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By John Grochowski on Wednesday October 12, 2016
betting, betting-blackjack, blackjack, gaming, gaming-tips
Not all blackjack games are created equal. There’s a set of mix-and-match rules, and you’ll find different combinations in different casinos. Sometimes you’ll even find different combinations at different tables within the same casino.
One key variation comes on whether dealers hit or stand on soft 17. A soft 17 includes an Ace being counted as 11. Ace-6 is a soft 17, as are Ace-2-4, Ace-3-3, Ace-Ace-5 and others.
When the dealer hits soft 17, the house edge against a basic strategy player is about two-tenths of a percent higher than if he stands.
That brought a question from a reader, who wondered why.
“Does the dealer bust more often if he stands on soft 17?” the reader wrote. “If not, then why does the house edge increase when the dealer hits soft 17?
Dealers do not bust more often when standing on soft 17. After all, there is no risk of busting when they stand on the hand. When the dealer stands on all 17s, he busts about 29.1 percent of the time, and that increases to 29.6 if he hits soft 17.
However, a dealer who stands on soft 17 can’t improve the hand. That’s important because if a player makes a hand of 17 or better, the best the dealer can do is push. Hitting soft 17 gives the dealer the chance to make the 18, 19, 20 and 21 hands that can win on their own against a player pat hand.
This comes into play most often when the dealer’s face up card is an Ace and basic strategy players hit until they have 17 or better. The house will win when players bust, regardless of the final dealer hand. But against players still in action at the end, a dealer who stands on soft 17 can’t win and a dealer who hits soft 17 can.
If the dealer’s up card is 6 – or lower in the case of a soft 17 consisting of three or more cards – some standing hands will be 16 or less. A dealer who stands on soft 17 can beat them. But against players with two-card totals of 17 or more, the situation is the same as above: A dealer who stands on soft 17 can’t win and a dealer who hits soft 17 can.