Understanding The Math Behind Blackjack Strategy

Using basic strategy should be a must for anyone playing blackjack. This gives you the best chance for a small house edge and it’s fairly easy to learn and remember. However, the numbers and correct gameplay just don’t click with everyone. Not everyone puts learning perfect blackjack strategy first.

Believe it or not, the are people who visit casinos for a fun time that may not always involve walking away as a winner. That’s okay, we’re here to help. There are useful blackjack games online and blackjack apps for mobile devices that can help improve your game. Additionally, we offer useful tips on different ways to play the best blackjack you can.

Another way to help you understand how basic strategy works is to look at some of the underlying probability. For example, the odds of a player receiving blackjack are 4.8%. That’s almost five natural blackjacks for every 100 hands played. Meanwhile, a player will be dealt cards totaling between 1 and 16 38.7% of the time. This means that you’ll have to make a decision on whether to stay or hit on approximately 39 of 100 hands dealt.

Likewise, 30% of the hands dealt to a player will be a stay hand of 17-20. That’s right, on 30% of the total hands dealt, you won’t have to make a decision if you’re playing correct basic strategy. Think about this if blackjack seems intimidating. You won’t have to make a move on approximately three of every 10 hands you see.

One of the easier ways to understand why you should hit or stay on certain hands is to learn the dealer and player bust rates. Here is a look at how often the dealer will bust based on their up card:

  • 2 – 35.3%
  • 3 – 37.4%
  • 4 – 39.6%
  • 5 – 41.9%
  • 6 – 42.3%
  • 7 – 26.2%
  • 8 – 24.3%
  • 9 – 23%
  • 10 – 21.3%
  • Ace – 11.6%

You may hear players say that the dealer has a “bust card” when playing blackjack in a casino. Those are the cards that you can see where the dealer has the greatest chance of busting. According to the probability above, the dealer will bust more than 42% of the time they have a 6 showing. This means that the dealer will bust 42 out of every 100 times they have a 6 showing. That’s just little more than 4 out of every 10 times it’s showing. A dealer will bust when they have a 6 showing than any other card.

If you’ve played blackjack often then you know that the higher the total of the first two cards you receive the more likely you are to bust. Here is the probability of busting on if you hit on hands that you’re dealt with the totals below:

  • 20 – 92%
  • 19 – 85%
  • 18 – 77%
  • 17 – 69%
  • 16 – 62%
  • 15 – 58%
  • 14 – 56%
  • 13 – 39%
  • 12 – 31%

It’s impossible to bust on the next card if you’re dealt 11 or lower. The next highest card you receive would be a 10 so you can reach 21 but not higher on that individual play. The probability of busting when dealt a 20 if you hit it 92%. You’ll rarely see anyone hit when they receive a 20.

There’s a reason that basic strategy exists for blackjack and the math supports it. Understanding the probable outcome before even playing certain hands will go a long way in making you a better blackjack player. Even if you’re just playing blackjack to hang out with friends, knowing basic strategy will allow your bankroll to last longer. In turn, your good times in the casino will last longer.