# Hit & Stand Blackjack strategy

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Most Blackjack players in Canada and elsewhere have likely encountered the terms hit and stand. They constitute the main strategy options when you play blackjack at Mr Green. It is therefore crucial for all blackjack players to understand them properly.

Many blackjack players can attest that the least attractive blackjack hands are normally found within the range 12 – 17. At the same time, these hands constitute approximately 40 percent of the total cases so there is no way of avoiding them. Players must face the reality that the house usually has a distinct edge in blackjack. From a player’s perspective, the best thing to do is to focus on decisions that could reduce the house’s edge and minimize the player’s long-term losses.

The optimal strategy in blackjack, also known as the basic Blackjack strategy, is widely considered the best strategy to pursue in blackjack. Its overall purpose is to maximize profits and minimize long-term losses. This introductory guide to hit and stand will present mathematical examples of when its best to hit or stand in a given situation.

## Hit and stand: what's the difference?

Hit or to stand? That is one of the fundamental questions in blackjack when you embrace the optimal strategy. It boils down to two different options:

• Hit = ask for a new play card
• Stand = keep your hand as it is

However, under the optimal blackjack strategy, there’s a specific order to follow. Before deciding on hit or stand, the blackjack player first needs to decide on the following:

• Surrender
• Splitting hand into pairs
• Doubling down

Only after concluding that none of these abovementioned options are mathematically optimal should you face the choice between hitting an extra card or standing.

If you decide to hit, you have the possibility of asking for one or several more cards, as long as the total value is 21 or lower.

If you decide to stand, your hand’s value will be compared to the dealer’s hand to decide who will emerge as the winner of the game.

## Deciding whether to hit or stand

The optimal decision on hit and stand depends on several different factors:

• The applied rules at the blackjack table
• The number of used card decks
• The value of your hand
• The value of the dealer’s cards

The tables below offer a user-friendly overview of which hands mean you should hit and which mean you should stand.

It is important to note that the tables below are based on the assumption that the surrender option is not available in the given game. However, if the surrender option were possible, then it would be numerically correct to surrender your hand if it has the value 5 while the dealer displays an ace. You can read more about the surrender option in our surrender strategy guide.

The player’s hands are displayed in the left column. The other columns indicate whether the player should hit or stand while facing different cards displayed by the dealer. The colour white means that it is mathematically correct to neither hit nor stand. In situations like these, the player should instead pick alternative options such as pair splitting or doubling down.

The remaining hands and the pair each have their own tables. Divisions are also based on the following factors:

• Number of used card decks
• Applied rules at the table

Also, a few words about the abbreviations. For instance, “S17” means that the dealer always needs to pick hit with all hands that have the value 17. On the other hand, “H17” means that the dealer needs to stand for all hands with the value of 17. The term “DAS” stands for “doubling after split.” By contrast, “NDAS” indicates the exact opposite: “no doubling after split.”

The reason these terms matter is that they indicate whether the important doubling down option is available to the player or not after a split. In addition, you should be aware of the fact that DAS and NDAS only have an impact on hit and stand decisions linked to pairs. From a strictly mathematical perspective, the right decision for all other hands are merely influenced by the S17 and H17 at the blackjack table.

Blackjack is a complex game that is not black and white. You can therefore sometimes experience situations where the correct decisions with pairs are identical for both S17 and H17.

Decks: 1
Table rules: S17
Type of hands: All except pairs

 Dealer’s card Your hand 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A 5 H H H H H H H H H H 6 H H H H H H H H H H 7 H H H H H H H H H H 8 H H H H H H H H 9 H H H H H 10 H H 11 12 H H S S S H H H H H 13 S S S S S H H H H H 14 S S S S S H H H H H 15 S S S S S H H H H H 16 S S S S S H H H H H 17 S S S S S S S S S S 18 S S S S S S S S S S 19 S S S S S S S S S S 20 S S S S S S S S S S 21 S S S S S S S S S S A – 2 H H H H H H H A – 3 H H H H H H H A – 4 H H H H H H H A – 5 H H H H H H H A – 6 H H H H H A – 7 S S S H H S A – 8 S S S S S S S S S A – 9 S S S S S S S S S S A – 10 S S S S S S S S S S H = Hit an extra card S = Stand

Decks: 1
Table rules: S17, DES
Type of hands:Pairs

 Dealer’s card Your hand 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A 2 – 2 H H H H 3 – 3 H H H 4 – 4 H H H H H H H 5 – 5 H H 6 – 6 H H H H 7 – 7 H S H 8 – 8 9 – 9 S S S 10 – 10 S S S S S S S S S S A – A H = Hit an extra card S = Stand

