As a blackjack player, it’s the big question: when it’s your turn to play, do you hit or stand?
If you’re new to online, mobile, or casino blackjack, maybe you’re unsure about what these terms mean, what the implications are, and what is the right move to make.
In this tutorial, I’ll give you all the answers you need.
You’ll learn what the blackjack stand and hit signals are, what they mean, and – most importantly – how to decide what to do, when you should do it, and why.
What Does Hit or Stand Mean?
In blackjack, the player has to make a decision on their next move after receiving their first two cards. The main options are to either hit or stand (you may also have the option to split or double down, these are covered in separate tutorials).
But what does this mean?
Hitting means taking another card from the dealer. This is done in hopes of improving the hand and gaining a more competitive total.
Standing means keeping the hand as is and not taking any more cards. This is done when the player feels that their hand is strong enough to beat the dealer or when the dealer is showing a weak card, and the player wants to stay in the game in the hope that the dealer will go bust.
Blackjack Rules on Hit or Stand
First, bear in mind that there is a difference between rules and strategy. In other words, just because you’re allowed to do something, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea!
The rules of Blackjack state that as a player, you can hit or stand on any total you like. The only exception is if you are dealt a blackjack (10 – Ace) in which case there is no action to take and you are paid out instantly.
Other than that, you have the option to stand or hit any total between 2 and 20. However, you would rarely see any player stand with a total of 11 or less (there’s no point, since taking another card cannot make you go bust).
Likewise, you are unlikely to see any player hit a total of 17 or above (unless it’s a soft total) because you already have a decent hand, and taking another card is more likely to send you bust than it is to improve the total.
The dealer does not get to decide what to do. They have no choice. The dealer must always hit on totals of 16 or below, and must always stand on totals of 17 or above.
The only exceptions are when the dealer has a soft 17. Some blackjack versions require the dealer to hit soft 17 and others require them to stand. But whatever version you are playing, the rules for the dealer will be clearly stated, and always followed.
How do You Know When to Hit or Stand in Blackjack?
The decision of whether to hit or stand is always based on two factors: the total value of the player’s hand, and the dealer’s up card.
For precise instructions on when to hit and stand, on any combination of cards, you should consult the blackjack basic strategy charts.
The charts will reveal the specific move for any possible set or circumstances. For the purposes of this guide, I will give you a basic overview.
When to Stand
The most important time to stand is when the player has a hand that is valued at 17 or more points. This is because the chances of going over 21 are very high, and the player will almost certainly lose if they hit.
The exception to this is soft hands. Because these contain an Ace which can be valued as 1 or 11, it is safe (and sometimes desirable) to take another card because there is no risk of going bust.
Another time to stand is when the dealer’s up card is a 2-6. This is because the dealer is more likely to bust with these cards, and the player has a better chance of winning.
When to Hit
The most important time to hit is when the player has a hand that is valued at 11 or less. When you have a low total, you can safely take another card without any risk of going bust, so you have a good chance to improve your hand total.
Another time to hit is when the dealer’s up card is a 7 or higher. This is because the dealer is more likely to make a hand of 17 or more with these cards, and you therefore have a higher probability of losing if you stand. Therefore, it makes sense to take another card even if it runs the risk of going bust.
The Logic Behind Blackjack Stand Strategy
The logic behind the blackjack stand strategy is based upon comparing your hand to the dealers up card.
You first look at your own hand and decide whether you already have a strong total. If so, you will stand.
If not, decide whether it is safe to hit without going bust. If it is, then you should do it. If there is a risk of going bust, you then look at the dealers up card.
On the loose assumption that the dealer’s hidden card is a 10, an up card of between 2 and 6 puts the dealer in a weak position because they will be forced to hit and therefore run a significant risk of going bust.
These principles cover most eventualities at the blackjack table. So until you can commit the basic strategy tables to memory, if you just remember this logic then you will make the right decision about whether to hit or stand in blackjack most of the time.
Hit or Stand Hand Signals
In blackjack casino rules, the player will signal to the dealer whether they want to hit or stand by using hand signals.
To signal that you want to hit, tap the table with your finger.
To signal that you want to stand, hold your hand palm-down over the table.
Hand signals are used to prevent misunderstandings or ambiguity, and should always be used where possible.
Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
One of the most common mistakes made by blackjack players is to only consider their own total when deciding whether to hit or stand. This can lead to mistakes that reduce the player’s RTP and can also irritate other players at the table.
To avoid this mistake, always remember to base your decision on two factors: the total value of your hand, and the dealers up card.
If you can do this, you will be well on your way to becoming a successful blackjack player!
Ready to try it for yourself? Check out the best apps for mobile blackjack which you can download and play right now.
Last Updated on October 1, 2022