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Explained: How to Play Blackjack Soft 17

Blackjack

2021-11-03

Eddy Cheung

If you’re a seasoned casino player, then blackjack soft 17 is not an alien term to you. Usually, players are confused between standing, hitting, and doubling down when they encounter this hand. So, this guidepost explains this blackjack strategy in detail and how to play it accurately.

Explained: How to Play Blackjack Soft 17

What is Soft 17 Rule?

A soft 17 hand or an S17 is any blackjack hand with an Ace represented as 11. For instance, a hand with an ace+6 or ace+3+3 is regarded as a soft 17. The same rule applies to a hand with an ace+2+2+2.

In short, the basic strategy for playing a hand with an ace+6 is different from a hand with a 10+7. Although both hands total is 17, the former doesn’t have an ace. Therefore, it’s regarded as a hard 17 in the blackjack world.

It’s important to note that having an ace in your hand affords you the much-needed flexibility on a blackjack table. That’s because it can be counted as a 1 or 11, allowing you the room to change the hand total.

How to Play a Soft 17 Hand

As said earlier, most players don’t know what to do when they are dealt this hand. But fret not because you can do either of the following things:

  • Don’t stand
  • Double down when the croupier’s upcard is a 3 through to 6. In a single-deck game, double down when it’s 2 through to 6.

If you don’t know, standing in blackjack refers to holding your total and ending your turn. You can also hit by requesting the dealer for an additional card. However, if you exceed 21, you bust and lose the hand.

Don’t Stand on S17

The basic blackjack strategy against this hand at a live casino is never to stand, regardless of the dealer’s upcard. While most players believe that standing on a 17 is a good move, it’s actually the opposite because you may end up losing more money than hitting.

Still not convinced, right? Okay, some casinos require the dealer to hit a soft 17. Reason? The house edge increases tremendously. So equally, the player should hit at S17 rather than stand.

Doubling Down on S17

Many novice blackjack players don’t double down because they understand nothing about this strategy. But here is the thing; you should double down to induce more funds on the table, as the croupier is more vulnerable to busting at this stage.

In a multi-deck game, you should double down if the dealer has a low-value upcard ranging from 3 to 6. For a single-deck game, always double down if the upcard is 2 to 6.

How the Soft 17 Rule Affects the House Edge

First of all, the house edge is the advantage in percentage that the house has in all wagers you make. So, suppose the blackjack game has a 0.50% house advantage; it means the house will walk away with $0.50 on every $100 wager you make. Note that this is whether you win or lose.

Now, if your average bet size is $30 playing 50 hands per hour, you need to calculate your expected loss per hour. Below is the math:

$30/hand x 50 hands/hour x 0.50% = $7.50/hour

With these numbers in mind, the dealer hitting S17 increases the house advantage by at least 0.2%. As small as this number might be, it increases your hourly loss to around $10.50, going by the example above.

Conclusion

Up to this point, you now know a few things about the soft 17 rule. However, it takes more than just reading on paper to master this strategy. So, start by sharpening your skills on the free demo versions before risking anything in a live dealer room. All the best!

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AUTHOREddy Cheung

I remember the first time I saw Kai Tak, Hong Kong's gambling city, I thought I was in a fairy tale. All the lights blinking, the music and the monumental buildings, what 9-year-old wouldn’t think they’ve come to a magical place? It was my father who brought me, dragging me along and when inside I was hit by the smell of frying duck. As soon as I hit 21 I returned to Kai Tak, A bit nervous to see if my mind had embellished the memory, but it hadn’t. Kai Tak was still a magical place. I decided I wanted to spend as much time as I could at this place, so I did. For the next coming years I lived and breathed Kai Tak. Now I am married with kids, and they have become a part of my life too. That’s why I started exploring online casinos to create a better work-life balance and I couldn’t be happier!

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