When Does the Dealer Have to Hit in Blackjack?

The object of Blackjack is to beat the dealer’s hand and score as high as possible without going over 21 (busting). Unfortunately, some players get so obsessed with winning that they fail to realize that a loss or bust by the dealer is just as good in most cases as a player win.

Here is a brief explanation of how to beat the dealer in Blackjack, and standard rules for when the dealer hits or stands.

Female Blackjack dealer asking player if they want to hit or stand

The Basic Rules of Blackjack

If a player draws a hand value higher than a dealer’s hand, the player wins. You can also beat the dealer if the dealer’s hand exceeds 21 – otherwise known as a bust. One final way that you can beat the dealer is by having your first two cards equal twenty-one (commonly referred to as a Blackjack) when the dealer’s cards do not.

When does the dealer have to hit?

The general rules of Blackjack are for the dealer to hit until he reaches 17 or above, regardless of the players’ hand. Blackjack dealers have to follow a strict algorithm that varies from casino to casino. They have no options when it comes to whether they should hit or stay.

The house rules can vary a bit when it comes to a soft 17.

What is a soft 17?

In Blackjack, a soft total of 17 is a hand that includes an Ace, which has a value of 1 or 11, and a combination of other cards that add up to 17 when combined with the Ace.

See the image below for some examples of a soft 17 in Blackjack:

Four examples of a soft 17 in Blackjack

When Does the Dealer Have to Hit a Soft 17?

The rules of blackjack in most casinos is that a dealer must hit on a hand totaling 16 or lower, or a soft 17. In these situations, the player has the advantage.

When Does the Dealer Have to Stand in Blackjack?

The dealer must stand on hands with a hard total of 17 or higher.