Sep

10

2015

Stop Getting Burned At Blackjack

Some of the most frustrating hands at blackjack come when the dealer starts stringing out low cards. You see the dealer with a 14, and think there’s a good chance he’ll bust. Then comes a 2, and with 16, he just HAS to bust, right? Then, boom! Here’s comes a 5, the dealer has 21 and the whole table loses.

After getting burned on one of those hands, a reader emailed me to ask just how many cards the dealer could string out and wind up with a standing hand.

The total depends on whether the dealer hits or stands on soft 17, and how many decks are in play. The most common games today are six decks, with the dealer hitting soft 17. That means there are 24 Aces available, so it’s possible, though not likely, for the dealer to string out as many as 13 cards.

To do it, the first seven cards would have to be Aces, taking the dealer to soft 17. The next card can’t be an Ace, 2, 3 or 4, because that would give the dealer a standing hand of 18, 19, 20 or 21, and it can’t be a 10 value, because that would turn soft 17 into hard 17, also a standing hand.

To maximize the number of cards, the eighth card would have to be a 5, taking the total to 12. Four more Aces, for a total of 12 cards, would give the dealer hard 16. The 13th card could be an Ace, 2, 3, 4 or 5, for final dealer hands ranging from 17 to 21.

If the dealer stands on all 17s, you can’t start with seven Aces, because that’s a standing total of soft 17. Instead, the maximum-card standing hand would start with six Aces, followed by a 6 to get to 12, four more Aces to get to 16, then an Ace, 2, 3, 4 or 5 for the final standing total of 17-21. That’s 12 cards, one fewer than the max on a hit-soft-17 game.