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The Best and worst blackjack hands and how to play them

Profile Picture: Simon Young

June 16th, 2020

Blackjack is eternally popular because it is a game that offers so many possibilities. Unlike roulette, where you bet and wait to see if you win (just as you do in baccarat), in blackjack, you need to strategize your way to victory. You don’t need to have deep-rooted knowledge, but a basic understanding will help your bottom line.

The key is recognizing that there are many variables at play – the main two being the strength of your starting two cards versus the strength of the dealer’s one upcard. The stronger your cards, and the weaker the dealer’s card, the better position you’re in to win.

Without further ado, let’s look at the best and worst blackjack hands and how to play them.

Best blackjack hands

As the name of the game suggests, the best hand is blackjack. That’s an ace and a ten, jack, queen, or king. With a starting total of 21, your hand can’t be beaten unless you’re super unlucky, and the dealer has blackjack as well, and you tie.

The next best hand is a hard 20, which is two value ten cards. Some casual players might be tempted to split their tens and play two separate hands at twice the cost. But why risk twice as much when you are a winner nearly 80% of the time with a made 20?

While always standing on 20, be sure to recognize that the dealer can still win by drawing to 21. And that will happen more with some upcards than others. For example, if the dealer shows an eight or a nine, the chances are his second card will be valued ten, which means he must stand on 18 or 19. You win. However, if he has two to six, then he will draw at least two cards, which could get him to the top spot.

Other good blackjack starting hands are cards that combine to make 11 or ten since you can double down your stake. Now you’re in with a high chance of your third card making 20 or 21. Be wary of doubling down with ten if the dealer also shows a ten-card, because he is just as likely to make 20.

Worst blackjack hands

Statistically speaking, the worst starting hand in blackjack is 16 when you are facing a dealer card valued at 10. The dealer’s card makes it likely he will finish with 20 or just below – so you really should take another card at 16 and hope to get lucky.

The next worst starting hand in this scenario is 16 versus an ace, followed by 16 against the dealer’s nine. You must then factor in your 15-value hands against the dealer showing a ten, ace, nine, and so-on.

However, all is not lost. Say you get dealt 13 or 14. It’s a rotten starting hand since you may be reluctant to stand but risk going bust if you hit. The good news is if the dealer has a poor upcard, let’s say a four, five, or six, then you should stand. The dealer will likely have a high second card, meaning he must draw a third card and risk busting.

You see, sometimes weakness is strength. You need to be willing to stand with all manner of poor starting hands if you feel the dealer is weak enough.

Try out blackjack today

There’s no better way to find out about the best and worst blackjack starting hands than by giving the game a try for yourself. If you’re worried about risking your money, you can play for free at BetAmerica Casino. Then, when you’re confident, make a real money deposit and head to the online tables or live dealer blackjack games.

Remember to make use of the first deposit bonus, which will make your money go further.


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