Blackjack, also known as 21 is the number one played card game across land based casinos and online. With more than 20 mainstream versions and close to double that in home game varieties, its no wonder the game is as popular as it is. Blackjack originated more than 100 years ago, however it was Edward O Thorp who took the game to the next level by creating a system, called card counting and would later publish his research that would lead to blackjack becoming one of the top play casino games.
This article focuses on the traditional version of blackjack which can be played with one, two, four, six or eight decks of 52 playing cards. If you’re an experienced blackjack player you may want to check out our article on how to play Vegas Strip blackjack or how to play Chinese blackjack.
How to Play Blackjack - The Deal
To begin the game each player needs to place his wager on the table. The dealer will deal each player two cards. If the dealer is using one or two decks, the cards can be dealt by hand, however if the dealer is using three or more decks, a shoe is required.
How to Play Blackjack - Dealer & Player Options
Once the deal is complete, players will have the option to purchase insurance if the dealer is showing an Ace up. If not, each player will proceed by taking their turn with how they want to play their hand. Players have three options available to them depending on what their two cards are. The first is to hit, which means take another card. The next is to stand, which means no more cards are needed and the hand will be played as is. If the player can choose to double-down, which means they will place another wager on the table equal to the initial bet and will take one more card face down. If a player doubles down, the down card is the last card they are able to receive.
In the traditional version of blackjack, players can choose to split. Splitting is only allowed when a player receives two cards of the same rank and when you split your hand your required to bet the same amount on the second hand as you did the first. The cards will be split into two hands and you will now play for both by hitting, standing, or doubling down. If you double down after a split, your require to place a bet equal to the amount of your original bet for one or both of your hands.
Once each player has had their turn to play their cards, the dealer will follow by playing his hand. Standard rules require the dealer to hit on a soft 17 and stay on a hard 17. A hard hand is a hand that doesn’t hold an Ace (the Ace can only have one value and that‘s 1). This means that a soft hand would be have an Ace ( the value of the Ace can change from 1 or 11). Example A - 6 - 10
Once the dealer has completed his hand, the cards are turned over. The object of the game is to beat the dealer by having a hand value closest to 21. If you lose, the dealer takes your bets. If your hand beats the dealer’s, the dealer will pay you 1:1. If you have a natural blackjack, meaning a 10 value card and an Ace within your first two cards, you’ll receive 3:2 on your initial bet. If you have 21 using three or more card, you will be paid 2:1 on your initial bet. If a player and dealer have the same count, it’s considered a push and the dealer will return the bet back to the player. If either you or the dealer bust, that particular hand is lost and either the dealer pays all players should he bust, or your bets are lost to the dealer should you bust.
How to Play Blackjack - Blackjack Card Values
Blackjack uses a point system for determining a player/dealer hands. Cards ranked from 10 - K have a point value of 10 whereas cards ranked 2 - 9 hold face value. Aces can be used as either 1 or 11 in this version and it’s up to the player to decide how to use the Ace.
Surrendering in Blackjack
Some casinos will give you the option to surrender which means you forfeit your hand and take back half a bet. This option is usually given when the first two cards are dealt but only after the dealer has looked at his hand for a blackjack. The surrender option is often abused by players and more often than not, players will surrender more hands than needed when the option has been made available to them. Not all forms of blackjack allow players to surrender, so be sure to double check the rules before playing just any blackjack game.
By playing blackjack using the correct strategy for that particular version you can reduce the casino house edge to less than one percent making blackjack one of the better casino games to play.
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