When To Stand Playing Blackjack: A Bodog Strategy
Sometimes, the best thing to do is nothing at all. Of all the moves you need to master, knowing when to stand playing blackjack is one of the most important. This is when you decide the cards you have in your hand are all the cards you need.
Standing is also the easiest blackjack move to figure out. You can (and should eventually) learn when to stand as part of a larger online blackjack strategy. We have tons of articles here at Bodog that will show you how to do just that. But in the meantime, here are some quick rules of thumb to help you at the tables.
The most obvious times to stand when playing blackjack are when you’ve been dealt a monster hand. As a general rule, any starting hand worth 19 points or more is good enough to stand with. The odds of improving your hand without going bust are too small to bother drawing another card.
Your decision to stand gets slightly more complicated when you’ve been dealt a 17 or 18. These are still powerful hands in blackjack; you’ll want to stand for the most part, but there are some situations where a different play will be called for, as we’ll show you in a moment.
Dealer has Potential to Bust
If you haven’t been dealt one of those monster hands, the next thing to watch out for is the dealer’s up-card. If that card happens to be Six or lower (not including the Ace), you’ve got the dealer in a sticky situation; there’s a good chance they will go bust once they reveal their third card.
Think about it like this: The dealer’s down-card will often be worth 10 points, so combined with their low up-card, they’ll have 12-16 points in this scenario – which means they are forced to hit, and they’re at risk of going bust. Even if their down-card is as low as a Six, the dealer can bust if their up-card is also a Six; there is no “doubling down” option for the dealer.
With that in mind, if you’ve been dealt at least a 12, and the dealer is showing any card Deuce through Six, you should almost always stand. There will be a few special instances where a different play is recommended depending on which blackjack variant you’re playing at Bodog, but you can learn about that when you’re working on your “basic” (i.e. optimal) blackjack strategy.
Odds of Dealer Busting
To help you understand the dealer’s risk of going bust, here’s a chart that shows you the odds for each of their possible up-card values:
Up-Card Value / Odds Of Going Bust
2 / 35.30%
3 / 37.56%
4 / 40.28%
5 / 42.89%
6 / 42.08%
7 / 25.99%
8 / 23.86%
9 / 23.34%
10 / 21.43%
Ace (1 or 11) / 11.65%
As you can see, the dealer has the greatest risk of busting when they’re showing one of those low up-cards we mentioned, with Five the riskiest of them all. This is why it makes sense to stand with 12 in these situations. Even though your odds of going bust by drawing are less than theirs at 31%, when you do the math and compare the risk and reward, it’s just not worth taking that chance.
Here’s where things start to get tricky when you’ve been dealt a 17 or 18. The strategy for when to stand and when to continue changes depending on whether your hand is “soft,” meaning it contains an 11-point Ace. For example, Soft 17 means you’ve got an Ace and a Six.
Having that Ace in your hand means you don’t have to worry about going bust when you draw a third card. For the most part, instead of standing with your 17 or 18, you now have the odds to double down when the dealer has a low up-card, or simply hit if they have a high up-card.
Soft hands will also change your standing strategy when you have anywhere between 13 and 16 points (There is no Soft 12; that would be a pair of Aces, which you should always split). Instead of standing when you have Soft 13-15, you should now hit almost all the time, and if you have Soft 16, you should make the same moves you would with Soft 17-18.
Speaking of splitting Aces, it’s good to know ahead of time which pairs you’ll stand with in blackjack rather than go for the split. The dealer’s up-card will once again come into play. If you have a pair of Nines, you will split those when the dealer has a low up-card, and stand with your 18 points when their up-card is high.
You will also stand all the time when you’re dealt a pair of 10-value cards. You already have 20 points in your hand, so there’s little room for improvement by splitting and hoping you draw an Ace or two. In fact, if you try to split Tens, Jacks, Queens or Kings at a live casino, you’re basically telling the casino that you’ve been counting cards, and you think the deck is “rich” enough in Aces to make it worth splitting.
All the remaining pairs will see you either split or hit, depending again on the dealer’s up-card. For example, if you have a pair of Sevens, that’s a split when the dealer has a low up-card; otherwise, you’ll have 14 points with the dealer showing a high up-card, and that scenario calls for a hit.
Again, the basic blackjack strategy will call for different plays in a few marginal situations, depending on which variant you’re playing – especially when the “surrender” rule comes into play. But if you follow these simple guidelines for when to stand, you should see instant improvement the next time you play Blackjack at Bodog Casino.
Our advice is always to approach the table, at Bodog Casino or in person, knowing your strategy of when to stand playing blackjack.