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Hence, you need to understand the concept of hard and soft hands to maximize your blackjack sessions.
The purpose of this article is to explain what hard hands and soft hands are, and how they affect the basic strategy.
The Meaning of Hard and Soft Hands
The phrase soft and hard hands basically refers to the hand composition.
A soft hand is a hand that contains an ace. This type of hand is considered more player-favorable due to its flexibility. Namely, when you’re holding an Ace, you can adjust your hand total, depending on the situation. It can count as one or ten, depending on what favors your total more.
When you have a soft hand, you can’t go bust when hitting because you can change the value of the ace at any time. So, even if you draw a ten-card, you can’t bust with a one-card hit when you receive the third card. For instance:
- Let’s say you’re dealt with an ace and an 8.
- The value of your hand would be 19 or 9, depending on which total is more favorable to you.
- If your third card is a nine, the ace in your hand will count as one so the total of your 3-card hand would be 18.
Conversely, hard hands are initial hands that lack an ace. Therefore, they provide less liquidity and fewer choices for the player. For example, if you hold a 5 and a 7, you’d have a hard 12.
Hands that have an ace that counts as one are also classed as ‘hard.’ For example, if you have a 10, a 4 and an ace, that would be ‘a hard 15.’
How Does Betting Strategy Change for Soft and Hard Hands
The only way to reach the optimal 0.5% edge in blackjack is by utilizing the basic blackjack strategy correctly. The basic strategy chart outlines the mathematically correct way to play each hand, taking into account both your and the dealer’s total.
Only a small percentage of players can correctly apply basic strategy. It’s mostly because they don’t know about it or they aren’t patient enough to see it through. In any case, most players are prone to making misplays, which can increase the house edge by up to 4% or even more.
There are a few variables within the basic strategy, including number of decks played and the S17 rule.
Depending on whether the S17 rule is in effect, you should adjust your basic strategy accordingly. The changes are mainly regarding doubling down in certain situations. For example, you should double down on 11 if the dealer shows an ace and hits a soft 17. Also you should double down if you’re holding a soft 18 and the dealer has 2, and double down on a soft 19 if the dealer has 6.
In games with four decks or more, you’ll also double down on soft 17 when the dealer’s up card is a 2.
One of the most important concepts in blackjack is soft and hard hands as it directly impacts your basic strategy configuration and therefore, your chances of winning. Hence, you should always check the rules for blackjack in your chosen casino in relation to S17 vs. H17.
You should choose tables that use the S17 rule, as it is more player-friendly in the long run.