Knowing probabilities is key to blackjack success
Blackjack strategy is forged by probability. In its rawest form, you learn the probability of a favourable outcome based on your hand and the dealer’s face-up card. Basic strategy covers all possible outcomes for the start of a round, showing you where you can afford to take another card and where the risk of going bust is too great.
Probability of going bust by drawing another card
|The Value of the hand||Probability|
|11 or lower||0%|
As the table above shows, the higher the value of your hand, the greater the likelihood is of you going bust by drawing another card. While you would have known this already, it may not have been as clear as the above, where even drawing on 14 gives less than a 50-50 chance of staying in the game. The blackjack odds displayed above do alter slightly depending on the dealer’s rules on a soft 17, as shown below:
Dealer’s probability of going bust
|Dealers card||Probability of stopping at 17s||Probability on moves of 17s|
When calculating your blackjack odds, or drawing from the tables above, it’s essential to consider the dealer’s face-up card just as much as you do your own hand.
For example, you may be inclined to draw if your hand has a value of 13, but it does have a 39% chance of going bust. If you then look to the dealer’s card and see a four, five, or six, they have between a 40 and 44% chance of going bust themselves.
Just on this basic understanding of the dealer potentially going bust, you could hedge your bet and wait out the dealer – after all, you also win if the dealer goes bust and you remain.