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What Are Hard and Soft Hands in Blackjack?

Recently updated on August 25th, 2021

Here to find out more about hard and soft hands in blackjack? You’re at the right place. Blackjack, like many other casino games, comes with terminology that’s unique to that particular game. And, if you are new to Blackjack 21 then hearing those terms being used during a game can be super confusing. Hard and soft totals (also called stiffies) is a typical example of blackjack terminology that’s often used but rarely understood.

Fortunately, we are here to help you with that. So, if you are new to the game of blackjack and would like to know what hard and soft totals mean, but also find out more about the differences between the two, continue reading.

Hard Hands in Blackjack

The biggest difference between hard and soft hands in blackjack is the inclusion or exclusion of an ace card and the value that it carries in that particular hand.

Hard and Soft Hands

A hard hand is one that typically doesn’t include an ace card, but in the event that it does, the ace takes the value of 1 only and cannot be regarded as an 11 due to reasons outside of the player’s control. An example of a hand without an ace card is a king & a 6 which equals a hard total of 16 since K, Q, and Jack carry a total of 10 each.

An example of a hand that does include an ace is ace, 2, 8, and 6 which equals 17. In this instance, the ace counts as 1. It cannot be counted as 11 here otherwise the hand would exceed the targeted 21.

Soft Totals in Blackjack

Hands with soft totals do include an ace card and its value is determined by the player. An example of such a hand is an ace and a 2 which can either equal 13 or 3. The choice is yours. But, soft totals can very quickly turn into hard totals if you decide to hit and end up getting the wrong cards.

Hard and Soft Hands Overview

So, which is better between the two? The better hand to us is a soft total because it offers you the flexibility to decide which value your aces take at whatever point in the game. You can also change their value whenever you like in pursuit of the best hand. You can do this until you reach 21, or at least until you get to a total nearest to it.

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