If you are new to the game of blackjack and are coming off some extended play then you may have heard certain hands referred to as “Charlie” hands and could be left wondering just what these hands are. There are many terms associated with the game of blackjack that are alien to those not in the know, some of these relate to the game itself, some have been created by card counters to get their message across to other card counters, and some are used by the casino to refer to bets, side bets and bonuses. In the case of Charlie hands this is a casino term that can be a huge advantage to the player.
Firstly it’s worth noting that not all casinos or card rooms will consider such a hand as viable, but if you can find one that does then they will probably advertise the fact to get you to the table (as they can be a big pull for all players) in which case then you should take them up on their offer.
In it’s simplest form, a Charlie hand is a hand that gives you a win regardless of what the dealer does shows. This doesn’t refer to blackjack, which is also known as a “Natural”, but rather to a 5 or more card hand. So if you manage to draw 5 cards without going bust then you have a five card Charlie and in those casinos that allow such a rule this will give you an automatic win, often with a bonus. That bonus increases depending on how many cards you have, with casinos paying out for 5, 6 and 7+ cards.
Getting so many cards and not going bust is a rare occurrence, and obviously as the cards increase then it becomes even rarer. Despite this, it is mathematically possible for a player to get a 10 card hand, although this incredibly rare and even casinos that pay out for such hands will likely only pay out the same for a ten card hand as they would for a 7 card hand.
Changing Strategy to Accommodate Charlie Hands
Although you should try to play these games when you see them, you need to apply different blackjack strategy as the game changes slightly to account for these hand possibilities. For instance, if you are holding 13 and you have four cards in your hand, and the dealer has between 2 and 6, basic strategy says that you should stand as the odds are that you will bust, whilst the odds for the dealer to bust are also favourable, but if you’re playing a game that allows for Charlie hands then you should hit. The bonus you get for having a Charlie hand is enough to make up for the unfavourable odds that you would typically get for hitting in this situation.
There are other occasions when you should go against basic strategy in order to increase your chances of getting a Charlie hand. Generally, anytime you are holding four cards and a total less than 15 you should hit, regardless of what the dealer is showing. If the dealer is showing a ten or an ace and you are holding 16 then you should also hit. It goes without saying that if you are holding 17+ then you should always stand, as the chances of hitting a 4 or less and not going bust do not make up for the added incentive of getting a Charlie hand.