Blackjack is one of those casino games that can’t be played effectively without an understanding of how blackjack works. A player also needs a well-formulated strategy which will prepare a player for any possible scenario. Many players who are new to blackjack will start off by memorizing what is known as the basic strategy. This is a commonly accepted set of strategic approaches which can increase a player’s chances of winning.
While this is helpful and is a great place for novice players to begin, it’s not enough. In addition to basic strategy, a player also needs a good understanding of blackjack terminology such as hard hands and soft hands. This outline will provide beginners with some useful tips for effectively playing soft hands.
Before a player learns how to play a soft hand it’s important that a player has a good understanding of just what a soft hand is. A soft hand is a hand which contains an Ace. This Ace is flexible and the player is free to decide whether that Ace will be counted as a 1 or 11. Players will decide this based on the dealer’s showing card as well as the other cards that the player is holding.
Another important factor to keep in mind when it comes to understanding how best to play a soft hand is that as part of the basic strategy a player should always assume that the dealer’s hidden card is a 10. There are 16 out of 52 cards in a deck that can be counted as 10s. These include 10, Jack, Queen and King. A player should therefore also always assume that s/he will draw a 10 on a hit. Keeping all this in mind will help a player decide how to play a soft hand.
Below are some guidelines to help new players approach different scenarios. It’s important that new players always consider the dealer’s showing card as well as their own hand before playing.
When playing a soft 13 of 14
If the dealer’s showing card is a 5 or 6, the player should double the initial bet made. This is also known as doubling down. A showing card of 5 or 6 could mean that the dealer will soon have a stiff hand and could go bust. It is therefore advisable that the player takes advantage of the situation.
If the dealer’s showing card is anything other than a 5 or 6, the player should hit. Drawing a new card can only improve the player’s hand. Drawing a 10, for example, will give the player the same total they started with as the Ace can be used as a 1. And if the player draws anything below 10 it will strengthen the player’s hand.
When playing a soft 15 or 16
If the dealer’s showing card is anything between 4 and 6, the player should double down. A player needs to act with the hand as it’s likely that the dealer will get a stiff hand and will go bust. It’s important that a player doesn’t stand but sees this as an opportunity to take advantage of what could be a potentially weak hand for the dealer.
If the dealer’s showing card is anything other than 4, 5, or 6 the player should simply hit. This is because any card that a player would draw would strengthen the player’s hand.
When playing a soft 17
If the dealer’s showing card is anything between 3 and 6, the player should double down. With one of those cards as the showing cards, it’s likely that the dealer will have a stiff hand. In this case doubling down increases the player’s chances of winning big.
If the dealer’s showing card is anything other than 3, 4, 5 or 6, the player should hit. This is a very strong hand for the player. Even if the player does draw a 10, the player won’t go bust because of the flexibility of the Ace. In this case, the Ace would count as one and would leave the player with a total of 17 yet again.
When playing a soft 18
If the dealer’s showing card is anything between 3 and 6, the player should double down. In this case, a player is safe to assume that the dealer has a stiff hand and could soon go bust. While, in this case, the player will benefit from drawing a card.
If the dealer’s showing card is 2, 7 or 8 the player should stand. This is a potentially strong hand for the dealer and drawing a card could weaken the player’s hand.
If the dealer’s showing card is a 9, 10 or Ace the player would be wise to hit. Anything a player draws in this situation could potentially strengthen a player’s hand.
When playing a soft 19 to a soft 21
Regardless of the dealer’s showing card, if the player has a soft 19, soft 20 of a soft 21 the player should stand. The chances of a player drawing a card to strengthen these hands are slim to none. With a soft 20, the only card that could strengthen the hand is the Ace. The chances of picking up an Ace aren’t very high. Any other card a player picked up in this situation would ruin a player’s hand. Similarly with a soft 19, there are only two cards that could strengthen the player’s hand. In this case it’s far better for a player to stand and avoid the risk of going bust.
Soft hands are often seen to be easier to play than a hard hand as the Ace is flexible. While this is true, a player still needs a lot of strategy, skill and an understanding of the rules of blackjack to effectively play a soft hand. With practice, however, players will develop a more intuitive approach to soft hands. As the cliché goes, practice makes perfect and nowhere is that truer than with soft hands.
If you feel you’ve mastered the basics and have what it takes, you should head over to Mr Green Casino and try your hand at some blackjack.