. The most money is lost in this scenario when the dealer shows a 9, the least when the dealer shows a 4 or a 5. Make a mental note - you only stand a fighting chance when the dealer has a 6 showing. Only in THIS case will you have a statistical chance of winning money in the long run. You will now be wondering how you can make money, given these facts. You can't. If you hit a hard 17 you will expreience mounting losses, so the wise course of action is simply to stand. Of course, often you can stand on 17 and still win a hand but the numbers add up inexorably - over time you will end up losing more money than you win UNLESS the dealer shows a 6. Standing on 17 is not a good idea!
Now you know that 17 is actually not a good hand, you have probably already realized you should never stand on soft 17 (instead you should either hit or double down). There is a further disadvantage too, when the dealer hits soft 17, as follows. Imagine you stand with 18. This has GOT to be better than standing on 17, right? Yes, but the improvement in your odds might surprise you. With an 18, and over the long run you are going to make money when the dealer shows a 2 to 8 face card. You will still actually LOSE money when the dealer's showing a 9, 10 or Ace. For this reason you should never stand, but should always hit a soft 18 if the dealer shows a 9, 10, or Ace.
Statistical 'Monte Carlo' analysis of Black Jack by www.supabets.com has revealed that in the imaginary case of you ALWAYS having a hand of 18, the surprising fact is that you would LOSE an average of about 65 cents for every $100 you bet. 18 ain't such a great hand! Human psycology is what makes us think the opposite - 18 is 'nearly 19', and 19, or course, is 'nearly 20'. An 18, in the subconscious mind, is therefore 'nearly 21'!! What about 19? Can we regularly stand on 19 and win money in the long run? 19 MUST be a winning hand! The answer is... Yes, except if the dealer shows a 10 or Ace. If that is the case, your 19 will still cause you to lose money in the long run. Hard to believe, huh? When you get up to 20 you are basically in the money. This hand will make you money in the long run whatever the dealer holds, even including an Ace. As 20 is such a phenomenally strong hand, NEVER split it 10 10 (and likewise an Ace 9 should never be doubled). It's a winning hand - and if it ain't broke, don't fix it!
This brings us to the statistical realization that over 2 thirds of your blackjack winnings at will come from these 2 hands (Ace 10 and 10 10). Further down the chain, the bulk of the rest of your winnings will come from only 5 more hands - 11, 10 9, 10, Ace 9, and Ace 8. That's why you must burn in the strategies for these hands because they are the ones that will make you money. If we are talking multiple decks always double down on 11 if the dealer is showing 10 or less. The general case - always double 10 if the dealer is showing 9 or less. Always stand on hard and soft 19. Always stand on soft 18, except if the dealer is showing a 3 through 6, where you should double down. Always hit when the dealer is showing a 9, 10 or Ace but stand on 2, 7, and 8.
Now the bad news - the following hands are responsible for the vast majority (almost 85%!) of your losses. Beware of hard 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, and 17. The hard 12 through 16 hands are long term loseing hands whatever strategy you adopt. The overall message? Gear the basic playing strategy into your head so you can play it without thinking - know what to do when the winning hands appear. Use money management to supplememnt this - bet more when the deck is still heavy in tens and Aces (card counting per se is frowned on, of course, but you sould always have some grasp on what's already been played!). This is the simplest way to turn the blackjack odds in your favour, and ensure you leave the casino with more money than you went in with! Good luck!