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Approaching Soft Blackjack Hands Like an Expert Player

December 24, 2012

Blackjack is a game of small advantages. There are a lot of situations where a player will only have a small advantage over the house, and there are also plenty of times when the house will have a small advantage over a player. However, there are a few times when the player will have a very large advantage over the house, and most of those times happen with soft hands. You really have to push your edge whenever you have strong, soft hands if you want to maximize your chances of winning at blackjack.

What makes soft hands so powerful is that you can play very aggressively for a high total without having to worry about going bust. Hard hands often require you to play passively against weak dealer cards because your best bet is to give the dealer a chance to go bust. However, you will only ever stand with a soft hand if you are satisfied with how large your total is, and you'll never do this with a total of less than 18.

With a soft 13 or 14, you're always going to hit except when you are facing a five or six. Against both of these cards, you should double if you have a chance. You should play a soft 15 or 16 exactly the same way, except you have to double against fours as well if you are able to. With a soft 17 or 18, you should double against a three, four, five or six. However, you should always hit with a 17 if you don't have the option to double, and you should stand with an 18 if you can't double as long as your opponent has an eight or lower. Against a nine, ten or ace, a soft 18 should hit instead. Always stand with a soft total of 19, 20 or 21 regardless of the dealer's cards.

Playing with soft hands is a lot of fun, but they don't come up as often as hard hands. The key to playing soft hands like an expert is to remember the strategies presented here and to make adjustments when necessary based on the count or the specific rules of the game you're playing. For example, if the dealer does not peek to check for blackjack with an ace or ten up, then you will need to play slightly more aggressively when the dealer holds a ten and much more aggressively when the dealer holds an ace. Since you can be running into a blackjack more often with this rule change, you have to adjust accordingly.