Blackjack Strategies for Different Situations: Soft Hands vs. Hard Hands

Blackjack Soft HandBy Marina Simonette.

Although new players might think it’s the case, blackjack card games aren’t purely about luck. Unlike most other casino games, blackjack asks for skill and strategy. Seasoned players know this and constantly work on improving their game tactics. If you’ve been reading up on your gambling theory, you’ve probably heard about the concept of ‘’soft hands vs hard hands’’. Understanding the pros and cons of each hand and leveraging this knowledge can mean the difference between winning and losing.

Naturally, your preferred playing style might change based on where you’re playing, in real life or on a gambling website. Almost all online casinos have blackjack on offer, and Wazamba Casino is a particular favorite among Polish players. If you prefer the unpredictability of RNG, the site also hosts over 1000 slots, and features a welcome bonus for you to use. However, if you’re a dedicated blackjack player, the best bonus you can give yourself and your game is to stick with this article and learn how to make the best of the cards you were dealt.

Soft Hands and Hard Hands; The Basics

Here’s how to know which type of hand you’ve just been dealt:

A Soft Hand

If you have an ace that can work as either 1 or 11 then the hand is regarded as soft. The flexibility to adjust the score is a valuable advantage as you can never go bust by hitting. Many players hope to get this combination because it means that they can never go over 21. For instance, you get dealt an ace and a 3, leaving you with what’s called a ‘soft’ 14. You decide to hit to improve your score but draw an 8. Luckily, you can simply switch the value of the ace back to 1.

A Hard Hand

This hand either doesn’t contain an ace or has one which must be counted as 1. In other words, it is what it is. An example of a hard hand is getting a 6 and an 8, which would be a ‘hard’ 14. Unlike soft hands, this type is considered quite risky, as your chances of busting are extremely high if you decide to hit.

Blackjack Strategies for Both Types

If you’re a blackjack newbie, rest easy. The online casino gambling market is full of places where you can hone your skills. No strategy guarantees a win, but a good one will minimize anyone’s losses. Let’s start by learning how to make the best out of each hand.  We assume a typical multiple-deck game.

Playing with Soft Hands

When playing blackjack, there are two things you need to pay attention to: your hand total score and the up card of the dealer. Here are some possible hands you could get and what to do with them:

  • Soft 12. This is a pair of Aces which should always be split.
  • Soft 13-14. If the dealer’s hand is a 5 or 6, double down on your bet, otherwise hit your hand.
  • Soft 15-16.  If the dealer’s hand is a 4, 5, or 6, double down on your bet, otherwise hit your hand.
  • Soft 17. If the dealer’s hand is a 3, 4, 5, or 6, double down on your bet, otherwise hit your hand.
  • Soft 18: Things get a little more complicated here. If the dealer’s hand is a 3, 4, 5, or 6, double down on your bet. If the up card is a 2, 7, or 8, it’s better if you stand (keep the two original cards). In other cases, you should hit.
  • Soft 19-20. It’s not exactly a mystery that you should absolutely stand in this case, regardless of the dealer’s up card. This is an extremely favorable hand to have.
  • Soft 21.  Well, this the best hand you can get.  A natural blackjack!

Soft Double Down RhymeMichael Dalton’s Soft Double Down Rhyme
from the Blackjack Review Network

Playing with Hard Hands

So, you’ve been dealt a hard hand. In blackjack, as in life, all that’s left to do is make the best of your circumstances. Here are a few scenarios that you might get yourself into:
  • Hard 8 or lower. It’s pretty clear that you should hit. It’s necessary to upgrade any low-value hand, and there’s virtually no risk in drawing another card.
  • Hard 9. If the dealer’s up card is 3 – 6, double down, otherwise hit.
  • Hard 10. If the dealer’s up card is 2 – 9, double down, otherwise hit. 
  • Hard 11. If the dealer’s up card is 2 – 10, double down, otherwise hit. 
  • Hard 12. If the dealer’s up card is 4 – 6, stand, otherwise hit.
  • Hard 13-16. If the dealer’s up card is 2 – 6, stand, otherwise hit.
  • Hard 17 and up. definitely stand.

When to Surrender

Hey, we get it. In this economy, it’s not always the brightest idea to risk it all. If you feel you’re about to lose your bet, no matter what, the best option might be to throw in the towel. Note that not all blackjack variants allow the players to surrender in order to keep the tension high, as surrendering can end up being an extremely attractive option. By surrendering, you keep half of your bet and the rest goes to the house.

A good risk management rule is that hard hands such as 15 and 16 may qualify for a surrender. For a hand of 15, you should surrender if the dealer has a 10 showing.  If you have a 16, surrender if the dealer has a 9, 10 or Ace showing.  Surrendering is the optimal play in these situations.

Conclusion

All in all, blackjack is as straightforward as casino games get. But it’s also necessary to thoroughly acquaint yourself with all of the potential card combinations you may end up getting. Just remember, there’s no such thing as a ‘’bad’’ hand; even the hardest one can be played wisely. For more details, minor exceptions, the strategy for pair splitting and complete advice, check out the blackjack basic strategy charts on this web site.

IMAGE CREDIT: DALL-E 3 by Copilot

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