Many new blackjack players ask why the dealer always hits on 16. Why don’t they stand if the player has a lower hand?
To answer this, we need to re-examine the rules of blackjack and also look at the reasons behind those rules, and what it would mean if the dealer was allowed to pick and choose when to hit and stand.
In this quick guide, we’ll explore why dealers hit on 16 in blackjack, and whether or not it benefits the player or the house.
What are the rules regarding blackjack dealers hitting on 16
The blackjack dealer is required to hit on 16 or below and stand on 17 or above.
This rule does not change in any of the main blackjack variations. The only difference is that in some versions, the dealer must hit soft 17 rather than stand.
But the fact that the blackjack dealer hits on 16 is always the same.
Why can’t the dealer stand if they have a higher score?
As I mentioned in my article about the blackjack rules for the dealer, blackjack dealers do not get to make strategic decisions at any point in the game.
They always follow a strict set of instructions, and therefore they must always do the same thing in any scenario.
This is one of the reasons why playing online blackjack became so popular even in the early days of the internet, and continues to be such a widely played game on mobile apps.
It’s easy to program the dealer actions in blackjack because they don’t require any decision-making.
There is no need for any AI or strategic thinking, so the role of the dealer was easily replicated even by early computers.
Does this rule benefit the player or the house?
The fact that the dealer is forced to hit on 16 is generally beneficial to the player.
Bear in mind that hard 16 is the worst hand you can get in blackjack because it has the highest probability of going bust (over 21) when you take another card.
This doesn’t mean they’ll bust every time though, so don’t go thinking it’s a guaranteed win. However, there are only 5 cards that can save the dealer in this position, and 8 that will send them bust.
Depending on what cards have been dealt already, in general, you’ll have a better than 50% chance of winning the hand when the dealer has a 16.
Also bear in mind that the player takes his/her turn first, before the dealer’s face-down card is revealed, meaning all decisions are taken based on the dealer’s face-up card.
So, if the dealer was allowed to stand on 16, or take any strategic decisions at all, they would have a huge advantage over the player and it would destroy the game’s RTP to an extent that nobody would want to play.
Last Updated on September 15, 2022