Mastering Soft and Hard Hands in Blackjack

Beginner's Guide to Blackjack Soft and Hard Hands

Are soft and hard hands holding you back at the blackjack tables? Mastering these crucial hand values can shift the odds, especially since 57% of bettors don’t know the difference between the two. Get ready to up your game with our expert guide that cracks the code on leveraging soft vs hard hands like a pro.

Looking at the Cards You’re Dealt: What are Hands in Blackjack?

According to our gambling specialists, there are various types of blackjack hands, all of which serve different purposes in the blackjack casino game. To get an edge when playing online casino blackjack, you must learn about the blackjack hands and how they work. Our writer – Alexandra Camelia Dedu – hasve covered some of the most common hands you will find when you play blackjack online.

Blackjack Hand Type Definition
Blackjack The blackjack hand consists of an ace and 10. It is called blackjack since it gives you a total of 21 – which is unbeatable. The blackjack hand is the best hand on blackjack with a house edge of less than 1%.
Pair Hands Pair hands are two cards between 2 – 10 with the same numerical and face value for queens, jacks, aces, and kings. These hands are excellent since the odds of getting them are extremely low.
Multi-Card Hands This is one of the best blackjack variants with two or more hands. Multi-card hands are great since they give you more chances of winning.
Doubling Hands The double down is a strategy in blackjack hands where a blackjack player doubles their bet during a hand. Once you do this, you get an additional card added to your hand. While this strategy is great, doing it wrong can cause you to lose twice as much.
Splitting Hands If you are dealt two cards with the same numerical value, like two fours or sixes, you can split them and play with different hands. This is a great strategy since it places you in a better position against the dealer.

What are Soft Hands?

What are Soft Hands

Soft hands in blackjack are those that have an ace. You can count the ace as either 1 or 11, which means you have more options on the blackjack table. With a soft hand, you have better chances of landing a payout due to the broader options available.

Let’s assume the dealer deals you a four card and an ace, and you’ll have a soft 15.

So, how does it work?

You can count aces as 11 points, making them 15 when you add them to the 4 cards. If your next card is a high-value one that can cause you to go bust, like 8, you can count the ace as 1, leaving your total under 21.

With soft hands, you can make slight adjustments without busting. Other examples of soft hands include:

  • Soft 18 – Ace + 8
  • Soft 19 – Ace + 9

What is the Best Soft Hand to be Dealt?

The best soft hand in blackjack is soft 17 or soft 18. These hands offer you a good position to stand against the dealer. With these hands, if you are dealt low-level cards 2 -5, you do no fear going bust in a blackjack game.

But if you are dealt higher-level cards, you can count the ace as a 1, ensuring you still have a strong hand.  Note that there is no specific approach when you get a great soft hand. Your strategy will depend on the unique circumstances of the game, your risk appetite, and the dealer’s upcard.

What is the Worst Soft Hand to be Dealt?

A soft 14 is the worst soft hand you can be dealt in blackjack. This is because it limits the strategies you can implement without going bust. To mitigate the effects of this bad hand, you’ll need to evaluate the situation and make calculated choices. It’s important to tread cautiously when deciding whether to hit or stand when you have a soft 14.

What is a Hard Hand in Blackjack?

What is a Hard Hand in Blackjack

A hard hand in blackjack is a combination of two cards without an Ace or one where the Ace has a value of 1. These hands are considered “bad” since there is a high risk of going bust or over 21.

There are different hard hands, including:

  • Hard 17: A mix of cards that make a total of 17 without an ace
  • Hard 16: A combination of cards that make a total of 16 without an ace

For instance, you’ll go bust if you are dealt a hard 14 or 15 and the dealer deals a 10 card. If this happens with a soft 17, the ace can be counted as 1, thus reducing the risk of going bust. While hard hands may not be great, they are important, like every blackjack table hand.

Can You Turn A Soft Hand Into A Hard One?

You can indirectly change a good soft hand into a hard one based on your choices in the blackjack game. Say you get a soft 16 and are dealt with a 10 value card after you hit, you will need to count the ace as 1, which then turns your soft 16 into a hard 16. It is important to note this so you can adjust your strategy chart while you play without the danger of getting stuck with a hard hand.

Strategies We Recommend with Soft and Hard Hands

Soft or hard hands don’t matter if you don’t learn the basic blackjack strategy at NZ online live dealer platforms. To help NZ bettors out, we have compiled a list of strategies below.

Strategies We Recommend with Soft and Hard Hands

Making the Most of Soft Hands

Soft hands are great and come with numerous benefits, including:

  • Flexibility: You have more options with your choices. You can count the ace as 1 or 11 as the need arises.
  • Lower risk of busting: The chances of going bust when you play soft hands are lower than when you play hard hands.
  • Potential for increased payouts: soft hands can ensure you get higher payouts than hard hands.

Even though soft hands offer these benefits, they don’t automatically guarantee a win when claiming a casino offer in NZ. Instead, you must learn to play blackjack and incorporate various strategies to increase your chances of winning.

In most cases, your best bet is to stand on a soft hand as it minimizes the possibility of you busting, especially if you have a strong soft hand. You can also double down if you notice the dealer does not have a strong upcard. However, if the soft hand is weak, like soft 13 – 15, you can hit to get a stringer hand without going bust. If the casino supports it, you can use the card-counting strategy to get ahead.

Any of these strategies will give you the best outcome with your soft hands.

How to Play Hard Hands the Right Way

Blackjack hard hands come with a few downsides, including:

  • Limited flexibility: With hard hands, you don’t have as many options as you would with soft hands. There is restriction in how you can hit, double down or stand – making it difficult to make any move without busting.
  • Higher risk of Busting: You have a higher chance of busting with hard hands. In most cases, any high-level card dealt by the dealer makes you go bust.
  • Hard to Improve Hands: If you have a weak hard hand, it can be tricky to improve it without going bust.

When it comes to hard hands, the optimal blackjack basic strategy is to be more aggressive with low totals and cautious with high totals.

Other Factors that Can Influence This Basic Strategy

Some factors can sometimes affect the basic strategy for soft and hard hands. It is important to consider them if your goal is to land a winning hand. Some of these include:

  1. The dealer’s Upcard: The dealer’s upcard can influence your blackjack strategy. For instance, if the dealer has a weak upcard, they have a higher chance of going bust which puts you in a better position. In this case, you can stand on a soft 17 or any other strong hand you have. However, you may need to take a more defensive approach if the dealer has a strong hand.
  2. The Number of Decks: While the typical blackjack deck consists of 52 cards, alternatives like multi-hand blackjack can have up to 8 52 deck cards. Since the decks in play have changed, your basic strategy chart may be affected too.
  3. Hand Composition: The total value of your and can influence your strategy. Your chosen strategy will depend on whether your hand is weak, low, or between.
  4. Rules of the game: Every blackjack variant is different, so it is important to learn the rules of the variant you are playing before you use a basic strategy chart.

Ultimately, you must remember that there is no fixed play method. Hands should be played differently based on the answers you get after considering the factors above. If you’re a newbie, you should also consider our strategies for learning to play blackjack titles.