Playing Hard 16 In Blackjack

Blackjack is an American banking game. In this game, each player deals with 2 cards. In the U.S the dealer is also dealt with two cards, normally one is showed and one is hidden. In most other countries, the dealer receives one card which faces up. Aces can be worth one or eleven. One hand in this game has a value equal to the sum of the card values. In case the players do not have a perfect hand then they are allowed to draw additional cards. A hand with an ace valued as 11 is called “soft”, meaning that the hand will not bust by taking an additional card; the value of the ace will become one to prevent the hand from exceeding 21. Otherwise, the hand is “hard”. This hard hand is the worst and last thing that any blackjack player might want

Playing Hard 16 In Blackjack

  • Hard 16:

Hard 16 is the hand in which the player does not have any ace card if he does have then Ace counts as one. Some examples of a hard 16 would be 10-6 or 5-7-4 or 7-8-Ace.

Strategies to play hard 16:

  • In a single- and double-deck game, the player should surrender against a dealer who has 10 or Ace up-card, stand against a dealer’s 2 through 6 up-card, and hit against a dealer’s 7, 8, or 9 up-card.
  • In a multi-deck game, surrender against a dealer’s 9, 10, or Ace up-card, stand against a dealer through 6 up-card and hit against a dealer’s 7 or 8 up-card.
  • If the surrender option is not allowed, then hit your hard 16 instead. If you hit you win on average 30% of the time and lose 70%. If you stand you will on average win 26% and lose 74%.

This will not guarantee the win every time but the chances of losing decreases substantially. When the player follows the basic strategy he will definitely lose more hands than how much he will win but in the long run, the player will lose less. Losing less on hands where you are the underdog is just as important as winning more when you are the favourite.


This is a more advanced playing strategy and it is quite accurate. This strategy considers the composition of cards that make up the 16. For example let’s consider, if the player’s 16 consists of three or even more cards say 5 plus 6 plus 5 then it is played differently as compared to when it is comprised of, a 10 plus 6. The strategy works like this,

  • If the players hard 16 is comprised of three or more cards, in all cases, the player shall follow the above strategy for hard 16 but there is an exception to this of stand on 16 against a dealer’s 10 up-card.
  • In a single-deck game with s17, hit a 9 plus 7 against a dealer’s Ace up-card instead of surrendering to the hard 16.
  • Reason for the hard 16 strategy:

Casinos allow the players to surrender but that means you lose the opportunity to play your hand and lose your bet. Hence instead of surrendering playing the hard 16 hands is a quite better option. Even when the player is offered to surrender, most of them don’t like “giving up” without a fight. So the player surrendering is rarely seen in any casino.

That will even be unfortunate because surrendering a hard 16 when the dealer shows a 9, 10, or Ace will save you more money in the long run than hitting. In fact, surrender is always the best option when your chance of winning a hand is less than 25%. Take the hand of hard 16 against a 10. If we hit our chance of winning is 23.4%. This means the dealer’s chance of beating us is 76.6%. If we played a hundred hard 16’s against the dealer 10 with those probabilities, we would end up winning about $23 and losing $77 for a net loss of $54 on average. By surrendering on every hand our net loss would be $50. You are better off losing $50 then $54 which is why surrendering a hard 16 against a 10 is the better play because you will save $4. This was for surrendering being the best option.

But the reason you stand on hard 16 when the dealer’s up-card is small is that the dealer’s chances of busting are relatively high almost 35-42%. In this situation, you don’t want to risk busting your hard 16 hand by drawing another card because you automatically lose even if the black-jack dealer subsequently busts in the same round.

Blog Summary

Blog Name: Playing Hard 16 In Blackjack

Posted On: 28/03/2019

Author: Jennifer Albee