Soft 17 vs Hard 17 in Blackjack: What’s the Difference?

soft 17 vs hard 17 blackjack

1 minute

Last Updated: February 21, 2024

In blackjack, a player is said to have a “soft 17” hand if the cards he has include an Ace (valued at 11) and additional card(s) that bring the total value of his hands to 17. For instance, a hand with an Ace plus a 6 card is a soft 17. Similarly, a hand with an Ace plus 4 and 2 cards is also a soft 17. 

What makes the hand soft or hard is the presence (or absence) of the Ace card. The term “soft 17” is used because the total value of the player’s hand is variable. Since the Ace can be valued as 1 or 11 in blackjack, the total hand can be either 17 or 7. 

Conversely, a hard 17 hand in blackjack means the cards sum up to 17 without an ace card (or with an ace card already valued at one. The reason why you need to understand a soft 17 vs hard 17 blackjack is because having a soft or hard card can influence your blackjack strategy. For instance, a player can choose to hit if he has a soft 17 because the risk of exceeding 21 is very low. If the total after hitting exceeds 21, he simply converts the ace into a 1. This is not possible if you have a hard 17, so it’s often better to stand instead. 

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