25 Mar

Beast Mode Blackjack: Proper Soft 19 Strategy

How to Play Soft 19 in Blackjack: Strategy for All Deck Sizes and Dealer RulesHow to Play Soft 19 in Blackjack: Proper strategy for all deck sizes and dealer 17 rules.

Casual players make all sorts of mistakes in blackjack. If you’re just playing for entertainment value, there’s nothing wrong with that. For strategists, one of the most common mistakes is made when a player is dealt a soft 19.

A soft 19 is any hand that totals 19 points, with an Ace that is valued at 11. A few examples would be A+8, A+3+5, A+2+2+4; you get the idea. A hand of 10+8+A would be a hard 19, not a soft 19, since the Ace is valued at 1. In general, a hard 19 should almost never be messed with. Under most circumstances, you’d stand on that hand in a heartbeat. But when dealt a soft 19, you should take a brief moment to reconsider.

How to Play Soft 19 in Blackjack

A few quick notes before we get started (or scroll down to see the strategy charts now).

First, the proper strategy for playing soft 19 will vary by the rules and conditions of the game. The impact of certain rules can be enough to shift circumstantial probabilities in one direction or another. Most important will be the number of decks in use, and whether the dealer is required to Hit (H-17) or Stand (S-17) on a Soft 17.

When the dealer hits soft 17, it increases the house’s chance of busting by 3.4%. Therefore it’s more appropriate to double down when the dealer is showing 6 in a H-17 game. In a S-17 game, if there’s a single deck in use, it increases the dealer’s bust rate by about half a percent, likewise increasing the potential for doubling down.

Next up, you will have three options when dealt a natural two-card Soft 19:

  • Stand
  • Hit
  • Double Down

We can eliminate the Hit option right now. Under no circumstance should you choose to Hit. Proper strategy will either call for Stand on the current total, or Double Down for added value. Long story short, if it’s worth taking another card, it’s worth doubling the bet.

When you have a Soft 19 made up of three cards or more, the rules generally don’t allow you to Double Down. Therefore, if the strategy charts below tell you to Double, but the rules don’t allow it (too may cards), Stand instead. As I said, never straight-up Hit a Soft 19.

  • D = Double if allowed, otherwise Stand
  • S = Stand

Soft 19 Strategy – Single-Deck Blackjack, S-17 or H-17

Dealer’s Up-Card

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
A
19
S
S
S
S
D
S
S
S
S
S

Soft 19 Strategy – 2-8 Deck Blackjack, S-17

Dealer’s Up-Card

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
A
19
S
S
S
S
S
S
S
S
S
S

Soft 19 Strategy – 2-8 Deck Blackjack, H-17

Dealer’s Up-Card

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
A
19
S
S
S
S
D
S
S
S
S
S

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