In the game of blackjack, an ace is a most amazing card. It can count as either a 1 or an 11, whichever will be more beneficial. It is this magical power of the ace that underlies the soft 17concept of hard and soft blackjack hands.
A “hard hand” is a blackjack hand with no ace, or with an ace that must count as 1. A blackjack hand comprising an ace, a 7, and a 9 is a “hard 17.” Notice that the ace must count as 1 in this hand; if it counted as 11, the hand would “bust” (i.e., go over 21).
A “soft hand” is a hand with an ace that counts as 11. A hand comprising an ace and a 6 is a “soft 1soft 17 7.”
The beautiful thing about a soft hand is that you can always add another card to a soft hand without fear of busting. Suppose you have a soft 17soft 17, and you draw a 5. Immediately you think: “Uh-oh! 17 plus 5 makes 22! I’m busted!” But actually, you have nothing to worry about. In that situation, the ace magically transforms itself from an 11 to a 1 and you hand is saved. That is why it is so cool to have a soft hand when playing blackjack.