What are the Best & Worst Blackjack Hands ?

What are the Best & Worst Blackjack Hands ?

Published Date · Nov. 5, 2021 · Last Updated · Nov. 7, 2023 ·Read Time · 4 mins

The hand is the cards you have at any time in the game, and the starting hand are the ones you’re dealt at the beginning. Judging the strength of a hand is key in blackjack and is the basis for all strategies. Everything starts by assessing the starting hand in blackjack. From there, you can work your way towards blackjack winning hands which maximise your chances of taking the table. To help you get up to speed, we’re going to take a look at the basics. You’ll see how to play hard and soft hands, the hands to avoid, and the hands you want.

Why do you need to know the different types of hands?

Knowing how strong your hand is will influence how you play the game. The stronger it is, the more likely you are to stick and increase your bets. But don’t be too bold; otherwise, the rest of the table will know you’re probably holding the best hand in blackjack.


How to play Soft Blackjack Hands

If you have an ace in your hand, you are said to have a soft hand. This is because you pick your ace to be worth 1 or 11 and change during the game. If you’re blessed with more than one ace, you can set them to different values at any time during the round. 

The beauty of a soft hand is that you have the choice to drop your 11 to a 1 at any point. This gives you more options and more choice when you’re homing in on 21. The key is to make multiple hits from the deck, preferably gathering up small value cards. There is, however, one exception: if you’re dealt Ace-Jack.

How to play Hard Blackjack Hands

A hard hand is a hand with no aces or one in which the ace is set at 1. The problem here is that you don’t have the flexibility of a soft hand and are therefore more likely to be stuck on the worst scores. In addition, you don’t have the freedom to change your 11 to a 1, which means a more conservative approach is often the way to go.

Blackjack winning hands from hard positions are less common but still possible if you know what you’re doing. The key is to realise that as you go above 16, your chances of winning drop closer and closer to single digits if you keep hitting the deck. 

Standing when you get to 17 is a wise move that will keep funds in your corner so you can play another day. It may be tempting to try and run the table, but the chances of it happening fall off dramatically with a hard hand in blackjack.


What’s the Worst Hand in Blackjack?

A hard 16 is the worst hand in blackjack. Without the freedom to switch an 11 ace to a 1 when a new card is dealt, you’re stuck with odds of 3:1 against that the next hit will bust you. You’re also 5 away from the total of 21 everyone else is aiming for, which isn’t good news. The house edge is clearly in effect here and is hard to get out of for even the most experienced players.

What’s the best hand in Blackjack?

As the name of the game suggests, the best hand is a blackjack, and a black ace, as your starting hand. This is the strongest hand in the game and cannot be beaten. Betting cleverly will allow you to raise the stakes without giving away your strategy for future hands. 

Other strong hands include any other forms of 21, as well as a hard 20. This is where you have two picture cards dealt as your starting hand. Virtually every player will stick here as the chances of getting an ace are slim compared to going bust. 

One key point to remember when assessing your hand is that holding blackjack is not unique. There are 6-8 decks in play, which means more than one player can handle it. In the event of evenly matched hands, the game is declared a tie, and any money bet stays in the pot. 

You may also get the option to split into a pair of hands which you can then play independently. For example, the best hands to split in blackjack are a pair of 8s or a pair of aces. Aces, in particular, will give you a lot of flexibility if you switch between hard and soft hands as part of your strategy.

How many hands should you play in Blackjack?

Playing two hands simultaneously allows you to spread the risk of losing by splitting your put 50:50. Players looking to get ahead of a 1% house edge will typically play 50 rounds or more, with basic strategy giving them a 42% chance of profiting if executed correctly. Of course, these figures vary based on your ability to use more advanced strategies to capitalise on the strength of your starting hands.


Knowing the strength of any given hand is crucial. Making a quick assessment will allow you to decide which strategy you want to employ. You will also know whether you want to split so you can close down the house edge

Now that you know the best and worst hands in the game, why not try them out at a top casino for blackjack?


Matthew Wojciow

Content Writer