That Soft 17

Want to know about a bad house rule?

Here’s one: the dealer can hit on soft 17.

Generally speaking, dealers have to stand on 17s. This would also include a soft 17.

However, there are some casinos out there—and some online versions of blackjack as well—that will allow a dealer to hi a soft 17. This gives the house an additional two tenths of a percent to their edge.

We all know that playing perfect basic strategy can lower the house edge to around 0.5%. We know that the casinos know this too. They’re very aware of basic strategy and what it can do. So it’s not all that surprising that they would try to make a low blow to increase their edge even if only a little bit.

This is what hitting on a soft 17 does for them.

Like for blackjack players, hitting on a soft hand can give it a second chance at becoming a strong hand. When the cards are running thick with low cards, the dealer is in a prime position to hit that soft 17 and potentially make a stronger hand.

It’s not enough that the house has the edge, even with basic strategy. Oh, no, they’re going to try to increase their edge in any way that they can. Hence a dealer hitting on a soft 17.

Hitting a soft 17 is a low blow because, while hitting a soft 17 isn’t a huge increase, it’s enough to be annoying—like a light slap in the face. It’s like that guy in a debate who doesn’t have any good points to argue against you with so he calls you a name instead.

A dealer hitting a soft 17 is one of those new rules that casinos are using to “freshen up” a strong classic casino game. Blackjack doesn’t need any freshening up, and that’s a sorry excuse to try to fool players into allowing the house more of an edge.

Only play in blackjack games in which the dealer must stand on all 17s.