What to do with 16

What to do with 16

by Sammy Chang © 2018 Great Bridge Links

Being a former casino dealer, I have seen my fair shares of crazy hands, but most people ask me about technique in the world’s oldest game: blackjack. The most common question I get is: should I hit on a 16 or should I stay?

First rule – always hit on soft 16 (an ace with a 5)

Having dealt on both sides of the border I’ll give you my thoughts on blackjack north of the 49th parallel, in a small country called Canada. Through a specific set of examples I will try to demonstrate the exact thing you should – or better yet shouldn’t – do with a 16. Once we go through it, I would encourage you to practice your own technique online with free play blackjack games over at BlackjackGala and I promise you’ll be quick to realize that my strategy makes perfect sense.

So let’s get on with it, shall we?

In Canada, each player is dealt two hole cards and the dealer is dealt a single card to start the action. We can talk about what to do when it comes to specific cards that the dealer may be showing but we’re going to dive into the action of the player holding hard 16 – cause we know what to when it’s a soft 16 right?

As a player, I usually like to sit in the anchor position (last spot on the table) because of two reasons. To this day, I still love the sound of the cards hitting the felt and watching an experienced dealer expertly deal blackjack, there’s a certain crispness when the cards are dealt correctly. Secondly, I love watching what cards have exited the deck to make a determination on whether I should hit or stay but once again doesn’t matter when it comes to 16 for me.


Well, short answer. I never hit on 16.

Whoa? Why not? Don’t you want to give yourself an opportunity to win?

Precisely! I do want to give myself an opportunity to win.

As the dealer has only one card, he/she is forced to draw cards. For a player to win on 16, they would have to draw a card 5 or lower to avoid busting and losing their hand immediately.

In cases like this where you’re drawing for a low card my thoughts would be to allow the dealers the opportunity to draw the low card themselves to complete the hand. If the card after the 5 is anything higher than a 6, the dealer would immediately lose and all hands in played would be paid out.

Well, if I drew the 5, I would have 21 so I would have won.

Correct! But you would leave the other players in danger of losing their own hands.

If you drew the 5 and the dealer then drew an 8 afterwards for their own hand, the dealer would have 18 and any hand lower than 18 would lose immediately. In my scenario, the dealer would have had 15 first and then busted by pulling an 8.

Playing blackjack is developing a technique and holding firm to it and that’s the first rule you’ll find written in all blackjack books. By announcing to the table that you’ll never hit on 16 regardless, they can compete within their own comfort level and you can rest assured that you never deviated from your technique.

Sure, there’s going to be some near misses and some what if’s but if you hold true to this technique, you’ll end up being more consistent with your gameplay.