There is a play in blackjack which often seems to generate a lot of discussion. Is hitting a 12 against a 2 in blackjack a good decision? The answer often depends upon the deck and whether it favors the blackjack dealer or the player. The way you determine that is through card counting.
A case can be made either way. If you are not a card counter, the prevailing theory would advise standing in this situation. Some say that there are times when the card counter can hit or even double in this situation for a better chance to win. The choice will often depend upon your own skills at the game of blackjack and how comfortable you are with strategy.
What Makes 12 a Tough Blackjack Hand?
Do you hit 12 against a 2 in blackjack? The answer would be much easier if it weren’t for the dynamics of the hand itself. 12 is a tough blackjack hand to play in many situations because it offers a better chance of improvement than a 15 or a 16. At the same time it is a hand that can be busted often because of the number of ten-value cards in the deck.
When you hit or double a hard 12, any ten that appears will end your hand and cause you to lose your bet. Yes, it is true that a ten is the only card in the deck that will bust a hard 12. But there are 4 ten-value cards for every suit. Compare that with just one five or one six per suit. There are 16 tens in every blackjack deck, while there are just 4 of every other card.
Without getting deep into math here and getting ourselves into trouble with the mathematicians, we acknowledge that there are still 36 other cards that are not valued at ten. So, your chances of drawing another card instead of a ten are greater in a game of single-deck blackjack. The complexity here comes in games which use up to six decks in a shoe. At almost any moment in that game there can be more tens in play than any other card.
On the other side of the fence, 12 is a bad total for the player. There are many totals that the dealer can have to beat you. 17, 18, 19, 20, 21. Sure, hitting seems like a great idea until that realization creeps up in your head that just one ten can still bust a 12.
How Do You Decide How to Play a 12 Against a 2 in Blackjack?
Until now we haven’t given much discussion to the role the dealer plays here. Our topic revolves around playing a 12 against a 2, not against all the other cards in the deck. This makes the decision making process even more difficult for lots of players.
A 2 is not a card you want to see in the dealer’s hand. It is a card that can serve you up plenty of trouble. It offers the dealer too many ways to slither out of an otherwise deadly situation. This is mainly for the opposite reason that a 12 can be difficult for the player. If there are a lot of lower cards remaining in the deck, the dealer has many chances to draw out instead of bust.
With this in mind, we say again that card counting is going to be the best factor when it comes to deciding how to play this hand. You need to know if the deck is ten rich or ten poor before you act. If you do not have the basic skills to count cards, you will need to rely on basic blackjack strategy alone.
With only basic blackjack strategy at your disposal, the options are going to be fewer. Here’s a look at the different ways you can respond and determine, do you hit a 12 against a 2 in blackjack.
12 Vs. 2 in Blackjack – The Options
When playing blackjack, pretty much all of the standard options are on the table when you find yourself in this situation.
Surrender is still an option in some live and online casinos. If it is, think about using it in this situation. This is especially true if you are not a card counter. There is no shame in living to fight another hand.
Standing is advised when you are not counting cards and wish to play conservatively. It is the safest play to make in this situation, but it is not the most profitable in the long run.
Hitting is the play preferred by the novice card counter and non-counter that is willing to take a little more risk. In this situation it is probably advised to hit until you reach a total of 17 or higher. It would be pointless otherwise.
Doubling is best reserved for the skilled card counter that wants to maximize the chance for profit. If you are in this category, good for you.
What About 6-6 Versus the Dealer’s 2?
There are a few ways to make a hard 12 in blackjack. The one that you don’t want to see is the dreaded 6-6. This hand introduces an entire new decision problem in the form of the split. You can split these 6s if you like to make two new hands.
We really should not even have to include a section here to say that splitting 6s should not be done. You are risking getting a ten on each 6 for the worst possible starting hand in blackjack. Double trouble. And yet, some people still do this regularly.
In most cases it is players with very little blackjack experience. They perhaps are using intuition to inform their play. That is a poor way to approach winning at blackjack. You should surrender, stand, hit, or double as mentioned above.
A Final Word About Doubling Down a Hard 12
If you happen to be a card counter and are willing to use the double down option on a hard 12 against a 2 in blackjack, be warned. This type of play can sometimes mark you as an advantage player or card counter. The casino will probably single you out and observe your play closely. You may even notice in some casinos that the dealer is required to loudly announce that a player has doubled on hard 12 in order to get the pit boss’ attention. Use the play with caution.