An Introduction to Hard and Soft Blackjack Hands

The game of blackjacks is finally about the different hands, and there are two basic types of hands – hard and soft hands. You may be asking yourself a number of questions, from the elementary (‘so what are blackjack hands?’, what are the hard and soft blackjack hands’?) to other questions (‘how do they differ from each other?’).

Often when you play blackjack, you will come across the usage of the term ‘hand’, and variations, such as ‘hard hand’ and ‘soft hand’. Before getting into what are hard and soft blackjack hands, you must understand that the key to both these types of hands is the ace.

Knowing about hard and soft hands is important because only then will you be able to formulate the proper strategy when you play your hand. This is apart from the fact that the concept of soft and hard hands also influences the dealer’s game, regarding when to hit or stand, for instance.

Hard and Soft Hands – What is a Soft Blackjack Hand?

As mentioned earlier in this article, the key to both the hard and soft blackjack hands is the ace. So what is a soft blackjack hand? The soft blackjack hand is basically a hand that has an ace. In the soft blackjack hand, the ace has a value of 11. These are the two key elements in the soft blackjack hand – the presence of the ace and its attached value. There is one other thing about the soft hand that you will learn next.

When you compare the hard and soft blackjack hands, the soft hand gives you an advantage in terms of card options. You can add a third card to a soft hand and still be confident of not going bust. Take a look at the following example to understand this better.

Suppose you have a soft hand comprising an ace, which counts as an 11, and a 6 (this hand is also called the ‘soft 17’). Normally, if you now drew a card that brought your total count higher than 21, say a 5, you would lose. However, in the case of the soft blackjack hand this is not the case. In such a scenario, the ace would now count as just 1 and you are safe!

Hard and Soft Hands – The Hard Blackjack Hand

A hard blackjack hand differs from a soft hand in two aspects primarily. First of all, a hard hand does not necessarily need to have an ace; it may have one, but it is okay even if it doesn’t have one. The second point of difference is in the value of the ace – the hard hand ace has a value of just 1, and that value is inflexible, unlike in the soft hand.

Basically, between the hard and soft blackjack hands, it is the flexibility of the soft hand that gives it an edge over the hard hand even when it comes to the strategy charts.