Soft hands can be surprisingly hard to play in blackjack. I know, the name does not make these hands sound all that bad. But in blackjack having an Ace dealt to you at the beginning of a round can be a good thing and a bad thing.
The good thing about an Ace in blackjack is that you have the ability to change the value of that Ace if you need to. Aces start out with a value of 11 in blackjack. But if the player hits too high, that Ace can be reduced to a 1 to save the hand from busting. Think of it as having a second chance for your hand.
On the other hand, that ability to reduce can make it difficult to know how to play your hand. If you have a hard 14 versus a dealer’s 3 you would stand. But if that was a soft 14 against a dealer’s 3 you would hit. See what I mean? That Ace can make things a little trickier.
This also applies to knowing when to double down on a soft hand. And you want to double down every chance you get. It is one of the most advantages plays that a blackjack player has in his arsenal of plays. Doubling down when it is most advantageous hits the house’s edge for 1.6%. That is a big hit to them and you need to be hitting them like that when you can.
This does not mean doubling down on every hand or even on every soft hand. There is a simple little rule that you can add to your blackjack strategy tool bag: the rule of 9.
The way the rule of 9 works is simple. Take the value of the card in your hand that is not the Ace, then add that value to the value of the dealer’s up card. If the total is 9 or more you should double down. And if the total of your non-Ace card and the dealer’s up card is less than 9 you should hit.
Let’s say you have an Ace/6 against a dealer’s 4. Adding 6 and 4 together gives you 10; and since that passes the minimum of 9, you should double down on that ace/6 you are holding. But if you had an Ace/4 against a dealer’s 3, the 4 and 3 would only total 7; in that case you would hit since 7 is less than 9.
See, it is an easy rule to use. And you can use it for blackjack online just as easily as blackjack played in a brick and mortar casino.
Adding the rule of 9 to your blackjack strategy arsenal can help improve your strategy, make it stronger. With a stronger blackjack strategy—especially for doubling down—you can improve your blackjack odds.