Blackjack is essentially a game of two parts, each requiring a strategy of its own. There are hard hands, where the basic blackjack strategy is a reliable reference point. Then there are soft hands… and that is where things can quickly go awry at an online casino.
Enhancing Skills Pays Dividends at the Online Casino
One of the standout features of blackjack is its learnability. We don’t mean learnability in the terms of having an intuitive understanding of how to play the game – we mean it more in the context of skills enhancement. When you learn specific skills, you really can make a profit when you play blackjack online at Springbok Casino.
Be Cognisant About the Make-Up of the Hand
You have undoubtedly been told that the basic blackjack strategy is the be all and end all of blackjack. It is the gospel of the gambling bible and one that you should follow word and verse. That may well be the case but there is an important element that is often overlooked – and it has to do with the make-up of the hand.
The Role of the Ace
The one glaring anomaly in blackjack refers to the role of the ace. In the online casino games based on 21, the ace can count as 1 or 11. It is both the highest and lowest card in the game. That obviously provides added flexibility, but with it, a fair bit of confusion too.
Soft versus Hard Hands in Online Blackjack
In order to differentiate between hands with aces and those without, pundits have come up with two terms – soft hands and hard hands, respectively. Soft hands are hands that cannot go bust with one card to the draw. Hard hands can. Different approaches in play are consequently required, despite the fact the hand totals are precisely the same.
Examples of Soft Hands
To elucidate our point, here are few examples of two-card soft hands counting the ace as 11:
A + 5 - soft 16
A + 4 - soft 15
A + 3 – soft 14
A + 2 – soft 13
Examples of Hard Hands
Here are a few of the possible two-card hard hands of the equivalent values:
10 + 6 – hard 16
7 + 8 – hard 15
7 + 7 – hard 14
4 + 9 – hard 13
The reason why we are highlighting two-card over three-card hands is simply because of the double down rule.
The Double Down Rule in RTG Blackjack
At Springbok Casino, we feature online casino games developed by Real Time Gaming (RTG), one of which is Blackjack. In our version of blackjack – and in most of the variations too – players are permitted to double down on any two cards in the initial deal.
Now back to the mistakes players tend to make when they play Blackjack online at Springbok Casino.
Composition, Not Hand Value Counts
Rather than assessing the composition of the hand first, inexperienced players at an online casino are inclined to base their decisions on the hand value. On a total of 16, for example, they automatically stand on the dealer’s 2 to 6 – and hit when the dealer shows 7 through to ace.
That may well be the correct strategy for hard 16… but not for the soft hand. It is a recipe for disaster that applies to all the hard over soft hands – and one that dictates the probability of winning any soft hand is close to zero.
Tips for Playing the Soft Hands in Online Blackjack
What is the best way to play soft 16 in online casino blackjack? That is easy. You hit when the dealer’s up card is 2, 3, 7 and up and double down on 4, 5 and 6!
Refer to the Mid-Section of the Strategy Chart
What is really fascinating is this information is available on the basic blackjack strategy chart. The soft hand data relating to the ace is listed below the conventional hard totals; the standard numerals we are all used to. The eye and the brain obviously fixate on the top end of the online blackjack strategy chart, rather than on the mid-section.
As you probably do not have a basic blackjack strategy chart at your immediate disposal, here is a snapshot of the soft hand strategy in online blackjack.
Stand on the Obvious Winners
The first golden rule to remember is you only occasionally stand on soft hands. The hands we are referring to are obvious winners, or as to close to winners as they can be. What soft totals do you stand on? How about soft 19, 20 and 21? Yup, you’ve got it.
Best Blackjack Strategy for Soft 18
That said, there are occasions when you do stand on soft 18 – and that is when the dealer’s up card is 2, 7 or 8. When the dealer shows 9, 10 or ace, you hit and you double down on the dealer’s 3, 4, 5 or 6.
How to play Soft 17 Through Soft 13 at an Online Casino
These are the hands that are most likely to lose unless of course the dealer busts. Even though the chances of winning are slim, here’s how the pros play soft-hand blackjack at Springbok Casino:
- Double down on soft 17 when the dealer shows 3
- Double down on soft 15, 15 and 17 when the dealer’s up card is 4
- Double down on soft 13 through 17 when the dealer has 5 or 6
- Hit the rest of the time
Play the Three-Card Soft Hands Differently
The second golden rule is you have to adopt a completely different online casino strategy when you play three-card soft hands. As an example, you would hit, rather than double down, on a three-card soft 18 when the dealer shows 4, 5 or 6. You would also hit on soft 17, notwithstanding what the dealer is showing.
Use the Basic Blackjack Strategy Chart as a Guiding Light
It is vitally important to remember that the basic blackjack strategy takes both hard and soft hands into account. As such, it is the best possible tool to have at your disposal when you gamble on Blackjack at our online casino.
The beauty of an online casino is there is no one monitoring your every move. Provided you are not doing something illegal, like attempting to influence the randomness of an online casino game’s outcome (good luck with that!) you can print out the basic blackjack strategy chart and refer to it in-play. That’s how the smart fellas play Blackjack online at Springbok Casino!