Eighteen and Lower Is a Cruddy Zone

Studies have been made through the years in casinos all over the world, based on millions of hands, as to what it really takes to win a hand of Blackjack.

The answer makes a lot of sense. The average winning hand in Blackjack is 18 ½. That means one simple thing. Unless you have at least a 19, you’re in a lot of trouble.

Seventeen is a rotten, stinking hand. When I’m dealt a 10/7 for a total of 17, I feel lousy. I know I’ll probably lose and usually do. Eighteen is next to 17 and almost as futile a hand.

In isolated instances you can probably name situations where you ended up with a total of 18 for six straight hands and lost each time. And rightfully so — 18 is a lousy hand.

In fact, you even squirm when you’re dealt a nice fat 19 against the dealers jack. You remember the endless times the dealer ended up with a 20 and just nipped you.

That’s why it’s so important to realize when you’re in a good position and when you’re in a lousy one. Nineteen and up is a comfort zone. Eighteen and lower is a cruddy zone.

Best Move Is to Hit the Soft 18

Glance at the Basic Strategy chart for a second. Go down to a soft 18 (ace/seven) vs the dealers 10. It calls for a hit. The reason it says pkv games hit the soft 18 is because the ace protects you from going over, and because the 18 versus the dealer’s 10 is a lousy position to be in.

It takes a lot of intestinal fortitude to hit that soft eighteen and a lot of players won’t do it. But if they realized how rotten that soft eighteen was, they sure as heck would call for a hit.

Based on Braun’s computations on a neutral deck, it is a “damned if you do — damned if you don’t” situation. If you hit the soft 18 versus the dealers 10, you will lose 57% of the time. If you stand, you lose 59% of the time. Hardly much to choose from.

It’s like being in a burning building and having to decide whether to jump from the 4th floor onto the sidewalk, or do a swan dive from the 9th floor onto a lawn. Same is true here. Best move is to hit the soft 18. Sure it hurts, but it’s the best percentage move, because it lessens your chances of losing that hand.

Since I ain’t no expert on flying, I’ll let you make the other decision on what floor to make your exit.

When the Dealer Has a Power Card, You’re Cooked

One final point. This is an example I give in my classes on Blackjack and Card Counting and it really wakes up a lot of students.

If you go to the casinos and the dealer had a nine as his up card, all day long, you would be demolished (I didn’t even give him a ten or ace).

I’ve shown examples with four decks, six decks, and eight decks, giving the student 18 and the dealer a nine. Over and over the dealer wins, over the long haul.

Point I’m trying to make is this. When the dealer has a power card, all day long, you’re cooked. That’s why we get so aggressive when he is in trouble with the weak cards as his up-card.

Average winning hand is 18 ½. Remember that.