When to Hit or Stand in a Blackjack ─ Tips & Rules for Beginners

Blackjack is a popular and often exciting game to play. It’s easy to learn, but experienced players know there are numerous strategies and rules that can help increase the odds of achieving a win. Judging when to hit or stand in Blackjack is one of the most important skills a player can possess and this article will examine some basic tips and rules which any new player can use when playing a hand.

What is the Dealer’s Hand?

One of the most important features of the game of blackjack is determining the dealer’s potential hand, as MrCasinova shows. In all forms of the game, it’s important to consider what the dealer can do when making your decision.

If you know or can estimate what card is likely to be dealt next, this will allow you to decide whether to stay in or fold your bet. This is part of strategic decision-making and having a good knowledge and understanding of this element can help you win more often.

When to Hit or Stand


One of the most important lessons for a beginning blackjack player to learn is when to hit and when to stand. Understanding when to hit or stand can significantly improve a player’s overall success at the game. Here are some key tips and rules for amateurs who are just getting started with blackjack:

  • Hit on any number up to 11. The idea is that if your current hand, combined with the dealer’s up-card, totals 9 or less, you should take another card in order to try and get closer to 21.
  • Stand on any number equal to or greater than 12. If your current hand totals 12 or more, it is generally considered best practice to stay put. Your chances of busting become much more likely as you add another card.
  • Stay on soft hands (Ace + one card valued at 10) when the dealer shows a 6 or lower as their up-card (the first visible card dealt in blackjack). If you have an Ace plus a 10-valued card, this could count as an instant win against many lower dealer hands and should always be stood on unless there is strong evidence that the dealer has a higher likelihood of busting than winning due to his up-card—in which case it could be worth hitting one more time in order to maximize your chances of winning from the situation.
  • Double down if your current hand equals exactly 11 and the dealer has 8 or less as his up-card (again this will likely maximize your chances of success).
  • Split if you are dealt two cards with identical values (e.g pair of 7s), but always avoid splitting 10s or 5s—as these will increase your chances of going bust from either 17 or 15 respectively – both referring numbers where it is better off standing rather than taking yet another risk by hitting again.

Splitting Pairs


When you are dealt two cards of identical value, they can be split into two separate hands. Generally, this will win happen when you receive a pair of 8s or aces. The basic strategy for splitting pairs is to separate aces and 8s and to avoid splitting the rest. You will turn your two individual cards into two separate hands, each receiving one additional card from the dealer.

Typically, when playing at home blackjack is simply played with a single deck of 52 cards which can simplify decision-making; however, when playing in most bricks and mortar casinos multiple decks are shuffled together which means that what may have once been an easy decision could become dizzyingly difficult depending how favorable or unfavorable certain results may be as different combinations become hidden and hard to predict due to there being too many combinations of cards within multiple decks.

Doubling Down

Doubling down is a strategic move used in blackjack that can significantly increase your winnings – if done correctly. The basic rules for doubling down involve making an additional wager equal to your original bet, then receiving one more card to improve the hand before standing. Depending on the house rules, you may be able to double down after splitting a pair or on any number of cards.

When it comes to deciding when to double down, blackjack experts recommend using basic strategy rather than relying strictly on luck. There are specific situations when the odds favor doubling down hands. For example, when your initial two-card hard total is 11 – meaning an Ace and a 10 or face card combination – expert opinion is that you should always double down regardless of what the dealer’s upcard is showing.

Insurance Bet


The insurance bet is a side bet made with the belief that the dealer’s hidden card is an Ace. It is a special type of bet often seen in Blackjack games that requires you to make an additional wager equal to half your original bet in order to protect yourself against the dealer having blackjack. If the dealer does indeed have a blackjack, then your wager pays out at 2:1 odds, meaning if you put $10 on it and win, you’ll get back double what you put in for a total of $20.

However, it’s important to bear in mind that insurance bets come with an inherently high house edge and are generally not recommended. While there are no concrete rules as to when insurance bets should be taken, it is generally advisable to only do so if your hand count has reached 17 points or higher and when the dealer shows an ace as their face-up card. Similarly, if your hand consists of star cards (Ace or Ten-valued cards) consider taking the insurance bet unless you are sure that you can beat a potential blackjack from the dealer by hitting one more card.


In summary, the basics of when to hit or stand in blackjack depend on a combination of your cards, the card the dealer has showing, and what you think they may have in the hole. When players understand basic blackjack strategy, they are able to make better decisions when at the table.

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