Blackjack is a skill-based game, meaning that in order to win, you have to apply a reliable strategy throughout the game. The key to becoming a consistent winner is to prepare as much as possible in advance and learn the game’s subtleties and rules by heart. It is not advisable to play before you are entirely familiar with its basics and fundamental principles as this way you are bound to lose large sums, especially if you join a high-stakes table.
One of the most important terms which every blackjack player should know concerns a certain type of hands. If you manage to understand how to play soft hands, you will be able to make wiser decisions for your moves and significantly improve your performance. Many players, even proficient ones, fail to pay special attention to these hands and as a result, they often misplay them. The reason why it is so essential to learn the best way to tackle such situations is that they can be very beneficial and if you are not able to get the most out of them, you can simply miss a great opportunity.
What are Soft Hands
In brief, soft hands contain an ace and the reason why they are beneficial is that their total can be changed according to your needs. The ace is the most powerful card in the deck due to the fact that it can be counted as either one or eleven. This gives you the freedom to adjust the total of your hand so that you don’t bust.
As a matter of fact, when you have such a combination, you cannot exceed twenty-one by taking a hit which brings the needed peace of mind and lets you enjoy the game even more. For instance, if you have a soft 15 which consists of an ace and a four and you draw an eight, you would bust if it wasn’t for the ace.
For example, if you have an ace and a three, the dealer will refer to your hand as four or fourteen due to the fact that it is entirely up to you how the ace will be counted. It is important to mention that two or more cards can form a soft hand. In other words, not only 2-card hands containing an ace are soft. If you hold 3-5-Ace, then you have soft 19.
Strategy for Playing Soft Hands
Since blackjack is a skill-based game, it gives you the opportunity to apply a strategy and this way decrease the house edge. Soft hands are no different than any other card combination in the game. They also require a proper approach and a strategy. It is essential to know how to play them correctly if you want to make the most of every game.
Let’s have a look at some of the soft hands which you can possibly get during the course of the game and how to tackle them successfully. It should be noted that in order to make the best possible decision, you should always take into account the dealer’s up card as after all, you compete with them.
Whenever you get a soft hand, you can choose from three options – to hit, stand, or double down. The first situation which we will consider is if you are dealt an ace and a two as your first two cards, forming a soft 13. In such cases, it is recommended to hit, unless the dealer’s up card is a five, or a six as then it is best to double down.
Let’s assume that this time you get soft 14, 15, or 16 hands and the dealer is waiting for your decision. In such cases, you should first remember that the strategy for these three hands is the same and that if the dealer has a four, a five, or a six, your best option will be to double down. If the dealer’s up card is any different, you should simply hit and hope for the best.
Another case which is worth discussing is when you have a soft 18 hand or in other words, if you have an ace and a seven. In such situations, you should always carefully consider the up card of the dealer as your best move strictly depends on it. Let’s assume that you happen to have a soft 18 hand when the dealer is showing a two, a seven, or an eight. In such cases, you should stand due to the fact that your hand has better chances of winning than the dealer’s.
If the dealer’s up card is from three through six, you should apply a different approach which is riskier. In such cases, perhaps your best move is to double down due to the fact that the croupier is in a weak position. Therefore, you have decent chances of winning and you should try to make the most of this situation by increasing your wager.
In general, doubling down should be performed whenever the dealer is in a seemingly unfavorable position and your hand is good. Such opportunities don’t occur too often and it is essential to know how to take advantage of them in order to make up for your previous losses.
For the rest of the cases – whenever the dealer has a nine, a ten, or an ace, it is recommended to simply hit. At first glance, hitting when you have a soft 18 seems inappropriate due to the fact that most players consider eighteen to be a fairly decent total. However, bearing in mind that the average winning hand in blackjack has been estimated to be 18.5 points, a total of eighteen is simply not enough to beat the dealer if they have a powerful card. Even though in order to improve your hand by hitting, you need to draw any of the three cards – an ace, a two, or a three and your chances of doing so aren’t high, it is still your best choice. In general, a soft 18 hand is a very tricky combination which puts you at risk.
Last but not least, you should consider the cases in which you have either a soft 19 or a soft 20 hand. It should be noted that these are among the best card combinations which you can possibly get in blackjack because the chance of going bust is very low. Such strong totals are almost impossible to be improved. Whenever you have these two hands, you are in a great position and you have very realistic chances of winning. Depending on the dealer’s up card, the number of decks used, and the dealer’s play rules, you can either stand or double down.
But if you play multi-deck blackjack where the dealer stands on soft 17, you should stand regardless of the dealer’s up card. Provided that you play multi-deck blackjack where the dealer must hit soft 17 and you hold a soft 19, then it is again better to double down.
Even if your soft 19 hand consists of more than two cards, you should double down when the dealer’s up card is a 6. However, some casinos allow players to double down only on their first two cards. So, if your soft 19 consists of three or more cards and doubling down is not an option, then your best option is to stand.
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Soft hands in blackjack are extremely important card combinations which every player should be familiar with. In rare cases, they can result in a bust but they can also help you to win a decent amount of money as the choice of how to play them is entirely yours. Understanding how to tackle soft hands successfully will help you to increase your chances of winning and will make the game more enjoyable. Although it might take some time until you master the above-mentioned strategy completely and apply it without much thinking, as soon as you start using it, you will notice a visible change and improvement in your game.