Novice players will stand with a soft 18, against a dealer’s 9, 10 or Ace, because they figure that there are only 3 cards that will help the hand, 4 card will keep it the same and the remaining 6 cards will make it worse.
Unfortunately, though it is logically correct in that thought, it is flawed because it is only thinking in terms of one additional hit! Statistically, when you hit a soft 18, you’ll improve your hand with the first hit only 23 out of 100 times.
In that same vein, you’ll make 38 stiffs (12 thru 16), which you will continue to hit! With the continued hitting, you’ll improve your hand, to 19 or better, 10 more times out of the 38. So, you’ll improve your hand almost 33 out of 100 times.
Statistically it’s been shown that based on 100 hands, 34 times you’ll hit a hard 18, 32.5 times you’ll hit a 17 or bust, and 33.5 times you’ll hit a 19 thru 21. So, you can figure only 32.5 times out of a hundred, you’ll lose against a dealer’s 9, 10, or Ace.
If you hit a soft 18, you will improve your hand a little more often than not hitting it. It is a slightly improved chance, but by hitting a soft 18, against a dealer’s 9, 10 or Ace, your chance to win goes up more than it goes down, when you don’t.
For example: If you stand with a soft 18 against an Ace, you’ll win 5 out of 13 hands. If you hit all 13 hands and turn them into 17’s, you’ll win only 3 hands. However, if you hit and make all 19’s, you win 8 out of 13 hands. So, you’ll have more wins by taking the chance to improve your hand, than by sticking with it.
It’s been figured out that when a dealer has a 9, 10, or Ace, and has to hit a soft 17, if you stand on a soft 18, your win percentage is 39-41%. If the dealer has to stand on a soft 17, and you stand on a soft 18, your win percentage goes to 41-45%.
If you hit a soft 18, when the dealer has an 9, 10 or Ace and must hit a soft 17, your win percentage is 42-45%. If you hit a soft 18 and the dealer has a 9, 10 or Ace and must stand on a soft 17, your win percentage is 43-45.5%.
As the basic strategy charts tell you, you should hit a soft 18 against a dealer’s 9, 10 or Ace, because testing proves it to result in slightly more wins. Trust the charts and you’ll win more in the long run!