16 vs 10 a Blackjack Hand Not Even a Mother Could Love

Happy Mothers Day!  I went a long way to come up with a headline that had some Mother theme in it – for some reason Mothers Day and blackjack aren’t all that closely related.

Anyway, back on topic – when you have a 16 (or 15 for that matter), the dealer is showing a 9, 10 or Ace and the casino doesn’t offer surrender you’re in a Mother of a situation.  If surrender is offered take it – I’ll write a future post about the virtues of blackjack surrender.  In most cases outside of the bigger casinos on the Las Vegas Strip surrender isn’t an option, so what should you do?

You are sitting there staring at 16 knowing your choices are not great (and only slightly better on 15)  – if you hit you bust 62% of the time – if you stay your odds of getting a 3, 4, or 5 – the cards that give you a chance of getting to a ‘winning’ hand are about 23%.

On the flip side, the odds that the dealer already has you beat with a 7, 8, 9 or 10 to go with their solid up card is around 62% – even though I know it feels like the dealer gets a 20 90% of the time in this situation.

So what do you do?  I’m not a card counter so I can’t give you an in-depth explanation of what count would be favorable to hit and which is best to stay statistically.  My best analysis is based more on feel than on math.  In general I’m inclined to hit a 15 almost every time, the only real deviation is if table momentum is poor and my bet is large.  On the 16 I’m generally in a coin flip situation based on table momentum, my bet size and gut feel – I haven’t tracked this closely, but I’d estimate I play almost even 50/50 hit/stay in this situation.

I know this isn’t scientific and is by no means going to help you break the bank every time,  but I think ‘go with your gut’ is probably what Mom would say if she knew you were facing long odds and had a tough choice to make.


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