Blackjack is a dynamic game. It is a game shifting percentages, where each card that is played either adds too or, takes away from the initial advantage the casino has over the player. It is also the most mathematical orientated game offered by gaming companies, but it's also a great experience for online players. Sites such as www.onlineblackjack.com have great promotional offers that can give the player a boost at his bankroll to start with and you can also find their casino reviews and decide which online casino is the best for you. 

Back to the point: Every two-card starting hand has a value associated with it. This means there is a quantitative mathematical percent of the bet that an initial starting hand has. This is determined by evaluating every combination of cards that can occur while applying optimal basic strategy, as determined by Professor Ed Thorp as well as adhering to the rules of the game being offered. The evaluation is done by computer simulation because the combinations are excessive. Rules play an important role in determining the optimal basic strategy or more to the point what the appropriate action for the hand is, e.g. whether a player should hit, stand, double down or split. Here I will discuss what the best 3 starting hands in Blackjack as well as the worst 3 starting Hands in Blackjack, and more importantly why the hands are classified as either good or bad. These 6 hands can be applied to brick and mortar casinos as well as online casinos.

THE BEST STARTING HANDS IN BLACKJACK

BLACKJACK VS. ANY NON 10 OR ACE CARD

The best hand in Blackjack is intuitive; it is when the player has a Blackjack (21), it consists of an Ace and a 10 value card (e.g. a Ten, Jack, Queen or King) for the player against any dealer non 10 or Ace up facing card. The mathematical value of the hand is 150% of the players bet in a traditional 3:2 payoff Blackjack game. This means that for every 100 dollars that is wagered when a player has a Blackjack, the player will win $150; as long as the dealer doesn’t have a 10 or Ace up card the player has no chance of pushing (when a tie occurs) the dealer.

THE HARD 20 VS. 8

The Hard 20 consists of two 10 value cards. It is a very strong hand in Blackjack. It is most valuable against a dealer’s 8 up card. The player wins 79.18 % of their bet when they have a hard 20 against the dealers 8 up card. For every hundred dollars wagered when the player has a 20 against the dealers 8 up card, the player will win an average $79.18. The only hand that can beat a 20 is a dealer total of 21. In some cases, the dealer will draw to this total through any number of combinations such as six as the hole card for a total of 14 and then draw a 7 for a total of 21. The combinations that result in a dealer 21 are several, but the computer simulations dictate that the percent of the bet that the dealer wins when all these combinations are accounted for is 79.18%.

THE HARD 20 VS. 7

The hard 20 against a 7 has a mathematical value of %77.32. For every hundred dollars wagered when the player has a 20 against the dealers 7 up card, the player will win an average $77.32. The 7 up card is important card because the rules of the game dictate that the dealer must stand on a total of 17. And because there are more 10 value cards in the deck than any other value card there is a high probability that the dealer will have a 10 value card as their hole card. There is a finite probability that the dealer will draw to either a 20 or 21 total in those cases the dealer would push or beat the player respectively.

THE WORST STARTING HANDS IN BLACKJACK

THE 16 VS. 10 

A player total of 16 vs. the dealers 10 up card is the worst possible starting hand a player can have. This total yields a negative expectation of 0.5398%.  This means that for every $100 wagered in the situation where the player has a total of 16 against the dealers 10 up card the player will lose $53.98, over the long term.  As the number of times, this situation increases the average loss will get closer and closer to $53.98.  A player will occasionally draw a 5 or a lower value card and stand pat, and the dealer will have a weak card in the hole and bust out; thus accounting for wins. But when all outcomes are considered the average loss to the player is 0.5398% of their bet.

THE 16 VS. ACE

A player total of 16 vs. the dealer Ace card is the second worse starting hand a player can have.  This total against this dealer’s up card yields a negative expectation to the player of 0.5171%.  From the same derivation as above the player loses $51.71 for every $100 wagered in this scenario.  A 16 total for the player gives the fewest possible cards for the player to make a hand, while an Ace gives the highest number of cards for the dealer to make a hand.

THE 16 VS. 19

A player total of 16 vs. the dealers 9 up card is the third worse starting hand a player can have.  This total against the dealer’s up card yields a negative expectation to the player of 0.5093%.  From the same derivation as before the player loses $50.93 for every $100 wagered in this scenario.  A 16 total against the dealers 9 up card only gives a few cards for the player to make a hand.  A nine is a strong card for the dealer and, because the preponderance of cards in the shoe are 10 value cards, there is a high chance that the dealer will have a standing total of 19. 

SUMMARY

Each Blackjack starting hand regardless of its land-based or online blackjack has an inherent mathematical value associated with it. Here we have discussed the best and worst possible starting hands for the player to have. Ideally, a player would best be served when betting a lot in cases where they are winning a high percentage of their bet and a minimum amount when they are losing a high percentage of the bet. Card counting is a way to determine when these situations will occur.

About the Author
By

Nicholas is a 17 year veteran of the casino gaming industry. He is former player manager with the infamous MIT Blackjack teams and is a regular attendee of the Blackjack Ball, a gathering of the world’s top professional gamblers.

He is the Managing Director of the Alea Consulting Group, a leading gaming consultant company with a focus on gaming economics and, is a frequent contributor to world class business publications like Forbes and Entrepreneur magazines’ and over 15 gaming trade publications. He is also the founder of Casino Exploits a player centric casino gaming site.

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