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Blackjack Rules

Blackjack House Advantage

The number 17 is very important in Blackjack because it can be either the worst hand for you, or the dealer, or the best of a bad hand for you. Like in Craps, where the number 7 can be either the player’s friend or foe, so in Blackjack the number 17 can make or break your hand.

Many casinos offer Blackjack games where the House rules, which are painted on the felt-cover of their Blackjack table, say “Dealer must stand on all 17’s”. These are favorable rules for you. This rule means that even if the dealer gets an ace with a 6, a soft 17 hand, he must value the hand at 17, and therefore the dealer cannot take another card (or cards) to try and improve his hand and thus beat players who stay with a hand of 17.

It is important to remember that in Blackjack the player is the only one with choices. The dealer, who is playing for the House, must play in accordance with the House rules. No Exceptions are allowed! This therefore makes the “Dealer must stand on all 17’s” rule makes for the players a better game.

In the case of soft hands, you have so many options that the one factor of hitting on a soft 17 increases the House edge by more than double the normal percentage. Player’s choices, House rules, and House expected win percentage, all make the 17 hand a crucial point in the game. Accordingly, if you are playing in a casino which clearly stated that “dealer must hit on a soft 17”, you are giving up part of your edge, and therefore are not playing a game as favorable to you as others that you can find in other casinos, online or even at other tables in the same casino (some casinos provide both styles or Blackjack).

Being able to hit on a soft 17 will allow the dealer the chance to make a better hand. If, for instance, you are dealt a fairly respectable hand, an 18. In a game where the “Dealer Must stand on all 17’s”, you would win. But not however at this table, you do not automatically have a winner if the dealer has a soft 17. At this table the “Dealer must hit soft 17”, and although you are sitting pretty at 18, the dealer can easily draw a 2, or any other card or series of cards that will improve his hand, and possibly beat you.

Even if the dealer were to draw a 8, a bust card if the dealer’s hand was a hard 17, in a game where “Dealer must hit soft 17”, he now has 15 and therefore has yet another opportunity to draw a second card. He may draw a 5 and make 20 and beat not just you, but all the players at the table. And all this happened because the House rules dictate that the dealer must hit a soft-17.

By having the dealer hit on a soft 17, the House takes the decision based edge away from the player. In all other circumstances, where the “Dealer must stand on all 17’s”, it is the player, who exclusively, has all the choices to make.

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