Many players from around the world prefer blackjack to other forms of gambling for a few reasons: first, it is possible to equal or even beat the house odds, second, it gives the player more control than in games like roulette or when playing a slot machine. The origins of blackjack are a mystery. Some believe it is a French invention from the 1700s, as it is known as “vingt-et-un” (“twenty-one”) in that country. In North America, the game had been around for about 200 years. The game derives its name from the extra payout players received for drawing a Jack of Spades and Ace of Spades as their first cards. Combine the black suit ‘spades’ with the Jack and you’ve got “Blackjack”!
The rules of this game are very simple and are easy to figure out – the trick is in learning the right strategy for you to increase your odds of winning. The game uses a standard deck of playing cards and pits players (up to seven at many tables) against the dealer.
CARD VALUES IN BLACKJACK
|King, Queen, Jack, 10||10 points|
|2-9||Face value (2-9 points)|
|Aces||11 or 1 point(s)|
Since the goal of blackjack is to reach a total of 21 points without going over, the first thing you need to learn is the point system. In practical terms, the player is trying to get closer to 21 than the dealer, without going over. Go over and it’s called a ‘bust’ – you lose automatically. Should you and the dealer tie, no one wins and it’s called a ‘push’.
Get a natural blackjack (first two cards total 21) and you’ll win one and a half times your wager. From the table above you’ll note that means the player must have one Ace and one ten-value card. Blackjack beats any hand, even if the dealer hits three cards that add up to 21 you still win the hand.
|Normal win||1 to 1|
|Insurance bet||2 to 1|
|Blackjack||3 to 2|
Losing hands forfeit the amount of the original bet Gameplay proceeds as follows:
A) Up to seven players sit at a blackjack table at once. Each player makes a wager and is dealt two cards, face down. The dealer also receives two cards, one face up and the second one face down (AKA the ‘hole card’)
B) Looking at their cards, players decide to ‘hit’ (draw another card) in order to increase their hand values, or ‘stand’ and hope others will bust. In theory, players may hit as much as they want, but wise players know when to stand. If you draw an ace, you choose whether it counts as a 1 or as 11 points.
C) After everyone has chosen to ‘stand’, the dealer reveals the value of his hidden card. Dealers are constrained to hitting until their hand reaches 17 or greater. Once it gets into that range the dealer may no longer hit and must stand pat. This raises the possibility of dealer busts – and everyone else wins when that happens if they haven’t busted themselves. Should the dealer avoid going over 21, the hand closest to 21 wins?
D) To see the value of your winning hand, check the table above.
BLACKJACK PLAY OPTIONS:
Should you receive two identical cards at the original deal, you have the option of splitting them into two separate hands and placing a second bet the same as the first. Play then proceeds as normal for each hand. The only exception is if you draw two Aces – in which case you can only draw one card to go with each. Split Aces cannot achieve a true Blackjack, even if they reach 21. You may split any two 10-value cards, but realistically this would mean splitting up a hand of 20, and this generally not a good idea. Aces and 8s are the best hands to split, and it’s often possible, depending on casino rules, to re-split a hand if another identical card is dealt. You’ll have three hands to play them, good luck!
Think your luck is in? Then the double is for you. After your initial two cards are dealt, you have the option to double and receive just ONE more card to beat the dealer. The amount of your original bet becomes doubled – this is also called ‘doubling down’. The best time to double is if your original hand equals 11 as the most likely card to get in a deck is a 10-value card (thus giving you 21 total.) Casino rules for doubling vary from site to site. For example, you may or may not be allowed to double after splitting – check the site rules before you play for details.
The Insurance bet is there as protection for when you anticipate a dealer blackjack. Choose ‘Insurance’ and you’ll place and additional bet equal to half of your original. If the dealer does indeed come up with a blackjack, you’ll win 2 to 1 on your bet. If the dealer doesn’t show blackjack, you lose your insurance bet.
GLOSSARY OF BLACKJACK TERMS
BLACKJACK: An Ace and any 10-point value card (10, Q, K) equals 21.
BUST: Drawing additional cards to bring your hand over 21 – automatically losing the hand.
DRAW: See ‘Hit’
HARD TOTAL: A hand without Aces or where the Ace is counted as 1 point, e.g. a nine-ten combo is a ‘hard 19”.
HIT: Asking for an additional card for your hand to try and get closer to or equal to 21.
INSURANCE: Betting an extra half of your original wager against the possibility of dealer blackjack.
NATURAL: Getting an Ace and a 10-value card right of the deal for a Blackjack.
PUSH: Tie between the player and the dealer. The original bet is returned to the player.
SOFT TOTAL: A hand containing an Ace that’s being used as 11 points.
STAND: To indicate that you wish to keep your hand just as it is; to receive no more cards.
STIFF: A stiff hand only needs one more card to bust. Hitting a stiff hand (e.g. any 12-16 combination) may cause you to bust.
SURRENDER: Forfeiting half your original bet to forego playing against the dealer’s hand. The dealer takes your money BEFORE showing his hole card and play ends. Generally, not a good option, and house rules vary from casino to casino.
UPCARD: The dealer’s card that is dealt face-up (i.e. you can see it).