Decks: 1
Table rules: S17, NDAS & H17 NDAS
Type of hands:Pairs

 Dealer’s card Your hand 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A 2 – 2 H H H H H 3 – 3 H H H H H 4 – 4 H H H H H H H H 5 – 5 H H 6 – 6 H H H H H 7 – 7 H H S H 8 – 8 9 – 9 S S S 10 – 10 S S S S S S S S S S A – A H = hit an extra card S = Stand

Decks: 1
Table rules: H17
Type of hands:All except pairs

 Dealer’s card Your hand 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A 5 H H H H H H H H H H 6 H H H H H H H H H H 7 H H H H H H H H H H 8 H H H H H H H H 9 H H H H H 10 H H 11 12 H H S S S H H H H H 13 S S S S S H H H H H 14 S S S S S H H H H H 15 S S S S S H H H H H 16 S S S S S H H H H H 17 S S S S S S S S S S 18 S S S S S S S S S S 19 S S S S S S S S S S 20 S S S S S S S S S S 21 S S S S S S S S S S A – 2 H H H H H H H A – 3 H H H H H H H A – 4 H H H H H H H A – 5 H H H H H H H A – 6 H H H H H A – 7 S S S H H H A – 8 S S S S S S S S S A – 9 S S S S S S S S S S A – 10 S S S S S S S S S S H = hit an extra card S = Stand

Decks: 1
Table rules: H17, DAS
Type of hands:Pairs

 Dealer’s card/strong> Your hand 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A 2 – 2 H H H H 3 – 3 H H H 4 – 4 H H H H H H H 5 – 5 H H 6 – 6 H H H H 7 – 7 H S H 8 – 8 9 – 9 S S 10 – 10 S S S S S S S S S S A – A H = hit an extra card S = Stand

Decks: 2
Table rules: S17
Type of hands:All except pairs

 Dealer’s card Your hand 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A 5 H H H H H H H H H H 6 H H H H H H H H H H 7 H H H H H H H H H H 8 H H H H H H H H H H 9 H H H H H 10 H H 11 12 H H S S S H H H H H 13 S S S S S H H H H H 14 S S S S S H H H H H 15 S S S S S H H H H H 16 S S S S S H H H H H 17 S S S S S S S S S S 18 S S S S S S S S S S 19 S S S S S S S S S S 20 S S S S S S S S S S 21 S S S S S S S S S S A – 2 H H H H H H H H A – 3 H H H H H H H H A – 4 H H H H H H H A – 5 H H H H H H H A – 6 H H H H H H A – 7 S S S H H H A – 8 S S S S S S S S S S A – 9 S S S S S S S S S S A – 10 S S S S S S S S S S H = hit an extra card S = Stand

Decks: 2
Table rules: S17, NDAS & H17, NDAS
Type of hands:Pairs

 Dealer’s card Your hand 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A 2 – 2 H H H H 3 – 3 H H H H 4 – 4 H H H H H H H H 5 – 5 H H 6 – 6 H H H H 7 – 7 H H H 8 – 8 9 – 9 S S S 10 – 10 S S S S S S S S S S A – A H = hit an extra card S = Stand

Decks: 2
Table rules: S17, DES & H17, DES
Type of hands:Pairs

 Dealer’s card Your hand 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A 2 – 2 H H H H H H 3 – 3 H H H H H H 4 – 4 H H H H H H H H H H 5 – 5 H H 6 – 6 H H H H H 7 – 7 H H H H 8 – 8 9 – 9 S S S 10 – 10 S S S S S S S S S S A – A H = hit an extra card S = Stand

Decks: 2
Table rules: H17
Type of hands:All except pairs

 Dealer’s card Your hand 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A 5 H H H H H H H H H H 6 H H H H H H H H H H 7 H H H H H H H H H H 8 H H H H H H H H H H 9 H H H H H 10 H H 11 12 H H S S S H H H H H 13 S S S S S H H H H H 14 S S S S S H H H H H 15 S S S S S H H H H H 16 S S S S S H H H H H 17 S S S S S S S S S S 18 S S S S S S S S S S 19 S S S S S S S S S S 20 S S S S S S S S S S 21 S S S S S S S S S S A – 2 H H H H H H H H A – 3 H H H H H H H A – 4 H H H H H H H A – 5 H H H H H H H A – 6 H H H H H H A – 7 S S H H H A – 8 S S S S S S S S S A – 9 S S S S S S S S S S A – 10 S S S S S S S S S S H = hit an extra card S = Stand

