Hard and Soft Hands

When playing blackjack, aces offer an option that, when dealt into your hand, creates hands known as "soft", or "hard". Here is an explanation:

A hard hand is any hand in which there are no aces, or where the ace is valued as a 1. Here are several examples of hard hands.

10 - 5 = Hard 15 10 - 5 - 3 = Hard 18 9 - 8 = Hard 17 10 - 3 - 2 - Ace = Hard 16 8 - 5 - 2 - Ace - Ace = Hard 17

In the last two hands the ace counted as a 1, because to count it as an 11 would give a total over 21 and bust the hand. The other hands had no aces and were simple hard hands.

When a player plays their hand they don't have to announce that they have a hard total or that they are using their ace as a 1, rather than an 11. It will be obvious to them and to the dealer, who won't question them as to how they wants to value the ace.

For example, a player is dealt 9 - 5, and hits, and gets, a 2, for a 16 total. They hit again and get an ace. They now have a 17. Even if they mistakenly believe they have busted, and shows their hand to the dealer, the dealer will tell them they only have a 17, and not a bust hand.

It is wise to practice adding up the totals of the hands, especially with an ace involved, to get a better feel of the game.

Soft Totals and Hands:

A soft hand is any hand in which the ace is counted as an 11, or if more than one ace has been dealt to that hand; at least one of the aces is counted as an 11.

Let's give this example: The player is dealt Ace-6. They now have a soft 17, with ace counting as an 11. If they hit this hand and get another ace, thus holding Ace-6-Ace, they now have a soft 18, because one of the aces (it doesn't matter which) is valued an 11.

Most of the time, however, the player will only be dealt one ace in a hand. Thus, a hand such as an Ace-5-2 is a soft 18, with the ace counting as an 11, plus the other 7 valued points. With at least one ace in any original two-card holding, the player, if they wish, can draw another card without worrying about busting, for they cannot go over 21.

For example, a player is dealt the following hand: Ace-7, for a soft 18. If they hit this hand, and get a 6, the ace now reverts to a 1 and their total is 14. Remember, the player can use this ace as a 1, or 11, to best suit the hand and make the most of the cards.

A soft hand can turn into a hard hand. We saw this in the previous example, where a soft 18 turned into a hard 14. It is a hard hand because now the ace is valued as a 1. © Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

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