Many blackjack players are oblivious to the fact that dealer rules can affect how you play a hand. For example, some casinos require dealers to hit soft 17 (hands such as Ace and 6). While this is not as bad for the dealer as it might sound, it does increase the house edge, which will ultimately cost you money over time.
If you want to maximize your profits in blackjack, you should avoid playing at tables that make the dealer hit soft 17. Instead, look for a table where the dealer stands on all 17’s. If a dealer hits a soft 17, you’ll need to double down in order to take advantage of this situation. However, when the dealer hits a hard 17, you’ll need to stand and hope for a better result.
Fortunately, you can identify whether the dealer must hit a soft 17 by looking at the table layout. The wording on the table will usually read something like “Dealer Must Stand on All 17’s” or “Dealer Must Hit Soft 17”. When this is the case, the dealer must hit any hand with an Ace that can be counted as either 1 or 11.
Some blackjack players think that the dealer must hit a soft 17 because it will bust more often than when he or she stands. While this is true, the dealer will also have more opportunities to improve his or her hand. Therefore, this is not a good reason to change your basic strategy.
If the dealer hits a soft 17, you should double down when the hand is weak enough to do so. The average profit per dollar is 46.2 cents versus 42.8 cents when you stand and hit. On the other hand, when the dealer hits a hard 17, your losses per dollar climb to 51.3 cents versus 49.4 cents if you stand and 51.2 if you hit.
Ultimately, the best option is to always hit when you have a soft hand with an Ace. This is because the Ace can be counted as either 1 or 11, giving you the flexibility to get a high total. When you have a hard hand with an Ace, however, you can’t do this and you will bust if the next card is higher than a four. This is why it’s important to play a hand with an Ace when you have the opportunity. The flexibility a soft hand gives you is what makes it so valuable to the player. This is why you should never stand on a soft hand when the dealer has an Ace up. It will cost you more money over the long run than either hitting or doubling down.