The importance of odds
The key to becoming a successful blackjack player lies a lot in the understanding of odds and probabilities. No matter what cards you have been given and what situation you face at the table, it’s incredibly important to be aware of the chance of winning and probability of busting.
The key to becoming a successful blackjack player lies a lot in the understanding of odds and probabilities. No matter what cards you have been given and what situation you face at the table, it’s incredibly important to be aware of the chance of winning and probability of busting. Let’s start off by taking a look at what the probabilities are to bust when you hit an extra card to your starting hand:
Probability to bust on an extra card
|11 or lower||0%|
As you can see in the table above, the probability to bust becomes higher the higher the hand value you got. Perhaps we’re stating the obvious, but what’s not as clear is how big or small the probability actually is, which is important to be aware of. The importance of this becomes very clear when we also take a look at what the probability is for the dealer to bust depending on the first card shown. Please note that the probability for this varies depending on what the rules state; if the dealer has to stand or hit on soft 17 (17s). See the table below:
The dealer’s probability to bust
|Dealer’s card||Probability when standing on 17s||Probability when hitting on 17s|
Without any deeper understanding of odds in blackjack, it’s easy to believe that hitting on a hand value of 12 would always be the right decision. This is because 12 is a very low value and the fact that more than two thirds of the cards in the deck(s) would improve the value of it. Even though you got a weak hand, the dealer could also have a weak one (i.e. a six), which means that the dealer would have a high probability of busting. Only focusing on your own hand is a very common mistake as the dealer’s probability of busting is just as important to have in mind.
As you can see in the table above, the dealer has a 42-44% probability of busting when being dealt a six, which is very high. Because of this, it’s actually always the mathematically correct decision to stand if you have a hand value of a hard 12 (12 without an ace in the hand) when the dealer’s showing a six, unless you’re looking down at two 6s as a split would be better. In the long run you’ll unfortunately always lose money at a scenario like this as you have the odds against you, but by choosing to stand you’ll lose less hands than you would by hitting.