Blackjack is undoubtedly one of the most popular games found at casinos worldwide, and for good reason! Blackjack is simple to learn, but complicated enough to pose a challenge for seasoned players. The perfect mix of luck and skill, playing with good strategy can improve your chances of winning each hand. Today, we’ll learn what a hard and soft hand in blackjack is, and how you should play each one.

You can play blackjack online at virtually any top Australian casino site. Unlike bingo and roulette, your playing style can greatly affect the outcome of each hand in the game. In fact, playing with bad strategy can be detrimental to your bankroll.

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What Makes a Blackjack Hand Hard or Soft?

‘Hard’ and ‘soft’ refers to the two kinds of hand you can be given with the initial deal of cards in blackjack. The difference between the two is the presence of an Ace.

Having an Ace card in your hand makes it soft because it has greater flexibility of options given that the Ace card can be valued at either one or eleven.

A hard hand in blackjack is any hand without an Ace card. For example, a King and an 8, or two 4s. This hand is considered hard because there is no flexibility in the value of the hand at play. Each card has a fixed value, and so the options for players are more narrow.

The optimum blackjack strategy will change depending on whether you have a soft or hard hand.

Blackjack Soft Hand Strategies

With a soft hand, you can’t go bust by hitting and collecting another card. This is because the value of the Ace can always be downgraded to one.

Here is a basic strategy to use when you’ve been given a soft hand:

  • Soft Thirteen: A hand of an Ace and a two is known as a soft thirteen. The best strategy is to hit on a soft thirteen, unless the dealer’s upcard is a 5 or 6, when you should double down.
  • Soft Fourteen, Fifteen or Sixteen: As above, you should usually hit. However, if the dealer’s upcard is a 5, 6 or 7, it’s best to double down.
  • Soft Eighteen: If the dealer’s upcard is a 3, 4, 5 or 6, double down. If it’s a 2, 7 or 8, stand. If it’s a 9, 10, face card or an Ace, it’s best to hit.
  • Soft Nineteen or Twenty: Always stand on these hands which are close to 21.

It’s worth noting that the house edge built into blackjack means that, in the long term, the casino always has an advantage. For that reason, don’t expect to win every hand even if you do follow optimum blackjack strategy!

Blackjack Hard Hand Strategies

The strategy for hard blackjack hands is more complicated because there is less liquidity involved. Nevertheless, having sound strategy can help reduce the house edge significantly. Here are a few great tips:

  • Hand value of between 4 and 8: Always hit, regardless of the dealer’s upcard.
  • Hand value of 9: Double down if the dealer’s upcard is a 3, 4, 5 or 6. In any other situation, it’s best to hit.
  • Hand value of 10: If your hand value is greater than the dealer’s upcard, double down. If it’s equal to or less than the dealer’s, hit.
  • Hand value of 11: Double down.
  • Hand value of 12: Hit unless the dealer’s upcard is a 4, 5 or 6, when you should stand.
  • Hand value of between 13 and 16: Hit unless the dealer’s upcard is 6 or less, in which case you should stand.
  • Hand value of 17+: Always stand.

Again, playing with a good strategy doesn’t always guarantee you’ll win, but it can certainly improve your chances! The strategy laid out here is great for beginner players, though you should know that the house edge and optimum strategy for each hand can vary depending on the game you choose and the rules in play.

If blackjack isn’t the right game for you, why not learn how to play one of the other popular casino games in Australia?

Maddison Dwyer

Senior Writer & Queen of Cards

Maddison, a graduate from the University of Queensland with a degree in journalism, has turned her sharp analytical skills towards the casino world. Specializing in blackjack and roulette and more, she guides enthusiasts through the complexities of gambling strategies.

Her background in ethical storytelling enriches her approach, making her insights into casino gaming both trustworthy and engaging.

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