General Tips for Playing Soft Hands

Aces are the best cards in a game of blackjack. Your first thought as to why might be that an Ace is the best card because it is necessary to having a natural blackjack.

But if that were true, then why are cards worth 10 not considered the best?

Simply put, Aces are the best cards in blackjack because of their flexibility. Hands with Aces, called soft hands, do not bust like hard hands—hands without Aces—do. This is because Aces in blackjack start with a value of 11, but their value can be reduced to 1 if the player hits their hand too high.

For example, if you had a hard 16 versus a dealer up card of 5, you would not hit your hand because the chances of busting are too high. But with a soft 16 (an Ace with a five) you would hit against a dealer’s 5. If you receive a six or higher, the value of the Ace comes down from 11 to 1. So if you were to hit a soft 16 and receive an 8, your hand total would be 14 instead of 24, allowing you to still stay in the round.

But once an Ace is reduced to a 1 the hand then becomes a hard hand.

The general rule of thumb with a soft hand is that a soft 17 or lower should be hit, while a soft 18 or higher should stand—the hand value for a soft 18 and higher is too valuable to risk hitting and losing.

But the best way to play a soft hand in blackjack can be found on a basic strategy chart which is a chart with how to play every hand—soft, hard or pairs—in blackjack with the most advantageous play. But soft hand strategy should be studied so that opportunities to win money are not lost from misplaying those hands.