Best and Worst Blackjack Hands and How to Play Them

Blackjack is a card game of skill, judgement and luck. But you can greatly improve your chances of winning at blackjack by mastering a number of strategies.

Don’t worry, we’re not about to tell you about card counting. No, there are quicker and easier ways to get better at playing blackjack without the need for a brain the size of a planet.

Improving your blackjack strategy is a great way to get better at the game and potentially win more money in the online casino. You can play blackjack live here at Unibet, where we have dealers available to run the games on your desktop, smartphone or tablet.

But before you venture onto the tables, it’s worth understanding a bit more about blackjack. You might know how to play blackjack already, but there are techniques to ensuring you don’t simply blow your budget straight away.

This guide will take you through the best and worst blackjack hands available from the deal. By understanding this, you will be able to make better judgement calls on when to hit and stay. It won’t make you a blackjack master overnight, but it will help.


Best blackjack hands

Let’s first take a look at he best blackjack hands you can be dealt with. Remember, sometimes the strength of the dealer’s one card on show can sway your decisions and the odds of winning a hand.


Ace + King, Queen, Jack = Blackjack

You’ve hit blackjack! There is no way the dealer can beat you, so you’ve already won the round. It’s not often you will hit blackjack but when you do it’s a great feeling, as you’ve done no work and earned a win.


Ace + 10 = 21

Because aces are worth 1 or 11, pairing it with a 10 is as near perfect as you can wish for. Only if the dealer has a blackjack themselves can you lose the round.


Cars totalling 17 to 21

It is advisable in blackjack to stay when you get to 18 and above. In some cases you might even stay on 17. Therefore, landing any of these combinations, where you’re 17 and over, is a strong hand. You should likely stay at this point, as the chance of you landing a low card are risky. Meanwhile, the dealer always has the chance to go bust, so staying high is worth it.

Keep an eye on what the dealer is doing. If you have a 20 from your two cards and they have a single 8, their chances of winning are very slim. That’s because they not only need to avoid a high card on their second card, but even if they land an ace their hand doesn’t beat yours. Likewise, if you hit 20 and the dealer’s first card is 7, you’ve a 77% chance of winning.


Pair Aces and 8s

Blackjack dealers will give you the option to split your hand if you land a pair. If it’s a high pair that totals 20 or 18 then you should reject this offer and stay where you are. But, if you have a pair of aces or a pair of 8s, then splitting is a great decision. The best blackjack players will split here in order to free up their cards. When splitting in blackjack, you effectively create a second game next to your current hand. You will have to put down the same bet as you did originally in order to split.

An ace is a great card on the split as it has two values (1 and 11), so you now have two individual hands with aces in them. If you nail a 7-K here, you’re on for a very good score. Likewise, an 8 only requires a 9-A second card to make it a strong hand. Splitting can sometimes earn you a lot of money, but of course there is risk involved.


Worst blackjack hands

Unlike Texas Hold’em poker, where there are some hands you absolutely want to avoid on the deal, blackjack offers the player a chance to redeem their hand strength. This means a starting hand of 5, for example, isn’t necessarily terrible. But there are still some bad hands to receive. Here are the worst ones…


16 v 10 or 9

This is the worst situation a player can be in. They are dealt two cards totalling 16, while the dealer has a 10 showing from their two cards. Statistically the player will lose 53% of the time. This is because the dealer’s next card cannot make them go bust — and all they have to do is beat your 16. So, the dealer is chasing any card from 7 to Ace, which is more than half of the deck. Indeed, when the dealer has a 9 you’re in almost as bad a position, with the dealer chasing 8 to Ace in order to win the hand.


16 v Ace

Similarly, a 16 for the player and an Ace for the dealer is bad news. The dealer effectively has a free shot at going for blackjack and whatever card they land could spell trouble. Remember, often a dealer is required to hold on a 17 or above. Yet you’re in a position where you might need to hit in order to push for a better total. Do you risk hitting on 16? It’s easy to go bust from this position and even if you do get lucky, the dealer may still win the hand if they have good cards.


Blackjack tactics on bad hands

If you do have a bad hand in blackjack then there are two main tactics: hit or hold. Landing a 15 or 16 is tricky because they’re likely not strong enough to beat the dealer unless they go bust. So many players bite the bullet and hit on 15, while others may decide to stay on 16.

Whatever your decision, there is no right or wrong answer here. Blackjack is as much a game of luck and chance as it is skill. You can work out the calculations of your chances of winning a hand based on what could come out of the deck and what cards the dealer has. But it’s still the luck of the draw at the end of the day.

As for hands totalling 13 or 14, blackjack players will always hit here and hope they don’t land anything higher than 21. Statistically this can be around 50/50, and sometimes that is a risk worth taking to transform a bad hand into a winning hand.


Blackjack double down rules

In blackjack you can double down in the middle of your bet. It’s a risky strategy that involves the player doubling their bet and hitting. This can work if you have a low total from your first two cards. Equally, if you have a 9 to 11 total, where you could be on for a high total once you hit on a third card, then doubling down can significantly boost your winnings.

Doubling down is especially important when the dealer has a low first card, between 2 and 6. But make sure the blackjack game you are playing does have the correct rules for doubling down. Some will not offer this option, while others may only let you double down on a certain number of cards.


Play Live blackjack with Unibet

Now you know about the best and worst starting hands in blackjack, it’s time to take that new-found knowledge and test it on our tables. We offer loads of various live blackjack tables in the Unibet's Live Casino in Canada!

You can play with other players and chat to the dealers, who are always attentive and know their stuff. Compete on tables with minimum bets, or simply play on low-stake games.

If you prefer the simulated game version of blackjack, then why not try our tables in the Casino? We provide various versions of blackjack with special offers and bonuses in each game to make them more fun for everyone!

Remember, always set a betting limit when you gamble in the Live Casino and never bet above what you agreed to spend. Newcomers to the Unibet Live Casino are advised to bet low on their first few experiences in order to gain a greater knowledge of how games work. You can always read our Live Casino guides for tips on how to play blackjack, poker, roulette and many more games. And there are information guides available on every game at Unibet - simply click on the ‘i’ button to the side of your chosen game.

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