Blackjack Strategy: What To Do When You Have a 14, 15 or 16 Card Hand

Last modified: August 7, 2019

One of the most well-known strategies in blackjack is to hit on a soft 17. It is because the dealer will have a minimum hand score of 17. However, what do you do when you get 14, 15 or 16 cards? You could easily bust by drawing a card higher than 5. Is it worth the risk to Hit when your score is so high? Or should you stand and hope the dealer has busted?

This article will look at managing blackjack hands and deciding on the best blackjack strategy in each case. Generally, you make a decision based on the card the dealer shows and whether you have a hard hand or a soft hand.

Blackjack 14-Hand Start – What to do?

With a starting blackjack 14-hand, the first thing you should do is check the dealer’s revealed card. Your options will depend on this card. If the dealer has a card from 2 to 6 revealed, you should hit. It is because the dealer will most likely end up with a hand total of around 17-18 or so. You have a fair chance to beat the dealer by getting a 19-20.

On the other hand, if the dealer shows a card with a value greater than 6, you should assume that they have also a total of around 14-16. In this case, the dealer is forced to take another card. It could lead to the dealer busting very quickly, giving you the win.

Blackjack 15-Hand Start – What to do?

A Blackjack 15-hand should follow similar rules than for a 14-hand. If the dealer shows a card less than 6, you should Hit. If it is more than 6, Stand. Keep in mind that your risk of busting if hitting is higher than if you have a 14-hand total. With a hand totalling 14, the chance you’ll bust if hitting is at 46%. On the other hand, with a hand total of 15, the chance of busting increases to 54%.

One thing to consider is whether your blackjack hand are soft or hard. If you have a hard 15, you have a high chance of busting. With a soft 15 as your starting hand, there is no risk and should, therefore, hit.

Blackjack 16-Hand Start – What to do?

17-hand are very well known. Indeed, there is a famous basic blackjack strategy that revolves around soft/hard 17s. But what if your starting hand has a score of 16?  Since the dealer’s minimum score is 17, you are guaranteed to lose. However, making a hit is extremely risky too, as there is a 62% chance of busting.

However, there’s no blackjack strategy you can use to get out of this problem. Just like blackjack 14-hand or 15-hand, look at the dealer’s visible card. If it is less than 7, you should hit and hope the additional card you get will not bust you. According to basic strategy, the dealer is as likely to bust as you are at this point so it’s a level-field.

Alternatives to playing with Risky Hands

Some people find it is too risky to play with these blackjack hands. Most online casinos or physical casinos will offer some lifelines for them, such as Surrenders. In Blackjack, if you surrender, you lose only half your money. Many players will surrender with a blackjack 16 -hand or even 15-hand, since it takes a lot of confidence to decide between hitting or standing.

If the card shown by the dealer is an ace, don’t take the insurance bet and instead go for the hit. It’s likely the dealer will not bust, so your only chance of winning is getting a higher value.

Conclusion

Blackjack is a complex game. Many players consider it to be one of the simplest yet hardest card games. Fortunately, unlike games such as video poker, in Blackjack you only have to beat the dealer. So, it is easier to learn blackjack strategy and the game. Keeping the 14, 15 and 16 card rules in mind will win you a lot of money in the long run.

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