The most common mistake beginners make is to stand too often on their stiff hands (12,13,14,15, and 16). Players are naturally afraid to hit these hands because every one of them could bust (make a total of 22 or more) with a single hit. But when the dealer has a high card (7, 8, 9,10, or ace) showing, your best odds of winning come from hitting and giving yourself a chance of making a better total.
Some beginners think the best way to play blackjack is to play the same way the dealer plays: Hit all sixteens and stand on all seventeens. This is not true. The object of the game is not to make a hand as close to 21 as possible, but to beat the dealer. Often the best way to do this is to stand with a low total, sometimes as low as 12.
Here’s how many players think: If I hit this 14, I risk busting my hand right here and now. But maybe the dealer has a 6 in the hole. If I don’t take a hit, my hand still has a chance. Maybe the dealer’s hand will bust.
Every player is afraid that he will be responsible for his own loss. But that 14 you are holding is already in dire jeopardy when the dealer shows a 10 up. You must fight for the hand’s survival by taking the hit, giving it a chance of becoming a stronger hand against that 10. With a 14 against a 10, you must fight to the death.
On the other hand, if the dealer’s upcard is 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6, and you are holding a stiff hand, you should stand. Since the dealer must hit …