Posts Tagged ‘chance of busting’

Don’t be afraid to bust

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

There are a lot of mistakes that new blackjack players make pretty regularly. It’s okay; that’s going to happen to people who are new to any game and it’s part of the reason this blog exists. The biggest mistake that new players make is not sticking to blackjack basic strategy, though they do that for various reasons. One reason is that they think they have a better strategy. Another reason is if they just don’t remember it but are playing anyway without a strategy card. One of the most common reasons, though, is out of timidity.

New players are often intimidated by the thought of busting and play a bad strategy because of it. It is a problem that some blackjack players call “bustophobia.” Here’s an example of how the problem manifests itself:

You have a hard 16 and the dealer has a 7 as his up card. You know that you have a stiff hand and have a good chance of busting if you hit, so you stand, afraid of going over 21.

That is the wrong strategy. In that case, the odds and basic strategy say that you have the best chance of winning the hand if you hit. It’s true that you have a good chance of busting, but if you stand, you have a better chance of being outdrawn by the dealer. Now, if the dealer had a 2-6 as an up card, standing is the right call, because he might also have a  stiff hand.

Against a dealer 7, though, the odds say to draw. That is because with your hand, you have a 5 in 13 chance of improving your hand by drawing an ace, 2, 3, 4 or 5. Those odds sound bad, but consider this. The dealer has a 7 as an up card, that means he has a 4 in 13 chance of already having your hand beat, a 1 in 13 chance of having the same hand, and a 1 in 13 chance of having a soft hand.

Blackjack basic strategy isn’t some arbitrary thing that some dude thought up one day and has never been tested. It has been tested repeatedly and statistically proven to give you the best odds of winning. Even when it looks like the move it recommends is too risky, you should trust the math and stick with basic strategy. Don’t be afraid to bust; it will happen sometimes anyway and it’s not that scary!

Blackjack Odds: Bust Percentage

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

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
21 100%
20 92%
19 85%
18 77%
17 69%
16 62%
15 58%
14 56%
13 39%
12 31%
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
2 35.30%
3 37.56%
4 40.28%
5 42.89%
6 42.28%
7 25.99%
8 23.86%
9 23.34%
J, Q, K 21.42%
Ace 11.65%

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.

Blackjack Odds: Chance of Busting

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

If you are new to the game of blackjack, whether you prefer to play at online casinos or the brick and mortar variety, you have likely studied the basic strategy charts. You may have even studied the reasons behind each of the player decisions, as I have covered in various series in this blog.

Player decisions are based on the likelihood of your hand beating the dealer’s hand. One thing that plays heavily into that strategy is the odds of busting, both for the dealer and for the player. Anytime you have a certain hand, there are a number of cards that can help you and a number that will not. Depending on the hand, some cards may cause you to bust. Therefore, being a good blackjack players means knowing how likely you and the dealer are to bust. Here is a short guide to help you with that.

Players and dealers can only bust if they have a hand of a hard 12 or more. If you have a 12, there is a 31% chance of busting if you take a hit. Hitting a hand of 13 gives you 39% odds of busting. A full chart is listed below. You may notice that as your hand total gets higher, so do your odds of busting. That is because as your hand gets higher, you are getting closer to 21, so that means more cards would put you over that limit. Remember that the dealer will always draw to a 17:

Hand value — % of busting
21 – 100%
20 – 92%
19 – 85%
18 – 77%
17 – 69%
16 – 62%
15 – 58%
14 – 56%
13 – 39%
12 – 31%

In the next blog I will show the dealer’s likelihood of busting based on his up card as well as the player’s odds when that card is shown.