Exchange Blackjack Guide Free guide to playing exchange blackjack Exchange Blackjack Guide Free guide to playing exchange blackjack


Free guide explains how to play blackjack "with a twist."

Hard Hands and Soft Hands in Blackjack
A detailed explanation of each

The goal of Blackjack is easy to grasp - your aim is to get as close to 21 as possible without going bust.  The closer you get to the goal, the better the odds of you beating the dealer and leaving the table a winner. 

Getting the goal and acting on it are two very different beasts - there’s an element of skill involved and a not inconsiderable need to keep the math in your head as you consider what to do with your hand. 

One of the terms you’ll regularly hear pro players talking about are hard and soft hands and what you should do when you have one as well as, perhaps most importantly, what a dealer would do with a soft or hard hand.

Once you get to grips with the idea of hard and soft hands as well as basic strategy, you’ll be ready to have a go at playing online blackjack.  Here’s the difference:

In simplest terms, a hard hand is one where if you hit you are likely to go bust and a soft hand is one where you won’t be able to go bust, usually because the hand contains an ace. Good examples of a hard hand would be a 9 and a 6, or a 10 and a 3. While it makes sense to hit when you have 13 since you’re unlikely to win, the danger of going bust is still present and can make it a difficult decision. 

A hand with a value below 12 is rarely considered a hard hand and hitting on an 11 can’t leave you bust. A soft hand by contrast is any hand with a value over 12 which also contains an ace. As an ace is both an 11 and a 1 depending on what the player needs, you can’t go bust if you choose to hit. 

If, for example, you have an Ace and a 5 and choose to hit which gives you a ten, rather than go to 26 you remain at 16 as you can use the ace as a 1 instead of an 11. As there’s no risk of going bust, you can hit if you believe it’ll help your hand and doubling down is a solid option. 

While technically a hand with an Ace and a 9 or 8 would be a soft hand, most wouldn’t consider them such as their value is great enough to.

The best way to use a hard or soft hand will depend on what the exact hand is and there are a few hard or soft hands that require more careful strategy. 

For instance, it’d be unusual to hit on a hard 12 as it’s a particularly risky option (unless you practice card counting) and is one of the tougher cards to make a decision on. 

When it comes to dealers, the general rule of casinos is that the dealer will stand on 17, but what varies is the policy on soft 17s. In terms of probability, if the dealer hits on a soft 17 then the house has a greater edge and you should check to see the casino’s policy on this before sitting down at the table. Exchange Blackjack Guide Free guide to playing exchange blackjack

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