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Blackjack : Sweet Sixteen - Not favored by blackjack players

By Daniel Michaels

Level: Apr 17th 2007
Every blackjack player dislikes hitting 16 when the dealer's faced up card is a nine, 10, or an ace, because the chances of winning are very slim. But still there are some ways you can use this hand to make a profit:
  • Hit: You hit another card and just hope that you won't bust. If you don't bust right away, you can hope once again that the dealer will bust or have less points than you.


  • Stand: You can only wait and hope that the dealer will bust.

  • Surrender: You can surrender your 16 against the dealer's cards, in casinos which allow this. You will lose the entire bet if the dealer has blackjack, otherwise you will lose only half of your bet.


  • Split: You can split your hand if the 16 is compounded from two eight’s. If you choose to split you will have to play both hands separately, and each eight will represent the first card of a hand.





dealer up-card stand on 16 hit 16 surrender 16 split eights
NINE $5.43 $5.09 $5.00 $4.20
TEN $5.76 $5.75 $5.38 $5.37
ACE $7.69 $6.66 $6.54 $5.80


In the above table are presented the expected losses when the player has a 16 and the dealer has a 9, 10, or ace, with each of the four playing options.

You can see that the player is not in advantage in the following situations, because the expected losses would have to be $0, to be fair. Only if the gains would have been over $6, one could say he is advantaged.

For this table it is considered that the game has been played with multiple decks. The values for the split eights are moderate and they ignore several situations like: doubling down if a two or three is drawn to a split eight.

The table proves that splitting eight in this situation is the best solution, even if the blackjack basic strategies disagree. Surrender is another profitable option when the 16 is not formed from two 8's. Surrender is better than hitting against a 9, 10 or an Ace, even if the most experienced players consider hitting the better option.

Then hitting would be the next best choice, if splitting or surrendering can't be performed. Once again many experienced players choose to stand instead of hitting.

One thing is for certain, many players make the wrong decision when it comes to playing this hand, they hit when they should surrender, or they surrender when they should split and so on.
RELATED GAME STRATEGIES
Lesson 1: Blackjack History
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