A few weeks ago, I went to a casino and found out something interesting…. which goes to prove that you MUST make sure that you know the rules when you sit down to play.
As if they don’t make enough money, casinos have been making subtle changes to the games, which makes them much less player-friendly.
For instance the rule about whether a dealer stands or hits. For many years, dealers were required to stand on all 17s, and hit on 16 or less. Nowadays, many casinos have changed this so that the dealer must hit their soft 17. (A soft 17 is any hand that contains an Ace counted as 11. If the dealer has an Ace-6, she must hit.
Look, this is a big deal.
Although the dealer busts more often when she has to hit soft 17, the rest of the time she often will get a hand that is greater than 17 and will beat you. Overall, this rule change increases the casino edge over players by 0.2 percent. It also requires a change in playing strategy compared.
The changes in playing strategy for an h17 game (meaning dealer must hit soft 17) for a typical 6-deck game are:
Double down an 11 against a dealer Ace.
Double down on soft 19 against a dealer 6 upcard.
Double down on soft 17 against a dealer 2 upcard.
So listen: Ask the dealer before you sit down.
Many casinos have tables with the s17 rule (dealers stand on soft 17), and others with h17 (hit soft 17) and they aren’t going to tell you which is better.
Given a choice, you are much better off playing blackjack where the dealer stands on soft 17 (s17 game), so it’s best to scout the tables before you sit down and play.