Blackjack Strategy: Soft 17

Soft hands. We all like soft hands, whether they’re those of a partner, a football player, or in blackjack. To be honest, my wife always complains about the calluses on my hands from working in the yard and playing guitar. She would prefer soft hands. So do I, especially in blackjack.

Soft hands in blackjack are great because you cannot bust when you draw a card with a soft hand. If you take a card that would cause you to go over 21, you simply change the ace into a 1 and now you have a hard hand. Soft hands take the risk out of taking a hit. Blackjack basic strategy has specific rules for each soft hand that you can have. Earlier, I covered the strategy for a soft 13, 14, 15 and 16. In this post, I will discuss what to do when you have a soft 17.

If you have a soft 17 and the dealer shows a 3, 4, 5 or 6, you should double down. If the dealer has anything else as an upcard, take a hit. Under no circumstances should you stand.
The reason you should never stand is that, like all soft hands, you can’t bust by taking a hit, so there is no risk in trying to improve your hand. If the dealer shows a 3, 4, 5, or 6, he probably has a stiff hand, which means he has good odds of busting. For that reason, since you would win regardless of your hand, doubling only increases your winnings in the event that you win.

Since the dealer has good odds of busting, there is no risk to trying to improve upon a 17, which is a decent hand. Even if you are dealt a 10 card, it gives you 17 once again (this time a hard 17) and you would follow basic strategy for that hand. Being dealt anything above a 4 causes you to go to a hard hand, but because the dealer is likely to bust, it is worth the risk of giving up the 17.

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