Even if you’re an experienced gambler, being dealt a soft 17 can leave you feeling stumped. Many players are unsure whether to stand or hit and have no clue whether to double down or not. Thankfully, we’re here to help. In this article, we explore exactly how to play a soft 17 at blackjack. After reading this article, you should be able to play the hand accurately every time!
To begin, let’s review the basics. A soft hand is any hand that includes an ace that is counted as 11. For instance, an ace-3-3 is a soft 17; as is an ace-6 and 2-2-ace-2. The basic playing strategy for a soft 17 is very different from that of a 10-7. A 10-7 is known as a hard 17, as it doesn’t include an ace counted as 11. Although both hands have a total of 17, a soft 17 should be played differently to a hard 17. This is because you can never bust with a one-card draw.
If you are dealt a soft 17, you should always follow the playing strategy below. The same rules apply regardless of whether you’re playing blackjack in an online or land-based casino.
The basic rules for standing on a soft 17 are simple: don’t do it! If you’re hoping to win the game, you should never stand on a soft 17. This is the case regardless of what the dealer’s up card is. While some players believe that 17 is a strong enough hand to stand on, this isn’t true for a soft hand. As a general rule, you’ll lose more money standing than either hitting or doubling down on a soft 17.
Many gamblers avoid doubling down because they don’t understand the reason for doing so. On soft hands, doubling down will not only outdraw the dealer, but it will also get more money on the table when the dealer is vulnerable. This is particularly true when the dealer’s up card is of low value.
The basic strategy for doubling down on a soft 17 is simple:
For multi-deck and double games, double down when the dealer’s up card is 3, 4, 5, or 6.
For single-deck games, double down when the dealer’s up card is 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6.
In some cases, you may hit your hand and end up with a soft 17. For instance, say you were dealt a 2-4 and the dealer’s up card is a 6. You hit and draw an ace, ending up with a soft 17. In most land-based and online casinos, the rules prohibit you from doubling down after drawing a third card. Therefore, if you have a multi-card soft 17, your best bet is to hit.
In some land-based and online casinos, you cannot double down on a soft hand whatsoever. Likewise, most video blackjack games prohibit players from doubling down on soft hands.
To adhere to the rules, the basic strategy is as follows:
If you have a multi-card soft 17 or the casino rules prohibit soft doubling, choose to hit.
The basic strategy rules for hitting on a soft 17 are as follows:
For multi-deck and double games, hit when the dealer’s up card is a 2 or 7, 8, 9, or ace.
For single-deck games, hit when the dealer’s up card is 7, 8, 9, or ace.
Sometimes, card counters vary their playing strategy depending on the count; however, it’s rare for a card counter to deviate with a soft 17 as there is not much to be gained. Typically, there are only two reasons why a card counter might consider doing so:
If the count is positive, double down on a soft 17 against the dealer’s 2 up card.
If the count is negative, hit against the dealer’s up card 3, 4, 5, or 6.
For best results, consult a table of index numbers for the counting system you are using. To be accurate, look for the specific index number for the plays above.
To some gamblers, a soft 17 can be confusing. However, it’s a simple hand to play once you know how. The most important thing to remember is to never stand on a soft 17. As a general rule, you should double down when the dealer’s up card is 3, 4, 5, or 6 in a double-deck game, or 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 in a single-deck game. If the rules prohibit you from doubling down, your best bet is to hit. Hit when the dealer shows a 2, 7, 8, 9, or ace.
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