Pat Hand

Pat Hand in blackjack refers to a hand that totals 17 points or more, which is considered a strong hand that does not typically require any additional cards. The term suggests that the player is satisfied or “pat” with the hand as dealt and is unlikely to benefit from taking further action, such as hitting.

  1. Decision-Making with a Pat Hand: When a player has a pat hand, the standard strategy is usually to stand, regardless of what the dealer’s upcard is. This is because adding more cards to a pat hand carries a high risk of busting (exceeding a total of 21), especially since any card above 4 will cause the player to go bust.
  2. Risk of Busting: The risk of busting with a pat hand is significant. For instance, with a hand totaling 17, there are only four card values (Ace, 2, 3, 4) that won’t make the player bust if drawn. This risk informs the standard strategy of standing on a pat hand.
  3. Dealer’s Play with a Pat Hand: In most blackjack games, the dealer must stand on all pat hands, particularly on a “soft 17” (a hand including an Ace valued as 11, adding up to 17). This rule is a key part of blackjack strategy and affects the house edge.
  4. Types of Pat Hands: A pat hand can be either “hard” or “soft.” A hard pat hand does not contain an Ace counted as 11 (e.g., 10-7, 9-8), while a soft pat hand does (e.g., Ace-6). Soft pat hands offer more flexibility, as the Ace can be counted as 1 or 11, reducing the risk of busting if the player decides to hit.
  5. Strategic Implications: While the general rule is to stand on a pat hand, there are strategic nuances. For example, players might consider hitting on a soft 17 depending on the dealer’s upcard, as the flexibility of the Ace reduces the risk of busting and offers a chance to improve the hand.
  6. Psychological Aspect: Receiving a pat hand can provide a sense of security to the player, as it’s a strong position to be in. However, the decision to stand or hit on certain pat hands (like a soft 17) can be a source of strategic tension.
  7. Impact on Game Flow: Pat hands significantly influence the flow of a blackjack game. They often lead to quicker decisions by players, as the choice to stand is straightforward in most cases.