Blackjack Hard and Soft Hands the Biggest FAQ

By Debra SaundersGoogle
After researching many Blackjack players from regular players to those that dabble in the game, one of the points of the game that most people still don’t seem to understand is the hard and soft hand terminologies. It is clear why this can become confusing because there are quite a few variations. Most Blackjack players just want to get down to business and play rather than spend too much time worrying about a technicality and so the hard and soft hand terms are forgotten.

Quite simply, a hard hand means a player risks going bust if he/she chooses to ‘hit’ or ‘double

 When those who did not know this rule heard the statement their initial response was “So what does the Ace have to do with it?’ You can have a hard Ace or a soft Ace in Blackjack. A hard Ace must count as 1; while a soft ace can count as either a 1 or 11. The reason for this is because the Ace’s 2 values has the flexibility to change a hand from bust to not bust.

Soft hands can also change into hard hands, and soft aces into hard aces

For example, a player could have a soft A-4 hand – this is a soft hand because there is no risk of going bust over 21. Ideally a 7 will create a soft 21 hand. However, an 8 would make the hand bust if the Ace was counted as 11 (11 + 4 + 7 = 22). We have to down the value of the Ace to a 1 (1 + 4 + 7 = 12). The hand is now a hard hand because it has a value of 12 and risks going bust if a 10 or picture card comes out then the hand will bust at 22.

Another question that regularly occurred was the question regarding a soft 21 hand’

A soft 21 hand is when the player hits and the resulting card means the Ace must count as a 1. So effectively you have a hard Ace in a soft hand. For instance, if the player has a soft A-4 again and ‘hits’ for another card and that card is a 6, then the total is (11 + 4 + 6 = 21). The player cannot continue because he/she has 21, but this is also a hand that cannot go bust if the player did ‘hit’ because if we counted the Ace as 1 we would have a score that cannot go bust (1 + 4 + 6 = 11).

Using the examples written here, you should be able easily work out what a soft 17 is! On some games a soft 17 means the dealer must hit; while in others, the dealer will stand. 

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