soft 17 and hard 17 blackjack rules dealer gameplay effects

How Soft 17 and Hard 17 Dealer Rules Affect Blackjack Gameplay

Staff Writer Tips & Tutorials 272

Every blackjack variant has its own set of rules, which dramatically impacts gameplay, just like Soft 17 and Hard 17 rules do. But what is Soft 17 blackjack? What does stand on hard 17 mean?

The following Best Casinos guide aims to explain the Hard and Soft 17 blackjack dealer rules and show how they affect every round of 21. We’ll explain what they are, how they influence rounds and provide sound Soft 17 blackjack strategies (and hard 17 too) to help you boost proficiency. There’s also a list of the best Soft 17 blackjack games for you.

What Is a Soft 17 Blackjack Rule?

Before we explain what using the Soft 17 rules does to the round, we must explain what Soft 17 is.

Soft 17 is a soft hand in blackjack containing an Ace and a 6 (or a pair of 3s). 

Every hand with an Ace is considered a soft hand, because Ace can be valued either 1 or 11.

The entire deal with this hand is that it affects gameplay in terms of strategy. Players with a soft hand of 17 always choose to hit, i.e., ask for an additional card. This increases their chances of reaching 21 (or hitting 21 straight).

However, the problem arises when the dealer has the same card combination. As we all want to beat the house, going over the dealer’s hand is a requirement to beat blackjack. If players hit on soft 17, they increase their winning chances. The same applies to the dealer. Ideally, the croupier should stand on soft 17 because this brings optimal odds to the punter. But this does not always happen, at least not in every variant.

A Soft 17 rule, also styled as S17, is a rule by which the dealer hits on the soft 17 hand.

This rule greatly impacts the course of the round, and you will see in a moment how.

What Is a Hard 17 in Blackjack?

If a soft 17 hand is a hand containing an Ace, then a hard hand would be one without an Ace.

More specifically, a hard 17 hand is a hand of 10 and 7 (or 8-9, or any combination which results in a 17 sans Ace).

When a player has a hard 17 hand, the best strategy is to stand. The total of 17 is already high and drawing an additional hand can easily turn out to be a high-value card which leads to a bust.

The same goes for the dealer.

Dealers always stand on one hand, totalling 17 – either hard or soft. The difference between these two hands is vast, as one gives the dealer an advantage, and one favours the player. If the dealer stands on hard 17 (and hits on soft), that is the Soft 17 Rule – or S17. If he stands on soft 17 (and hard too), that is the Hard 17 Rule or H17.

How S17 and H17 Affect Gameplay

Dealers are never allowed to hit if they have a hand over 17 (or hard 17). However, certain tables allow them to hit if they have a soft hand with an Ace; we’ve established that. But how does that affect the round and your session?

Well, if the S17 rule is at play, the dealer has higher chances of drawing a card that can bring it closer to 21. The same applies to the player. That is why experts advise players to always hit on their soft 17 blackjack hands.

On the other hand, when the dealer stays on his Ace-containing soft blackjack hand, he diminishes its chances of beating the player. And that is why the H17 rule is better for punters.

Therefore, a change in the rules either boosts the house edge or pushes it down.

It is important to note that S17 tables might seem like a bad bargain for the punters, but they are not necessarily. If you play at single or double deck blackjack tables, the edge is balanced out. As you know, single and double deck blackjack games have lower house advantages than their six or 8-deck counterparts. Hence, if you play at these tables and use an S17 rule, you get a better edge than you would at an 8-deck blackjack with S17.

Soft 17 Blackjack Strategy

An important part of any player’s experience is strategy. That is especially important for blackjack fans.

And every single rule change in the game affects the flow of the round, making strategy the crucial element to tie everything in.

Here are the crucial steps to take when you play at soft 17 blackjack tables.

  • When you get a soft 17 hand, always hit.
  • Never hit if you have a hard 17.
  • If you have a soft 17 and the dealer has 2,4,6,7,8 or 9 – hit.
  • Double down against dealer’s 3 and 5.
  • Double down if you have 11 and the dealer holds an Ace.
  • In single-deck games, hit soft 18 against dealer’s Ace.
  • For double deck blackjack, double down soft 14 if the dealer has 4.
  • Double down soft 18 and soft 19 if the dealer has 2 and 6, respectively.

Bear in mind that the best setting for the S17 rule in blackjack is a table with 1 or 2 decks. Otherwise, you are signing up for failure as six and eight decks bring unfavourable odds for players.

Hard 17 Blackjack Strategy

The H17 rule states the dealer will stand on all 17s. That’s great as you are allowed to use any move you want, and the dealer will have to stay put. So, what to do when the dealer stands on soft 17?

  • If you have a soft 13, 14, 15, 16, or 17, and the dealer has 5 or 6 – double down.
  • Double down if you have soft 15 or 16 and the dealer has 4.
  • Double down if you have a soft 17 against the dealer’s 3.
  • Split pairs of 8 and Aces.
  • Stand on a pair of 9 if the dealer has 7, 10, or Ace, otherwise split.
  • Double down on soft 18 against dealer’s hand of 3-6.
  • Stand on soft 19.
  • If you are not allowed to double down, hit.

Tables using the H17 rule – where the dealer stands on soft 17 – are considered more player-friendly than their counterparts. Of course, our recommendation is to find double-deck blackjack tables and play there as they have better odds than 6 or 8 deck blackjack games.

The Best Blackjack Games with H17 Dealer Rules

Now that you know what S17 and H17 rules do to the round, it’s time to find games to test the knowledge.

BestCasinos.com prepared three top blackjack games where dealers stand on soft 17 (or all 17).

All Bets Blackjack

Playtech’s All Bets Blackjack is a live dealer table featuring six exciting side bets. It is also a table which allows you to wager up to €2,500 per round – a perfect able for high rollers! The dealer stands on all 17s.

Play all Bets Blackjack at William Hill!

Unlimited 21 Blackjack Auto Split

Ezugi is a master of live dealer games. Evolution’s sister company is behind some of the best live casino tables in the industry, including the Unlimited 21 Blackjack Auto Split. Its main features are the Auto Split option and the unlimited number of players. The dealer always stands on 17.

Play Unlimited 21 Blackjack Auto Split at 1xBet!

European Blackjack Gold

The only RNG table on our list, European Blackjack Gold, gives you the chance to play for free and test the game before playing for real money. Microgaming’s golden table is a popular choice for experienced players and amateurs alike.

Play European Blackjack Gold at Videoslots Casino!

Verdict

A simple decision to play blackjack for real money is a product of hours of analysing variants and blackjack rules. Don’t be fooled into thinking that pros just know which table to choose – they’ve tried countless variants and games to pick the one which suits them the best.

In this article, you’ve seen how even the slightest rule change – the S17 and H17 – affects gameplay. Both soft 17 and hard 17 dealer rules have their advantages, but H17 is more player oriented than S17.  But at the end of the day, the choice between S17 and H17 is yours.

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Best Casinos team consists of online casino experts dedicated to spreading their knowledge and experience to a wider audience, all in effort to help even the most inexperienced players gain their footing in this exciting industry.

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