Apr

25

2018

# Stand vs Hit vs Double Down on Soft 17 in Blackjack

Most blackjack players understand it’s best to hit soft 17 rather than stand.

But many won’t go the next step and double down, as underlined by a recent email that said, “I can’t bring myself to double down on soft 17. Basic strategy cards tell me to double when the dealer shows 3, 4 5 or 6. I can’t pull the trigger. It just feels right to me to stand on 17.

“How much am I costing myself?”

Seventeen is not as strong a starting hand as some players think it is. It’s a winning hand only if the dealer busts. If the dealer makes a standing hand, your 17 pushes a dealer 17 or loses to a dealer 18 through 21. And with soft 17, you can’t bust with a one-card hit. You can always count that Ace as 1 instead of 11.

As for the specifics of soft doubling, let’s look at average results in a six-deck game in which dealer hits soft 17 and you start with Ace-6.

**Dealer up card is 3: If you double down, your average profit is 5.7 cents per \$1 of your original bet. If you hit, the profit is 2.9 cents. But if you stand, the hand is negative with an average loss of 11.6 cents per \$1.

**Dealer up card is 4: Double down, 12.3-cent average profit; hit, 6.2-cent profit; stand, 7.6-cent loss.

**Dealer up card is 5: Double down, 19.7-cent average profit; hit, 9.9-cent profit; stand, 3.8-cent loss.

**Dealer up card is 6: Double down, 25.2-cent average profit; hit, 12.6-cent profit; stand, 0.5-cent loss.

As the dealer up card increases in value, your average profit per \$1 in original wager increases if you double or hit, and your average loss decreases if you stand. But in each case, you have the edge if you hit or double and you give an edge to the house if you stand.

If the dealer has a 2, or a 7 or higher, the best play is to hit rather than double. But with soft 17, it’s never the best move to stand.