What does Soft 17 mean?

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Some players avoid blackjack because they don’t quite understand the ‘dealer must hit on soft 17’ rule on a blackjack table, but this rule can be quite favourable to a player provided they know how to play their hand.

Additionally, players who have played blackjack with the soft 17 rule, may have been tricked into thinking the basic strategy chart is universal and there is only one applicable to every set of rules. This is incorrect. S

o for players who either avoid the game because they can’t understand the rule, or for those have have been using the wrong strategy chart, we offer some information on the rule which may come in handy, the different basic strategy charts involved, as well as the best variations that offer the rule to help players play 21 at their optimum.

What is a soft 17 in blackjack?

A soft 17 not only affects the dealer, but it also effects the player. A soft hand occurs with an Ace, while a hard hand can occur with an Ace but it has to equal one, not 11. A soft hand is when the Ace exists as 11. So when we are talking about whether a 17 is hard or soft, the Ace is integral to the hand.

Basically, a hard 17 is when an Ace, seven, and nine occurs, with the Ace existing as one, as if the Ace was an 11 it would bust as it is amounts over 21.

A soft 17 however, exists as a six and an Ace, so the Ace counts as an 11.

The rule soft 17 means the dealers have to hit when they land a soft 17 hand. Players can figure out whether or not the soft 17 rule is in effect for the dealer by finding the rule written on the virtual table online, or by asking a croupier at land-based venues.

Why would a dealer hit on a soft 17?

Since it is soft, once dealers draw their third card, they can change the Ace amount from 11 to one. For example, say the dealer got a soft 17, so an Ace and a six, then drew a nine. It would appear they had 26 meaning they busted, but since the Ace can turn into a one, the amount actually totals 16.

So why is this a favourable rule for players?

Well take the aforementioned example. Drawing a nine totalled the dealer’s hand to 16, which is considered a terrible hand in blackjack and carries a 62% bust out rate with it, which in turn is favourable to the player. However, if the dealer revealed a two, three, four, or even a five when hitting on a soft 17, players may not be so lucky.

There tends to be this idea that standing on a soft 17 is more favourable, but it may not always be the case. Regardless, the best thing to do is ensure you take the basic strategy chart in account when considering which rule variant to play, which we discuss below.

Can players hit on a soft 17?

This rule isn’t exclusive for dealers; however, it’s only included in some variants, while players can hit on soft 17 in all titles. It isn’t advised for players to always hit on a soft 17 and that is when the basic blackjack strategy enters, suggesting to double down if allowed depending on the dealer’s up card.

What is the basic blackjack strategy?

The basic blackjack strategy is a chart, or multiple charts due to the amount of blackjack variations, which basically tells you the best move to make when the dealer has a certain card in relation to your hand. It isn’t a sure thing, but it is the best move to make according to mathematical calculations.

There are actually two predominant charts involved with one specifically made for variants where the dealer hits on a soft 17 and another for where the dealer stands on a soft 17. This is because it is recommended to do certain actions differently in accordance to whether the dealer hits or stands on a soft 17.

Basic strategy with soft 17

As mentioned above, there are modifications needed to be made when playing with the soft 17 rule. This in includes a number of hands against certain dealer cards. We have listed most of them, but remember to look it up yourself, especially if you are playing with less than four decks.

  1. Player has a total of 11 and dealer has an Ace: Double Down instead of hit
  2. Player has a soft 18 and dealer has a two: Double down instead of stand
  3. Player has hard 15 and dealer has an Ace: Surrender if allowed instead of hit
  4. Player has a pair of eights and dealer has an ace: Surrender if allowed instead of split

Blackjack variations with the soft 17 rule

There are multiple variations available online which offer the soft 17 rule where the dealer hits. It is important to note which title you are playing and even the software provider incase they have varying payouts. When searching for a strategy chart ensure you have the right game rules along with the soft 17 rule.

Single Deck Blackjack Pro – This title is by Net Entertainment and includes the dealer hits on soft 17 rule. With just a single deck, players will need to look up a basic strategy chart with one deck and the soft 17 rule. There is also a high and low limit version which both offer the same rules.

Spanish 21 – From Micgrogaming, this is an interesting variation of blackjack which offers the soft 17 rule. Players will need to look up a blackjack strategy chart specific to the Spanish 21 title and the soft 17 rule.