How to Play Blackjack

One of the most well-known and popular card games in the world is Blackjack – today that is. Something very interesting about the game of Blackjack is that when it was first introduced in America, there was a great lack of interest in it. Gambling establishments actually had to start offering players enormous bonuses just to get them to take part in the game. Of course, now as we know it in present day, its combination of luck and skill make Blackjack not only a very entertaining past-time, but also a potentially lucrative source of income for people all around the globe.

Blackjack Rules – How to Play

The basic concept of Blackjack is a two-card deal. Each participant receives two cards and then makes the determination whether to take another ‘hit’ which means to receive additional cards (as many times as the individual desires), or ‘stay’ which is defined as simply playing the original two-card hand they were dealt or once receiving additional cards to reach what they think will be the amount of winning points. The goal is to get the cards you’ve been dealt to add up to as close to or – or ultimately reach – the number 21, without going over that number which in this latter instance is referred to as a ‘busted hand’.

Multiple players can participate in this game and whether it’s taking place in a casino or other type of betting environment, the players must beat the dealer’s hand to win.

Blackjack Scoring
Point value is as follows:

Ace through the number 10 cards are counted at face value – one through ten, although the Ace of any suit can also be calculated as an 11, depending on the circumstance and point value of the other cards received in that particular hand.

Face cards – Jack, Queen and King equal 10 points each.

A 21-point hand that entails only the first 2 cards – a face card and an Ace, is what’s known as a ‘Blackjack’ or a ‘Natural’ and results in an automatic win for the player (or dealer if the players lose their hands).

Blackjack is Player Versus Dealer

After all participants have chosen to ultimately ‘stay’ on their cards, if a player’s hand comes closer to or equals 21 against the dealer’s hand, the player wins.

If the player loses their hand, but the dealer does as well, the dealer is still considered the winner because the player would have busted first (Dealer doesn’t act until all of the players at the table have ‘stayed’ or ‘busted’ their hands).

If the player’s points equal the same amount as the dealer’s hand, that becomes what’s referred to as a ‘push’ and neither party wins – it’s a tie or draw, depending on your preference of terminology.

The general casino rule is that the dealer has to continue to hit their hand until they reach at least 17 points.

If the dealer loses by going over, all players partaking in that hand automatically win.

Basic Blackjack Strategies

So, based solely on what’s been explained thus far, you can most likely see where the theory of both and skill and luck play their parts together in the game of Blackjack. A player can’t legally determine what card will be pulled from the deck next which is where the luck part of the game comes into it, so players have to use their skill to decide whether to stay or hit on their hand in order to beat the unbeknownst dealer’s total score.

Here’s a few of the ways both experienced and newbie Blackjack players can utilize their skill to further enhance their chances of winning against the dealer.

Blackjack Strategy Chart

You may see players using a strategy card when playing blackjack at a casino. The blackjack strategy chart gives new players the optimal strategy by taking in account their two cards and the dealers revealed card. It tells players when to Hit, Double Down, Split, Surrender or ‘stay’.

Blackjack Double-Down
With the double-down strategy, a player can choose to double their bet and receive one – and only one – additional card. So if that additional card adds up to more points than the dealer’s without going over 21, the player not only wins the hand, but also doubles the amount they originally wagered on that hand.

Split
Another strategy for both doubling a winning (or losing) wager is if a player is initially dealt two cards of equal value, they can choose to split the hand and have each of those now two hands hit with additional cards. Some casinos allow a ‘multiple split’ which occurs when the third card received is the same value as the first two cards that created the initial split. Note that once a player splits their hand, they cannot double down.

Surrendering
To surrender a Blackjack hand is not a strategy for winning in so much as it is a means of lessening a loss. If a player pretty much realizes they have no way to win their hand, they can ‘surrender’ their cards and only lose half of the amount they wagered instead of all of it. However, most modern casinos don’t offer this alternative – it was actually very popular around the turn of the century. But if the gaming environment is of a more casual nature, this option may still apply.

Playing like a Blackjack Pro

Card Counting

Blackjack pro’s use complex card counting systems to increase their odds of winning. The basic idea of card counting is keeping track of the cards that have been dealt and better predicting what cards will likely come next. This is the study of blackjack odds and very good professional blackjack players are able to use this information to beat the house.

Knowing the House Rules

Picking where you play is another thing that professionals are very careful about. They don’t want to pick a game where the blackjack rules have been modified to give a bigger edge to the house. You need to be very careful on what the “house” blackjack rules are. One thing is how much they pay for blackjacks. Casinos have started to only pay 6 to 5 rather then 3 to 2. This works out in the houses favor so it is important to try to only play games that give you the true 3 to 2 blackjack odds.

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