How to Play Soft BlackJack Hands

In the game of 21 there is a basic strategy that anyone can learn and implement. Many Blackjack hands that we encounter in a game of 21 are considered to be soft hands. That means that out of the first two cards dealt to the BJ player one of them is an ace. This creates a different situation because the Blackjack player has the option for the ace to be worth 11 or one, and the following 21 strategy can be followed to minimize the house edge over you. This strategy is both for land based casinos and US online casino play.

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The first thing to do when you play a blackjack hand either online at a casino like Bovada or at a land based casino, is to look at the dealer’s exposed card. Then you can look at your holdings, and if it’s a soft hand that contains an ace you have to base your decisions on this set of rules:

Soft BlackJack Hands Rules

  • If you have Ace-2 or Ace-3: Double if the dealer has 5 or 6, otherwise hit.
  • When you’re holding Ace-4 or Ace-5: Double if the dealer has 4 – 6, otherwise hit.
  • If you have Ace-6: Double if the dealer has 3 – 6, otherwise hit.
  • When you have Ace-7: Stand if the dealer has 2, 7, or 8, double 3 – 6, otherwise hit.
  • If you have Ace-8 or Ace-9: Always stand.

Soft Blackjack hands have a different strategy because the ace provides extra options; they provide a good opportunity to double up your bet with the best of it. In most games you’ll only be able to double it up once. Continue to play your soft 21 hands until it turns into a hard Blackjack hand.

One should also take the time to find out how the dealer plays their soft hands. Some games force the dealer to stand on soft 17, while others will be forced to hit. If the dealer is able to hit on soft 17, the player loses a 0.20% edge to the house. The dealers will get more opportunities to hit bigger hands by hitting on the soft 17, and they will win more often than if they were just holding on soft 17.

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