Soft Hands in Blackjack

Recently I talked a bit about the different types of hands players are going to find when playing blackjack. Most specifically I talked about hard hands and how best to play them. Today we are going to look at soft hands.

What sets soft hands aside from other hands in blackjack is their Aces. In order to be a soft hand the player must be holding an Ace. However the big misconception is that just because you have an Ace it means your hand is soft.

Not true.

A hand is only said to be soft in blackjack when the Ace is being valued at 11 and the possibility still exists to reduce that 11 to 1. It is the flexibility of the Ace’s value that makes the hand soft because it can change the value of, says, an Ace/5 from 16 to 6.

If the value of an Ace has already been reduced to 1 it is no longer considered a soft hand. This is because an Ace is usually reduced because the player hit and had to reduce the Ace to keep from busting. Obviously the player cannot increase the Ace back from 1 to 11 because they would bust. So since the Ace is no longer flexible in its value it is no longer a soft hand and is then considered a hard hand.

Because of the ability to change the Ace’s value, the blackjack strategy for soft hands differs from hard hands. There are some totals that players would stand on if it were a hard hand, but should hit if it is a soft hand.

For example, you would stand on a hard 18 against a dealer 9. But a soft 18 against a dealer 9 should be hit. And if your new card would take the soft 18 over 21, reduce the Ace to 1 and try rebuilding.

The trick to soft hand strategy in blackjack is to remember that Aces are flexible and to not be afraid to hit a soft total that you would normally stand on if it were a hard total. It takes a bit of getting used to, but if you practice blackjack and practice your basic strategy you will become comfortable with it.