Contrary to what many people think, the goal of blackjack isn’t to get to a hand of 21. It’s not even to get as close as possible to 21. The goal is to beat the dealer. That is certainly more likely if you have a hand of 20 or 21, but you can also win with a hand of 5, if the dealer busts.
For that reason, there is perhaps no statistic more important in blackjack than the odds of busting. If the dealer is likely to bust, you want to stand no matter what cards you have. If you are likely to bust, you usually want to stand, unless doing so gives you higher odds of being outdrawn by the dealer.
Blackjack basic strategy takes into account a lot of odds, including your likelihood of busting with a certain hand, the dealer’s odds of busting, what the dealer’s hole card is likely to be and more. As you probably assumed, the higher your card, the more likely you are to bust if you hit it (unless it’s a soft hand, in which case you can’t bust). With that in mind, look at this chart of the odds of busting when hitting a certain hand:
|Hand Value||% Of Busting If Hit|
|11 or Less||0%|
That’s fine for telling the likelihood of you busting your own hand, but you don’t know what the dealer has. Because one of his cards is a hole card, you can’t be certain what hand he has. Basic strategy takes that into account and plays the odds of what card he has in the hole. In addition, blackjack statistics can tell you the chances of the dealer busting when hitting a certain up card:
|Dealer Up Card||% Of Dealer Bust|
|J, Q, K||21.42%|
If you’re not a mathematician, instead of checking these odds to see if they’re right, I advise simply memorizing them, or at least remembering the pattern. You’ll notice that the odds of the dealer increase from 2-5 as the up card but then the odds go down again. That is because with a card higher than a five showing, the dealer has increased odds of already having a hand of 17 or more, in which case the dealer would stand instead of drawing another card.