The Thing with Soft Hands

Blackjack is one of the easiest games to play in the realm of casino games. Essentially if you can add up to 21 then you can play blackjack.

The strategy available for blackjack is also very simple. Basic strategy is the easiest strategy to use and have such a significant impact on the house edge.

So with both of those considered how is it that blackjack players keep misplaying soft hands?

To put the answer simply, since this is blackjack after all, is that players are misplaying their hands. Specifically soft hands.

I’m not sure how this is managed considering that basic strategy will tell a player the best way to play out every hand, including soft hands. So the problem is that players aren’t using the chart. As a result they are playing soft hands as if they were hard hands.

There’s a reason that a hand with an Ace has a different name from a hand that doesn’t have one.

And it is that Ace that makes the difference.

Blackjack players should be wanting soft hands because they offer more flexibility than hard hands. This is because that Ace can be reduced from an 11 to a 1.

Let’s look at an example. If you were dealt a hard 16 against a dealer showing a 3 you would stand. A good number of blackjack players will stand on an Ace/5 as well because they only see that the total is 16. They miss that Ace entirely.

If they were to check a basic strategy chart they would see that the correct play is to hit. You can hit a soft 16 because you have the power to reduce that Ace to a 1 if you have to.

It’s this flexibility that gives soft hands a different playing strategy on the chart from hard hands. If soft hands were meant to be played the same as a hard hand they wouldn’t have a separate name and a separate section on a basic strategy chart.

While you might be embarrassed to take a basic strategy chart to the blackjack table, it can seriously improve your odds of winning. It’s worth holding your pride in check and using the chart. If you’re really self conscious playing with the chart, practice playing blackjack online with it or simply stick to playing online blackjack.

Why Aces are Your Best Friends

Flexibility works in favor of the blackjack player.

We have more choices when it comes to what plays we can make. You can choose when to stand too. A dealer can only hit or stand. And they have to keep hitting until they have 17 or higher or they bust.

But what about flexibility when it comes to the cards in blackjack?

That one should be easy. Aces are the only flexible cards in the whole of blackjack. And if there’s another card that can change value and is therefore better than an Ace you tell me.

Aces are the best cards in all of blackjack. For one thing they are the essential card for a natural blackjack. It’s impossible to have blackjack without it. Sure you can hit and be lucky enough to hit to 21 but it’s not the same as blackjack, and the dealer can swipe your money out from under you if he has a natural to counter your more-than-two-cards 21.

So after being the key to having a natural blackjack, the next best thing about Aces is that you can change what they’re worth. They’ll usually start out as an 11 but if you hit too hard, you can reduce that 11 to a 1. Think of it as giving your hand a second chance.

And that’s really what an Ace gives you—if it doesn’t give you blackjack right off the bat.

Aces make up soft hands because you can change the value of that Ace. Say for example you have a 7/8 better known as a hard 15. Depending on the dealer’s up card, you’re hitting with a good shot at busting, or you’re standing with a good shot at the dealer having a higher total.

But if you have a 15 made up of Ace/4 it’s soft so you can hit it and if you need to, reduce it from 11 to 1. That’s how having an Ace can give your hand a second chance.

So between being the necessary card for a natural blackjack and having the ability to change the value, an Ace in blackjack is your best friend.