Every blackjack player has at least six opinions on the game, which makes sense because you have one opinion of the game when you’re up and another very different one when you’re down - and many for all the stages in between. If you chat with other players about their best plays and what rules they follow, you’ll have a mind full of myths, stories, and pure fiction. Occasionally, you’ll pull out a jewel of good blackjack advice, but mostly you’ll hear “woulda, coulda, shoulda” laments.
The object is to reach 21 without exceeding it
The object of the game of blackjack is to beat the dealer, not to get close to 21. People often forget that and think since they have 16 or 17, if they hit, they will likely bust, so they shy away and think that they’ve reached their goal of getting close to 21. But the dealer doesn’t have to get close to 21. He/She/It just has to beat the player. On the other hand, people often lose a hand because they hit when they should stand.
You can only beat the dealer by having a higher total than the dealer or by not busting when the dealer busts. You absolutely must stick to basic strategy for the blackjack game that you are playing when it feels like you are “close enough” to 21. Strategy will tell you whether you should hit or stand. I know the feeling of anxiety we all feel when we hit that block of “stand” on the strategy card. The casino knows about it too, and hopes you can’t resist hitting.
We speak, of course, of standing on low hands like 12s (against a dealer’s 4, 5, 6) and on 13 and 14 against a dealer’s 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6. Twelve and 13 just look so low! Gosh, it’s just so tempting to hit. Standing is for losers, isn’t it? Be bold! Ask for another card! The dealer’s waiting, or the Hit button sits glowing on your computer screen. No, the sensible move is to stand. Hitting will only benefi t the dealer. Don’t give them any advantage just because you’d rather bust with 22 than win with a mere 12.