Posts Tagged ‘dealer bust odds’

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 strategy: Not a 12! Noooooo!

Monday, September 27th, 2010

There’s a reason I titled today’s blog Not a 12! Noooooo! First of all, I think it’s a catchy title that should get your attention. If you’re reading this, then it worked (Also, feel free to comment so I know you’re reading). Secondly, a lot of blackjack players freak out when they are dealt a 12 and make the wrong decision. Blackjack basic strategy says to stand against a dealer 4, 5 or 6 and hit against anything else, but a lot of players don’t want to do that.

It’s understandable why. Players are trained to take into account the high ratio of cards with a value of 10. Well, 12 plus 10 equals 22, which busts you. Players then see that they have a 12, imagine a good probability of losing if they hit and decide to stand. The truth is, if you hit a hand of 12, you will probably lose. However, if you stand you will also probably lose, and the odds are a little bit worse. A hard 12 is a bad hand and no matter what you do, the odds are against you, but basic strategy takes all of that into account.

When you have a hand of 12, your decision is based on your odds of busting versus the dealer’s odds of busting. If you hit a hard 12, there are 4 out of 13 cards that can bust you, meaning you have a 31% chance of busting on that hit. That means a 69% chance of surviving hitting the hand. That’s not so scary, is it?

When the dealer has a 4, 5 or 6, his odds of busting are 39.4%, 41.6% and 42.3%, respectively. Those percentages are taking into account the dealer’s odds for having each specific card in the hole and, after assuming the odds for each hand, the odds each hand have of busting. Those are all higher than your chance of busting, so you want to stand against those hands.

The most common mistake that the player makes is standing with a 12 against a dealer 2. The thinking is that the dealer has a 12 and therefore has a good chance of busting. However, he only has a 31% chance of busting with a 12 and likewise, only a 31% of having a 12 in the first place. He could have a hand anywhere from 4 to a soft 13. Taking all of that into account, when the dealer has a 2 as the up card, he has a 35% chance of busting. With those odds, that means you have a 65% chance of losing if you stand on a hard 12, since the dealer will hit up until a 17 or better. Compare that with your 31% chance of busting and it is better to take a hit and hope you improve your hand.

Have all of those statistics confused you? If so, it’s okay. People a lot smarter than me (and probably you) when it comes to math and statistics have tested blackjack basic strategy and determined the odds for everything. If you stick to basic strategy, you should be okay.

Blackjack strategy: playing the dealer

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

Today I read a blackjack “tip” from a supposed gambling expert. That expert said that you should “aim to get closer to 21, not to beat the dealer.” I was shocked, since this is exactly the opposite of what I advise.

In the game of blackjack, the goal is not to get as close as you can to 21, though that is sometimes what people say. The goal is to beat the dealer. Whether you beat the dealer with a hand of 20 or a hand of 4, you get the same reward. Sure, most of the time you want to get close to 21 because the dealer is going to hit until he gets to 17 or better. However, people who follow a strategy of trying to get close to 21 often play too aggressively and hit when they should stand.

Playing to get closer to 21 ignores the chance of the dealer busting. If the dealer busts, you win with any hand, as long as you don’t bust as well. For example, if you have a hand of 12, that’s not very close to 21. Therefore, people following a “get as close to 21 as possible” strategy would take a hit regardless of the dealer’s hand. However, if the dealer has a hand of 4, 5 or 6, blackjack basic strategy says to stand.

You would stand on those hands because the dealer is likely to have a stiff hand, which is a hand between 12 and 16. With those hands, the person is likely to bust if taking a hit. Since you also have a stiff hand, taking a hit is risky. In this case, it’s best to stand and hope that the dealer busts. How likely is he to bust? Let’s break them down.

If the dealer has a hand of 14, there are five cards (3, 4, 5, 6, 7) he can draw that would beat your hand. The dealer can draw two cards (ace, 2) that would leave him with another stiff hand. There are six cards (8, 9, 10, J, Q, K) that would bust his hand. Therefore, if the dealer has a 14, there is a 8/13 chance that the card he draws will be bad for him and good for you.

Now let’s look at if the dealer has a hand of 16. Here your odds are even worse. There are only five cards (ace, 2, 3, 4, 5) that will help his hand and the other eight cards (6, 7, 8, 9, 10, J, Q, K) will bust him. Combine that with the fact that, with a 12, you have a stiff hand, you can see that the odds are best to stand and hope the dealer busts.

For that reason, you should ignore any advise that says you should get as close to 21 as possible. While that is part of the strategy, it is secondary to beating the dealer. Often, getting as close to 21 as you can gives you the best chance of beating the dealer, but that is not always the case.

As always, this strategy works in online casinos as well as in the brick and mortar variety.