How to Play Blackjack
Blackjack is one of the most popular casino games today and can be found both in casinos and online. The goal of blackjack is to have the value of the cards you are dealt come as close as possible to 21, but without exceeding 21.
A blackjack player wins if his or her hand is a higher value than the dealer’s hand and does not go over 21. Any blackjack hand with a value over 21 is referred to as a bust. If the blackjack dealer busts, everyone who did not bust wins the hand. If a player busts, they automatically lose.
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Table of Contents for Blackjack Rules
- Blackjack Card Values
- Simple Blackjack Hand
- Blackjack Dealer’s Moves
- Getting Blackjack
- Doubling Down
- Insurance Against Blackjack
- Even Money
- Check The Rules
- Online Blackjack
In blackjack, every card has a specific value attached to it. With 2’s through 10’s, the value of the card matches the number on the card. All face cards have a value of 10. An Ace can either have a value of one, or a value of 11. The blackjack player chooses what the card’s value is, unless the value of their hand would go over 21 if the ace would have a value of 11. In this case, the ace has a value of 1. In blackjack, the suit of the cards is irrelevant.
To begin a hand of blackjack, every person wishing to play in the hand places a bet on the table. The blackjack dealer then deals two cards to every player face up, with the dealer receiving one of his or her cards face down. After the required cards are dealt, each player has the option of being dealt more cards to try and get closer to the magic number of twenty-one.
A blackjack player may continue to receive cards until they choose to stop or until they bust. A player does not get to play their hand until the previous player finishes playing his or her hand. Once all player hands are completed, the dealer plays his or her hand.
After the blackjack dealer is finished, the players with higher values than the dealer’s win an amount equal to their bet, and the players with hands lower than the dealer’s lose. In the event a player’s hand is equal to the dealer’s hand, the player wins back their bet. This is known as a push.
The dealer does not have any options in blackjack. The casino sets the rules for dealer play, and the dealer is not allowed to deviate from the rules whatsoever. Typically, dealers will stop playing once they have achieved a value of 17 or higher. However, in some casinos, the dealer will continue playing if they have a soft 17. A soft 17 is a 17 where one of the cards making up the 17 is an Ace that has a value of 11. In this case the dealer will continue to play.
Blackjack is not just the name of the game, but it is also the name of the most powerful hand in the game. A blackjack is a hand where a player’s original two cards have a value equal to twenty-one. To have a blackjack, a player must have an ace and any card with a value of ten for the first two cards.
A blackjack pays out at a rate of 3:2 in most all blackjack games, and 6:5 in single deck games. 3:2 odds means that if a player bet $20 on the hand, he or she would win $30 for having a blackjack instead of the $20 they would have won by winning by any other means. In a single deck game, a player wagering $50 would have received $60. A blackjack beats every dealer hand except a dealer blackjack.
Hitting is the act of a player choosing to get dealt another card. Hitting is signified by the playing tapping the table with a finger. The dealer then gives the player another card, and if the player does not bust, the player is once again left with the choice: Hit or Stand?
Standing is the act of a blackjack player choosing to refuse another card. Standing is signified by the player’s hand moving over their cards in a horizontal direction. By making this motion, the player completes their hand and waits for the other players to finish before seeing if their hand has beaten the dealer’s.
After being dealt the two original cards, a player can choose to surrender. By surrendering, a player can take back half of their bet if they believe they will not win the hand. Surrendering must be the first action a player takes, so if a player takes another card, they waive the option to surrender. Surrendering can be very useful if you have very low odds to win the hand, but it is wise to not surrender often, as surrendering is only justified with the worst of hands.
Doubling down can be a very profitable option in blackjack. Like surrendering, doubling down must be the very first action a player takes, but that is where the similarities end.
When a blackjack player doubles down, he or she places an additional bet on the table right next to the original bet. This additional bet must be less than or equal to the original bet. However, it is ill-advisable to double down for less than the original bet. If you can afford it, always double down for the full bet. After placing this additional bet, the player is dealt one card face down. A player’s hand is finished at this point, and the face down card is turned up once the dealer’s hand is completed. If the player wins, he or she wins an amount equal to the total of the two bets that were made.
Another common blackjack move is the split. A player can split when they are dealt a pair for his or her first two cards, say for example, a pair of 4s. The player can place an additional bet, which must be equal to the original bet, next to the original bet. The pair is then split into two separate hands. The dealer will place a second card on the first hand of what is now two hands, and at this point a player can choose to double down or play the hand normally.
Once this hand is complete, the blackjack player will then play the second hand in the exact same way as the first, getting dealt the second card and choosing how to play from there. Splitting can transform a weak hand such as a pair or 8s, into two hands that have decent odds of winning.
Insurance against the blackjack dealer is an option given to the player that is usually an extremely bad move, but not always. Insurance is offered when the dealer’s face up card is an Ace. A player can choose to accept insurance by placing a bet equal to half of their original bet into the insurance section of the blackjack table. This bet will pay out an amount equal to the insurance bet if the dealer has a ten or a face card for their face down card, which would make the dealer a blackjack.
If the dealer has a blackjack and the player accepted insurance, the player will break even on the hand. If the dealer does not have blackjack, the player will lose their insurance bet, and the player will have to win with their original hand to not lose additional money on this play. Typically, insurance is only a smart move if you’ve been card counting and the deck is stacked heavy with face cards at the end of the shoe, which is frowned upon in casinos.
Even money is the same as insurance, except it is only offered when the dealer has an Ace face up and the player has a blackjack. If even money is accepted, the player is guaranteed to win at 2:1 odds. However, if the player does not accept even money and the dealer does not have a blackjack, the player would win at 3:2 odds or 6:5 odds in a single deck game.
Even if the dealer does have a blackjack, the player would not lose any money on the hand. The mathematics say that in the long-run you’ll make more money by taking a risk to win at 3:2 odds than by guaranteeing yourself a win at 2:1 odds. Again, card counters are the ones in the best position to take advantage of even money, so unless you’ve been playing close attention to the cards in the blackjack shoe, it’s best to refuse all offers of insurance and even money.
Blackjack rules change depending on the casino. It is always important to check what a particular casino’s rules for the game are before you begin to play. Some casinos will have additional rules, some will have rule variants, and some will have seemingly crazy rules. Always check the casino’s rules for blackjack before playing.
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