A natural blackjack is not the only thing that a player is hoping for when they sit down. Each player is hoping that if they cannot be dealt a natural blackjack that they will receive a 20. Or a 19. Or an 18. Or at least a 17—come one, Dealer, at least a 17!
And for the most part the average blackjack player is quite satisfied with a hard 17, be it one that they were dealt or one that they have hit to. Either way they feel like they have crossed That Line so that they feel safe.
A hard 17 gives players the feeling that they have a pretty decent shot of beating the dealer. That is why if you are playing in a brick and mortar casino and you watch the other players at the blackjack table you can see them release a little breath at having at least that hard 17. And if you are playing online blackjack watch yourself—and I will wager that you will feel more relaxed when you have that hard 17 on your screen.
However, that hard 17 can be a little on the deceiving side. It feels safe because it is the minimum hand to have that you just cannot hit. You know that if you hit that you will bust. So because it is a fairly high hand and you should not hit it, it feels like you have a shot of winning.
But let me ask you this—half of the time you should not hit a hard 16. So why does a hard 17 feel safer than a hard 16? Is it because you stand on it no matter what and you only stand on a 16 half of the time? Keep this thought in mind.
Here is the truth about our beloved hard 17: you will lose more money in the long run and there is nothing you can do about it.
You cannot hit a hard 17 so there is nothing you can do strategy-wise about not losing more over time. However there is a little bit of a silver lining in this.
When you have that hard 17 in your hand and the dealer is showing a 6. The dealer has a 42% chance of busting with that 6, which makes your chances of winning with that 17 greater.
I am not saying that a hard 17 is a bad hand to want. You should just keep in your best odds for your hard 17 are against a hard 6. And you had better stand then. Because you really have no choice—hit a hard 17 and you should just hand your money over. Stand and cross your fingers—strategy-wise you have done your best.