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Blackjack Strategy

Soft Hand/Hard Hand Strategy

Many beginning players do not know what is meant by the term “soft hand”, a “soft hand” in blackjack is a combination of an ace with any card valued from 2 through 9. For instance, an ace with a 4 valued card dealt to you as the first two cardsis called a “soft hand”, and is so called because you can count the ace as either an 11 or as 1. In this example, you have a hand that is both 15 and 5, depending on how you choose to value the ace. The most important aspect of a soft hand is that it gives you more options with which to make your decisions. Most important is the fact that with a soft hand you can take a “hit” (to ask for and receive additional card(s)) without any danger of going over 21.

This is very important, because it offers you a chance to get closer to 21, and closer to a winning hand, Especially if the dealer’s up-card shows a probable hand better than the one dealt to you, and do so without the danger of “busting” with the draw of just one additional card – as would be the case if such a hand was a “hard 14”.

In our example, you can count the ace-and-4 as 5, and you receive an 8 as your hit. If you did not have a soft hand, but instead had a hard 15, a hit of 8 will put you at 23, a “bust”, in which case you automatically lose the bet. But by counting the ace as a 1, and receiving an 8, this combination of ace, 4 and the 8 will put your hand at 13. Although not a good hand, this still offers you yet one more chance to draw another card. In this instance you may draw a 6 value card, giving your hand a final value of 19. In effect, by using the ace as a 1, you allowed yourself to have two more chances to win. Many times you can considerably improve a bad hand by doing this, and even make a double-down bet in the correct circumstances. Your two main advantages over the House in Blackjack are being able to count an ace as 1, and receiving a “blackjack” (a natural).

For a bit more information, and a chart showing you some basic strategy for drawing versus standing, see our pages standing vs drawing with hard hands, and standing vs drawing with soft hands.

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