Not all hands in blackjack are created equally. Some are better than others. When you are dealt those first two cards, sometimes it makes you smile and sometimes it makes you cringe. If you are dealt an 11 with your first two cards, though, you may feel like doing a celebratory dance, because you have a sweet hand. For the record, I am not advocating doing a celebratory dance. First of all, it’s rude to the other players. Second of all, you never want o celebrate too soon.
Anyway, having a hand of 11 is so good that you are usually going to want to double down when you have that hand. In fact, if the dealer shows any card other than an ace (two-10), you should double down. That is because your chances of beating the dealer are very good when you start with an 11.
So why is a hand of 11 so good? Blackjack basic strategy takes into account that there are more cards with a value of 10 (4/13) than any other value. That means you have a higher probability of drawing a 10 than a card with any other value. Likewise, the dealer is more likely to have a 10 in the hole than any other value card.
Taking that into account, if you already have 11, that means by taking a hit you are likely to receive a hand of 21, which is the only hand in blackjack that the dealer can’t beat (he can only tie, which is a push). Now if you take into account that the dealer is likely to have a 10 in the hole, that means if the dealer has any cards between two and 10, he is likely to have a 12-20. A hand of 20 is good, but not compared to a 21, which the dealer would only have if he has an ace in the hole with a 10 as an up card. For that reason, you should double your bet and hope that in the one extra card that you can be dealt you receive a 10.
If the dealer shows an ace, though, you should not double. An ace is the most powerful card in blackjack because it can be used as an 11 or a one, depending on whether or not it would cause you to bust. Also, it can be used to make a natural blackjack (ace, 10). If the dealer shows an ace, the odds are no longer on your side, because the dealer can beat you with a 21. Even if the dealer doesn’t have a blackjack, though, you are at a disadvantage because of the dealer’s soft hand, meaning he can’t bust.
Therefore, if you have a hand of 11, you should hit if the dealer shows an ace. If the dealer has anything else, double down and hope you draw a 10. You should never stand with a hand of 11 because there is no risk of busting.