Which hands are the most profitable in Blackjack? Which hands will give players the best odds to make money? Before we answer that, let us first determine the various starting hands there are in a game.
Considering the picture cards alone and the 10s, there are 33 possible starting hands. They may be grouped as pairs, soft hands or hard hands. The pairs are two cards of the same value, such as 2-2; 3-3; 4-4; 6-6; 7-7; 8-8; 9-9; 10-10; and A-A. The soft hands are those with an ace such as A-2 up to A-10. Hard hands have totals of 9 such as 4-5, 3-6 or 2-7, and any other combinations of numbers from 1-19. A pair of 5’s is not considered starting hands as 5’s are never split but instead are played as hard 10.
The following hands are considered the most profitable when strategically playing Blackjack. They are ranked from first to tenth places.
• 11 (7-4 or 8-3)
• 10 (3-7 or 4-6)
A Blackjack hand is, of course, the most advantageous and profitable hand because when a player is dealt this hand, he is paid 1.5 times his initial bet if the dealer does not have a Blackjack hand. The odds are usually 6/5, but there are some casinos that offer odds at 3/2. Note though that a player can expect to hold a Blackjack hand at least once in every 21 hands.
Why is A-9 (20) ranked higher than 10-10 (20), and A-18 (19) ranked above 10-9 (19)? The soft hand combinations containing the Aces definitely decreases the dealer’s chance of having a Blackjack (and beating the player) since one less Ace is available from the deck. This makes the soft hands more profitable than the hard hands of the same value.
It is never wise to split a pair of 10’s, and double down on an A-9 hand because they are both profitable. The list of profitable hands shows that an 11 is more profitable than an A-A. Let’s discuss why.
Splitting an A-A hand is not mandatory as a player can play a soft 12 if he continues the hand. Most card players will settle on continuing on soft 12 if they have counted that there is just a few 10s left in the deck.
The usual play if handed an A-A is to split the pair and consider each pair as 11 because a player can only have one hit for each of his Aces after a split. If a player received 10 for each A for two hands of 21, these are not viewed as Blackjacks for payment is only 1/1.
If a player is in a position to hit an 11, then he gains the favor 60% of the hand, depending on circumstances such as the dealer’s face card. If a dealer’s face card is 10, the favor drops to 54%. It increases to 67% if the dealer’s hand is a 6.
A split mandates a player to double his initial bet. If this initial bet for his A-A hand is $10, he would have to bet another $10 after the split as he now has two hands.
Statistic indicates that both hands are won 30% of the time, and lost both at 13%. Breaking even in one win and a loss is at 42%. Draws comprise the remaining percentage. When dealt with an A-A, the average winning is at 16% the initial bet.
When a player is dealt an 11, he faces the decision of doubling down or not. If he doubles down, the player doubles his initial bet and takes one extra hit. If the initial bet is $10 on the 11 hand, doubling it makes his bet $20 on one 11 hand.
The odds of winning an 11 hand is the same as in hitting an 11 when splitting an A-A – 67% if a dealer’s upcard is six, and 54% if the dealer’s upcard is 10. Playing the 11 hand initially dealt with and one more hit should the player requests, would increase his percentage of winning to 56% when the dealer’s upcard is a 10.
The player should decide if he wants to win 54% of the time with $20 on the table, or win 56% of the time with $10 on the table. The two options are both winning options. Statistics indicate that a 17.6% profit of a player’s initial bet on a dealt hand of 11 can be expected.
A dealt 11 hand is more profitable than a dealt A-A hand. With a dealt 11 hand, there is a greater percentage of a 54-56% profit that could increase to 67%. This return could be matched with a split A-A if the player wins the two hands. It is true that a player’s chances of losing his full stake when doubling down on 11, but the potential for an ROI is more likely as winning when holding an 11 is more probable than losing.