Blackjack Soft Hands

How to Play Soft Hands in Blackjack

Blackjack Soft Hands

What is a soft hand in Blackjack

Blackjack soft hands can be the difference between a good Blackjack experience and a lousy Blackjack experience. Unlike in our slots, players have a lot more of a say of what happens after they have set their stake. In slots players spin the reels, and the end result is immediate. However, during Blackjack, soft hands are one of the ways that players can control what happens. An ace can either enter play as a 1 or an 11, so for example if you have an ace and an eight like in the picture above it can either play as a 9 or a 19.

Now imagine you have the combination above: the dealer has an upward card of 10, what do you do?




Click one of the options to see if you chose wisely or poorly.

Are Soft Hands always good in Blackjack?

There are several reasons why soft hands can be equally damaging as they can be significant. However, the majority of these can be negated and removed from your game by simply knowing when to make the most of a soft hand and when to stand. In fact, you can improve your Blackjack playing experience by following the rules below. You aren't required to abide by these rules, but we recommend doing so.

Three Rules Of Soft Hands

  1. If the player has a soft 18+, most of the time they shouldn't hit.

Several players believe that to win in Blackjack, they must get as close to 21 as possible. However, this is not the case; the only necessity is to beat the dealer. So, if the dealer has an upcard that is 10+ fewer than your total, you should NOT hit. The majority of the time, the dealer will have less than you if you have a total of a soft 18 or more.

  1. Always watch the dealer's cards.

When it comes to playing Blackjack, one especially important rule is "always watch the dealer's card". Landing a 16 is never what anyone wants, but it could be very profitable if players acknowledge the dealer has a card of five or less. If the dealer needs two or more cards to beat you, then you shouldn't hit.

  1. Don't rely on having another card to play with.

We'll touch on this particular issue later in the blog, but if players rely on the safety net of having an additional card to play with, they run the risk of dramatically decreasing their chances of winning that hand. It may work in your favour on occasion, but for the majority, this will go badly.

The Best Soft Hand: Soft 13

In Blackjack, the general rule of thumb is that the lower your soft hand value, the higher chance you have of victory. There are more opportunities to land higher cards and even if you go over the 21 thresholds, you will end up with an outstanding total for your next round. Realistically, a soft 13 is one of the very best hands in Blackjack and in our opinion, the best hand to win you money.

Great Soft Hands: Soft 14-16

The reasoning behind these card hands being some of the best in Blackjack is similar to that of soft 13. Most cards give you a superior total and those that don't put you in a better position to hit once again and beat the dealer. Soft 16 is more of an average hand but can still provide an above-average style of payout, which is why it is included in this section.

We've already mentioned that our players should avoid hitting on soft hands of 18 or more.

Mixing the Double Down with Soft Hands

When deciding to play Blackjack at either an online or a land casino, players should know whether or not they can double down if they land a soft hand or when they choose to split. If you don't know, you can always ask the dealer or check the information page of the casino game.

The main thing to check out is how many different cards can give you a good hand from a specific combination. For example, if you double down with an ace and a deuce where five cards could provide a reasonable total, there's an 8/13 chance of landing a lousy hand. Before choosing whether to double down or not, always think about how many cards could make or break your round.

So by this logic, the best soft hand that you can have is ace/seven as only five cards can make your hand worse. This means that eight cards with leave you in an equally good or better position. So, if you are going to do anything with a soft 17, 18 or 19, we suggest doubling down. Of course, if the dealer's upcard is less than a ten-value card away from yours, then you will have the upper hand.

The Biggest Mistake players make on Soft 19

Relying on the safety net

Too often players look at a soft 19 and think, I could get a 20 or a 21 and even if I don't, I'll still be able to draw another card. Although this is true, it definitely isn't recommended. As you can see from the statistics above if you play then your chance of bettering your score and winning is approximately 11.8% which is substantially down from the 61.8% chance of winning that you have if you stand.

A multi-card soft 19

This segment relates back to our previous section of players relying on the safety net; there is one exception to this rule which is if the dealer has a six upcard. In this case, it could be worth the risk in a single-deck game, which is incredibly rare, but if you're playing with friends, this could be the case. However, we don't recommend it.

What chances do I have of landing soft hands?

Landing soft hands in Blackjack may feel like a rare occasion, but it actually happens a lot more than you may think whilst you play the game.

Total Chances /169 Percentage
Soft Hands 17/169 10.1%
Blackjack 8/169 4.7%
20 16/169 9.5%
19 8/169 4.7%
18 9/169 5.3%
17 10/169 6%
16 11/169 6.5%
10-16 80/169 40.8%
4-9 21/169 12.4%

The table above shows that players actually have a 23% chance of either landing a soft hand, Blackjack or 20 from their initial cards and another 22.5% of landing between 16 and 19 with their cards, which is also the chance that the dealer has of landing each combination. With a 40% chance of landing between 10 and 16, it often means that players are stuck in making a difficult decision on whether or not to hit or stand their hand.

Why the dealer's hand is more important than yours

In reality, what the player has in front of them is less important than what the dealer has in front of them. Why is this? Because, as long as the player doesn't go bust, they can win depending on what the dealer does. The dealer needs to turn over at least 16 to be able to play while in a lot of casinos, the player doesn't need any specific numbers. You could have a hand of three and still manage to pick up a win if the dealer goes bust. Of course, we don't recommend this as anything can happen.

Blackjack Soft Hand FAQs

Q. How do you play soft hands in Blackjack?

Playing a soft hand is just like any other hand, except when players land over 21, where they have the opportunity to convert their ace from an 11 into a one. This means that if players have an ace, a six and then they pull a ten, they'll have 17 instead of 27.

Q. What are hard and soft hands in Blackjack?

When playing Blackjack, it is straightforward to differentiate what a hard and soft hand is, and it all comes down to whether players land an ace or not. If a player's hand is valued under 20 and contains an ace, it is a soft hand. If the hand does not hold an ace, it is a hard hand.

Q. What is a soft 14 in Blackjack?

A soft 14 is where the player's original hand is an ace and a three. A soft 14 is also one of the best soft hands players can land.

Q. What does a soft 17 mean in Blackjack?

A soft 17 is where players have an ace and a six in their original hand. This is one of the most controversial hands in Blackjack as there are several different ways to play this hand.

Q. Should you hit 16?

Determining whether or not you should hit a 16 will vastly depend on what the dealer’s upcard is. If the dealer has a five or lower, then realistically you have a better chance of winning if you stick. However, if the upcard is six or higher, odds suggest that you will need to hit to land a win. However, lower odds don't equal guarantees. Judge the situation as you play.

Blackjack Tip Of The Article

Don't be afraid to ask questions. If you can't find a space on a £5 table, ask if you can place a bet using an empty £10 table. Not entirely sure on what to do in certain situations? Ask, not during a game, of course, wait until the end or ask before you play. Give yourself as much of an advantage as you possibly can. The phrase "knowledge is power and power is money' isn't always correct, but in this situation, all the knowledge you can have on Blackjack before you play could come in handy and be the difference between a win and a loss.