Should I Hit on 16 in Blackjack?

 Should I Hit on 16 in Blackjack?

Many blackjack players have quirks where they deviate from basic strategy. I recently shared a table at one who would not sit at 16 under any circumstances.

That’s a bad play whenever the dealer shows a 7 or higher, but it’s not that rare.

What made this latest player really unusual is that his phobia for hitting 16 extended to soft 16 — hands such as Ace-5 or Ace-3-2 where the Ace is counted as 11.

“At least I’m still in the game,” he said when other players tried to show him the light. “Let the dealer take a chance on busting.”

An older man tried to point out that he couldn’t bust soft 16 with a one-card hit and he can always stand if a hit doesn’t improve the hand. Mr. Stand on Sixteen wasn’t buying it.

How much does all this standing cost? Let’s look at a couple of examples, Ace-5 against a dealer’s 7 and against a dealer’s 10 in a six-deck game in which the dealer hits soft 17.

**Ace-5 vs. 7: If you stand, average losses are 47.4 cents per dollar. Hit, and your soft 16 is nearly a breakeven hand with an average loss of only eight-tenths of a percent. By standing on soft 16, the player at my table turned a nearly neutral hand into a just another awful 16.

**Ace-5 vs. 10: The average loss is 54.0 cents if you stand, and that’s reduced to 21.0 cents if you hit. The gain isn’t as large as when the dealer starts with 7, but cutting loss per dollar wagered from 54 cents to 21 is nothing to sneeze at.

The pattern holds when the dealer has 8, 9 or Ace, too. Your average losses are lower when you hit rather than stand.

Patterns are different when the dealer shows 2 through 6. Then those with soft 16 will want hit vs. 2 and 3 and double down vs. 4, 5 or 6.

Don’t hit the wall at 16, like the player at my table did. He had it wrong all session long.

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