Blackjack Strategy: Hard 13-16

Well, it has been a long road so far, but I’m almost done detailing strategy for hard hands in blackjack. Earlier today I covered strategy for a hard 12, which is the first hand you will encounter where you might want to stand. Likewise, with a hard 13, 14, 15 or 16, it is sometimes the best strategy to stand pat and hope to beat the dealer with your current hand.

It should be noted that a hard 13-16 is a stiff hand, which are the worst hands in blackjack. The reason is that the odds are stacked against you no matter what. If you take a hit, you have a good chance of busting, which would cause you to lose. If you stand, you have a good chance of being outdrawn by the dealer, which would cause you to lose.

Stiff hands are the ultimate “damned if you don’t, damned if you do” situation. Anytime you have a stiff hand, you are likely to lose. Following the below strategy does not help you have frequent success in these situations. Instead, it reduces how often you lose, which, in the long run can mean a lot.

If you have a hard 13-16, you should stand if the dealer has an upcard of 2-6. If the dealer shows any other card, you should take a hit. You should never double down, because your odds are bad no matter what.

As I mentioned, in this scenario you have a bad hand that is likely to bust if you draw another card. However, if the dealer shows a 2-6, he also is likely to have a stiff hand (because of the likelihood of having a 10 in the hole). Therefore, in this situation the best strategy is to stand pat and hope the dealer goes bust. If he does, then you win no matter what your hand is (as long as you don’t also bust).

If the dealer has a 7 or better, though, the dealer has reduced odds of busting. In addition, assuming a 10 in the hole, the dealer would have cards that are higher than yours. For that reason, your best chance at winning is to try to improve your hand. Take a hit and hope you don’t draw a card that causes you to bust.

If you follow the above strategy, you will lose a lot. However, you will lose less often than if you use some other strategy. Unfortunately, when you have a stiff hand the odds are stacked against you. So when you have one, follow this strategy, cross your fingers, and hope you have a better hand next time.

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