Basic Blackjack strategy dictates that a player should always stand when dealt an 18, but there is a little more to it than that. Read on for a detailed analysis of this tricky little Blackjack hand.

For the novice player, new to the Blackjack tables, adhering firmly to basic strategy is recommended. Once you become a little more savvy and familiar with the game, then you can start looking to further reduce the casino’s edge and one particular Blackjack hand that presents several opportunities to do so, is 18.

It would be madness to hit a hard 18, but soft 18 is a definite contender for a little bit of extra thought. Let’s start with a soft 18 made up of A-7.

When facing a 9, T, J, Q, K or A, you should be looking to hit. This is a losing situation to be in long term, but your expected losses are smaller when hitting, than with any other option.

When facing an 8, 7 or 2, your optimal strategy is to stand. This is marginally more profitable than any other option.

Against a 3 through a 6, you should be looking to double down with your soft 18. It is a commonly observed error to stand in this situation and although that play will still make you profit in the long run, doubling down is actually a more profitable long term option. A $10 bettor can make as much as $1.02 extra by doubling in that spot.

With a hand like A-3-4, your option to double down is obviously removed, but hitting is still the optimal strategy.

If your 18 is comprised of a pair of nines, you have even more possibilities. Against a 2 through to a 6, you should split those nines, as you’re in great shape either way, but splitting allows you to get in great shape twice!

Against the dealer’s 7, you should always stand, as an 18 makes more money than two hands of 9.

Against an 8, you should be splitting, as both a 9 and an 18 are 55% favourites against an 8, but splitting allows you to play two 55% shots. Splitting is the right play against a 9 too, as 18 is a 3/2 underdog against a 9, whereas a 9 against a 9 is almost even money.

In summary then, holding 18 is not going to make you any long term profit at the Blackjack tables, but there are lots of different ways to play the hand that can reduce the house edge over time and that are an improvement on basic Blackjack strategy.

Best of luck at the casino!