Whether or not a dealer can hit or stand on a soft 17 seems inconsequential to the unknowing blackjack player. But this is why they are unknowing blackjack players, and this is why I am going to explain why that seemingly little rule makes a big difference when it comes to a player’s blackjack odds.
In the most basic and most common form of blackjack, the dealer must stand on all 17s regardless of whether or not an Ace is a part of the dealer’s hand. But here and there players will find blackjack games or blackjack variations that allow the dealer to hit a soft 17, meaning a 17 with an Ace in it.
Allowing the dealer to hit a soft 17 is a problem despite that it does not sound like one. Many players do not think it will hurt them, or that the dealer is likely to bust. This is because they are hung up on the notion of the 17. But if a dealer is allowed to hit a soft 17, the Ace that starts as an 11 is reduced to a 1 and the dealer’s new hand total is 7. This leaves them in a prime position to rebuild a strong hand—much like how a player would.
Because the dealer has a second shot at rebuilding his hand he has an increased shot at beating your hand, especially if you are standing on a hard 17 or on a stiff hand. Naturally it follows that if the dealer’s odd increase, the player’s decreases. How much is that decrease? A player’s blackjack odds will decrease by 0.22% just on that one rule alone.
Because of the 0.22% hit to a player’s odds, blackjack games and blackjack variations that allow the dealer to hit a soft 17 should be avoided since there really is not any way for the player to combat that rule