How to Play a Soft 18 in Blackjack?

Last modified: August 12, 2019

There are often misplayed hands in blackjack when players try to play the blackjack soft 18. Players often misplay hard 18 confusing it for soft 18. The reason being that the hand most total 18, however, it must contain an ACE and a 7 or 5, and 2 cards. Note, ACE counts as 11.

Soft 18 is classified that way because it differs from other blackjack strategies of playing. Playing a total hand of 18 doesn’t always count as a soft 18. For example, playing 10-8 is a hard 18. Another example is playing a whole hand of 18, whereby the ACE counts as a 1 as in 5-9-A-3. In a case where you’ve soft 18, you have only three playing options which you have to choose carefully:

  • Double down
  • Hit
  • Stand

Which pick would be the best option of the three variables?

When playing blackjack, to be able to find out for sure which option would be the best to pick when you’ve soft 18 depends on the following variables:

  • Whether or not the soft 18 hand you’re dealt has two or more than two cards
  • The number of decks of cards you’re up against also matters
  • The rules of the game matters; whether or not the rule specify that the dealer must hit soft 17 or the dealer most stand soft 17

The basic strategy for playing Blackjack Soft 18

Under this basic strategy for playing the required soft hands, we’d be looking at the most straightforward blackjack strategy for playing a soft 18 in online casinos and brick and mortar casinos.

Double Deck and Multiple Deck Games

In a double-deck and multiple deck game, when the dealer stands on soft 17, you’re to do the following:

  • If the dealer’s upwards is either a 3, 4, 5, or 6, then you should double down on soft 18,
  • Another scenario is when the dealer upwards is either a 2, 7 or 8; you’re advised to stand on soft 18,
  • If the case is that the dealer’s upcards is either a 9, 10, or ACE, you’re encouraged to hit soft 18. (Note, in multi cards, there are some exceptional cases in a double-deck where choosing hit wouldn’t be the best strategy)
  • Lastly, if the rule specifies that the dealer must hit soft 17, then in such cases we advise you double down on soft 18 against the dealer 2-upcards.

Single Deck Games

In a single deck game, when the dealer stands on soft 17, you’re to do the following:

  • If the dealer’s upcard is either a 3, 4, 5, or 6, we advise that you double down on soft 18
  • In another scenario, if the dealer’s upcard is either a 2, 7, 8, or ACE, we advise you to stand on soft 18
  • Again, if the dealer’s upcard is either a 9 or 10, we recommend that you hit on soft 18
  • Lastly, if the rule clearly says the dealer must hit soft 17, then we advise that you choose hit against the dealer’s ACE rather than you choosing stand

What is the Reason for this Basic Strategy for Playing Blackjack Soft 18?

When you follow the above basic strategy, you’d lose less or win more than when you compare it with another substitute strategy. For instance, consider soft 18 against a dealers upcard of 10 in a six-deck game with soft 17. Let’s assume tied hands are not a part; the following outcome is what you can expect:

  • You have a 59% chance of losing the hand and a 41% chance of winning the hand if you stand,
  • More so, you will have a 57% chance of losing the hand and a 43% chance of winning if you hit.

If you notice in the, regardless of what you decide to choose you are losing 2% more hands and winning 2% more hands. That means that you’re having a 4% net gain when you hit or stand against a dealer soft 18.

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