Most Commonly Misplayed Hands in Blackjack

Playing These Hands Correctly Will Reduce the House Edge in Blackjack Games

While blackjack has a large element of chance, skill is a major factor. A skilled player using perfect strategy can reduce the house edge to a minimum. Even the best players in the game find some hands and situations trickier than others. Below you will find a list of some of the most frequent misplayed blackjack hands – along with notes that help you understand the better play.

Player 12 against a Dealer Showing 3

In general, you’ll want to be standing with pretty much anything when the dealer shows a low card, but this case is a notable exception. There are two reasons for this. While you are giving yourself a shot at busting by hitting here, the odds are still well in your favor. There are only 16 cards in the deck with a value of 10. Looking at the dealer’s 3, this is not as bad a card for the dealer as you might think, as the chances of the dealer busting is much lower in comparison to other low cards. If you hit in this situation instead of standing, you’ll make more money in the long run.

Hard 16 against a Dealer 10

This is one of those situations that every blackjack player hates and whichever way you look at it, the result is not likely to be a good one. But ensuring you play it right will save you money over the long run. The first thing to ask yourself is ‘does the casino offer the surrender option?’ if it does, then you should certainly be taking it – a 50% loss here is better than the 53.5% loss you’ll expect if you played the hand out. If there is no surrender option, then it’s a close one, but hitting just edges it. Close your eyes and hope for that 5!

Soft 18 against 9, 10 or ace

Many people consider that you should always stand when you have hit 18, but this is not the case with a soft 18. While 18 is a solid hand, it’s not actually that good and if you were dealt 18 on every hand you’d be a loser over thousands of hands. If you do stand in this situation, you’ll win 8 times out of 20, while hitting increases these odds to winning 9 times out of 20. So always hit in this situation.

Insurance Against Dealer Blackjack

Insurance is almost always a bad bet. Many players consider this bet as a way to protect their hand, but it is simply a side bet where basic math tells you that the odds are in the dealer’s favor. You are getting odds of 2:1 on the bet, where the actual odds should be a little higher at 9:4. If you made this bet every time, your bankroll would certainly suffer. Occasionally, a card counter might take the insurance bet if he knows that there are a higher proportion of 10 value cards left in the shoe than there should be, but this is a very rare situation.

A Pair of 9’s against a Dealer 9

Once again, you’re in a situation where you have 18 and your instinct tells you to stand. However, splitting is the way to go here, as you’ll have a much greater win rate by doing this. You’ll win 40% of the time by standing, but this rises to 47.5% of the time by standing – a massive increase in the win rate.

11 against Dealer 10

Something you’ll hear on a regular basis on the blackjack table is ‘never double when the dealer has a 10’. If you hit on your 11 you’ll win 56% of the time, while doubling reduces the winning percentage to 54%. Some might immediately think that hitting has the edge here, but look a bit closer. What is better? Winning $5 56% of the time, or winning $10 54% of the time. It’s clear that the double is the way to go!

16 against a 7

Most blackjack players know, through gritted teeth, that hitting is the way to go with 16 against a dealer 8, 9 or 10. However when faced with a 7, many players will stand – this is a mistake. The reason to hit in this situation is that if you do improve by hitting a 2,3 or 4 for example, you’re now in very good shape against the 17, while standing will see many situations where the dealer wins.

Misplayed Hands – Wrapping Up

All the situations above would be considered marginal, but blackjack is a game of small margins. If you make these plays right, the house edge will be a very small one, giving you much more opportunity of landing that winning session. Any good blackjack strategy chart will tell you exactly what to do in these situations and it won’t be long before playing these hands the right way becomes second nature.

If you are playing blackjack online, make sure that the casino bonus terms include blackjack at a generous ‘weighting’ – this will give you better returns while you learn to handle the tricky spots covered above.