Decks: 4/6/8
Table rules: S17
Type of hands:All except pairs

 Dealer’s card Your hand 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A 5 H H H H H H H H H H 6 H H H H H H H H H H 7 H H H H H H H H H H 8 H H H H H H H H H H 9 H H H H H H 10 H H 11 H 12 H H S S S H H H H H 13 S S S S S H H H H H 14 S S S S S H H H H H 15 S S S S S H H H H H 16 S S S S S H H H H H 17 S S S S S S S S S S 18 S S S S S S S S S S 19 S S S S S S S S S S 20 S S S S S S S S S S 21 S S S S S S S S S S A – 2 H H H H H H H H A – 3 H H H H H H H H A – 4 H H H H H H H A – 5 H H H H H H H A – 6 H H H H H H A – 7 S S S H H H A – 8 S S S S S S S S S S A – 9 S S S S S S S S S S A – 10 S S S S S S S S S S H = hit an extra card S = Stand

Decks: 4/6/8
Table rules: S17, NDAS & H17, NDAS
Type of hands:Pairs

 Dealer’s card Your hand 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A 2 – 2 H H H H 3 – 3 H H H H 4 – 4 H H H H H H H H 5 – 5 H H 6 – 6 H H H H H 7 – 7 H H H H 8 – 8 9 – 9 S S S 10 – 10 S S S S S S S S S S A – A H = hit an extra card S = Stand

Decks: 4/6/8
Table rules: S17, NDAS & H17, NDAS
Type of hands:Pairs

 Dealer’s card Your hand 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A 2 – 2 H H H H H H 3 – 3 H H H H H H 4 – 4 H H H H H H H H H H 5 – 5 H H 6 – 6 H H H H H H 7 – 7 H H H H 8 – 8 9 – 9 S S S 10 – 10 S S S S S S S S S S A – A H = hit an extra card S = Stand

Decks: 4/6/8
Table rules: H17
Type of hands:All except pairs

 Dealer’s card Your hand 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A 5 H H H H H H H H H H 6 H H H H H H H H H H 7 H H H H H H H H H H 8 H H H H H H H H H H 9 H H H H H H 10 H H 11 12 H H S S S H H H H H 13 S S S S S H H H H H 14 S S S S S H H H H H 15 S S S S S H H H H H 16 S S S S S H H H H H 17 S S S S S S S S S S 18 S S S S S S S S S S 19 S S S S S S S S S S 20 S S S S S S S S S S 21 S S S S S S S S S S A – 2 H H H H H H H H A – 3 H H H H H H H H A – 4 H H H H H H H A – 5 H H H H H H H A – 6 H H H H H H A – 7 S S H H H A – 8 S S S S S S S S S A – 9 S S S S S S S S S S A – 10 S S S S S S S S S S H = hit an extra card S = Stand

## What is the mathematical logic behind hit and stand?

Many players in Canada and around the world often inaccurately decide to automatically stand on hands with a value between 12 and 16. This is quite understandable because it is linked to the fear that you will bust your hand. After all, this can easily happen when the hand value is close to the magical number 12.

While this can often be a rational decision with these hands, the player should not automatically dismiss the alternative hit option. The dealer’s value is no less important. For instance, when the dealer displays a value of 7 or higher, there is a quite high likelihood that the house will finish with a hand value within the range 17 – 21. In order to beat this strong hand, the player needs to get an even higher hand value. In situations like these, it would be mathematically correct for the player to choose the hit option. However, we want to stress that this is true as long as neither split nor surrender are permitted in the game.

Far too many players also mistakenly decide to stand on soft hands. This is particularly true for the A – 6 hand. Why is this the case? Conventional wisdom supports it because 17 is considered a strong hand value to stand on. While this is true for hard 17, it is not the optimal decision to stand on soft 17. The mathematically correct decision for the player is to hit until he or she reaches a hard 17-21 or soft 18-21. Alternatively, the doubling down option should be considered.

Hit and stand is a crucial component in the optimal blackjack strategy, also known as the basic strategy. However, hit and stand should only be considered after dismissing alternatives such as surrender, doubling down or splitting. The hit and stand option is usually the most common decision that players make in blackjack. In order to use hit and stand optimally, you need to know the math behind it. Players can practice this strategy at our live casino.