Most blackjack players are oblivious to whether the dealer stands or hits on soft 17. Dealer stands on soft 17 was the standard rule in years past, but a growing number of casinos now require the dealer to hit on soft 17 (hands like Ace, 6). Not only do most players fail to recognize the difference, some believe that the hit on soft 17 rule works in their favor since the dealer will bust more often. Yes, the dealer will bust more often, but the dealer also has the opportunity to improve on a weak total of 17. The reality is the dealer will improve his hand often enough that it will more than offset the increase in dealer busts. It’s a sinking feeling when you have 19 or 20 and then dealer hits on a soft 17 and pulls 21 to wipe out the table.
Below are the dealer outcome probabilities for a 6-deck shoe for stand soft 17 versus hit soft 17.*
18 19 20 21 Bust
Stand Soft 17 14.62% 14.04 18.85% 7.65% 29.60%
Hit Soft 17 14.82% 14.24 19.06% 7.86% 30.00%
As you can see, when the dealer hits soft 17 rule is in effect there is a greater probability the dealer will draw to 18, 19, 20, or 21. The net result of the hit soft 17 rule is that it adds .22% to the house edge. All else being equal your odds are better when the dealer stands on soft 17.
* Probabilities rounded to the nearest one hundredth of a percent. With the dealer stands on soft 17 rule, the probability of the dealer drawing to 17 is 15.25%. With the dealer hits soft 17 rule, the probability of the dealer drawing to a hard 17 is 14.02%.