Hard Hands and Soft Hands in Blackjack

Before you sign up to play online blackjack, it’s important that you know the ins and outs of the game so you can use a strategy as effectively as possible. One of the most important things to remember is the difference between hard and soft hands, especially when it comes to high level play and knowing how best to approach a hand based on which you have.

The first thing to remember is the end goal of blackjack: it’s simple enough but the goal is that you beat the dealer and the surest way to do so is to get as close to 21 as possible. The different ways you can get there is the core difference between hard and soft hands.

If you have a hard hand then there’s very little wiggle room, examples of this would be things like a 10 and a 5 or an 8 and a 6. While you can still hit or stand depending on your playstyle, the number you’ve got is rigid and means whatever you decide is locked in stone. Generally, people only refer to hard hands when it’d be possible to go bust if you were unlucky with the card you get when you hit.

If you have a 2 and a 4 no matter what you get by hitting you’ll be in the clear. A soft hand is different because it contains an Ace, which is unique in Blackjack for being worth either an 11 or 1 depending on what the player needs. This means if you had a 7 and an ace, even if you got a ten out of the deck when you hit, you still wouldn’t go bust and would remain on 18.

This is the core difference between hard and soft hands: the danger of going bust isn’t there for soft hands. That isn’t to say you should always hit, of course, there’s a chance of weakening your hand considerably (and, much like the hard hands, while a hand that contains a nine and an ace is technically soft, it’s very ill advised to hit on it and is usually not considered a soft hand).

This has a fairly important impact on strategy, as hard hands tend to leave a smaller margin of error when it comes to hitting or sticking wildly. The other thing that it’s important to remember is that these rules also apply to croupiers. Most blackjack tables will have rules about the dealer hitting or standing on soft 17 and it’s important to check what the table policy is before you start playing. If the dealer stands on soft 17 then that can add to your advantage as the dealer won’t be able to buff the hand up if that’s what they have. In terms of strategy, this’ll effect whether or not a hand is safe to stick on and has a bearing on how you should approach each hand.

Keeping these things in mind will enhance your game and help you make the best call at the table. Just remember, if you could go bust it’s a hard hand, if you’ve got an ace to fall back on it’s soft. Have fun!