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Hitting the Soft 17 in Blackjack

If you follow basic strategy in blackjack you should always hit a soft 17. Many people won’t do it though as they think 17 is a winning hand in blackjack.

To refresh your memory, a soft 17 is a hand that totals 17 but has an ace in it counting as 11. That means the hand can count as either 17 or 7. Basic strategy says to hit that hand every time because there is no risk of busting since you have a total of 7.

Many players want to stand on 17 because they think they have a better chance of winning. The math tells a different story as 17 is a weak hand in blackjack. A player who stands on 17 has only about a 33% chance of winning.

What happens when you hit a soft 17 in blackjack? The numbers say you will end up with that same 17 about 34% of the time. You will end up with an 18 about 11% of the time and the same 11% for 19, 20 and 21. Just about 21 % of the time you will bust. That means almost 80% of the time you are going to do no worse than you would have had you stood with that 17.

The bottom line on percentages with the soft 17 is that had you stayed you would win 33% of the time, lose 52% of the time and tie about 15% of the time. If you hit the soft 17 you win 42% of the time, lose 47% of the time and tie about 11% of the time. Winning at blackjack is all about the math and the math says to hit that soft 17 every time.

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