By Henry Tamburin Ph.D

So what’s the big deal with a soft 17? It’s that most blackjack players frequently misplay this hand. In fact, below are five common mistakes made by players; but first, I want to be sure you understand what is meant by a “soft 17” hand.

In the game of blackjack, hands that contain an ace that can be counted as 11 are known as soft hands. For example, an ace-5 is a soft 16 and a 3-ace-5 is a soft 19. The basic playing strategy for, say, ace-6 is much different than it is for, say, a 10-7. The latter is known as a hard 17 because it doesn’t contain an ace counted as 11. Even though both hands total 17, the basic playing strategy for a soft 17 is different than a hard 17 because you can never bust a soft 17 with a one-card draw (not so with a hard 17).

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