Blackjack is an integral part of the casino repertoire, and a favorite of many players. Hundreds of books are written about Blackjack. From its origins in 18th century France to its current embodiment in places such as Atlantic City and Las Vegas, Blackjack continues to be one of the most highly regarded of card games.
In Blackjack players compete against the dealer. A hand’s objective is to beat the dealer by either obtaining a hand value total as close to 21 as possible that exceeds the dealer’s; however, if a hand scores more than 21 it is called a “bust” and the player loses his bet. It is important to denote that the dealer has no choices in Blackjack and follows a strict set of prescribed rules. Online casino might provide additional rules to this game: please make sure you have consulted the game manual!
Before we proceed to explaining the nature of the game an explanation of how the scores for a blackjack hand is calculated.
An Ace can have value of 1 or 11, whichever suits you best. A hand with an Ace can be either soft or hard: a soft hand is a situation where the player can safely draw another card without risk of being busted as he can choose between Ace values to his convenience.
- Cards 2 to 9 bear their respective face value
- 10, Jack, Queen and King are all valued 10
The blackjack or a natural is a situation when your first two cards score to 21 which is only possible with an Ace and a card with value of ten. Blackjack beats 21. Blackjack against blackjack is considered a tie.
The dealer will deal two cards to all players including himself, and expose one of his cards (unless the game is played faces up). The players then take turns in making decisions.
The players (except for the dealer) are at liberty to make the following choices:
Surrender – this rule is not available in every game and can only be played before any other choices. Surrendering is withdrawing from the game (“folding your hand”) for the cost of the half of your bet. The early surrender occurs when the player surrenders a hand before the dealer checks his blackjack; the late surrender occurs after the dealer had a chance to check for the blackjack.
Hit – a player that decides to hit requests a dealer to serve him an additional card.
Stand – a player that decides to stand indicates that he will not be drawing a card.
Double down – when a player has two hands he can use double down to double his bet and require an additional – and the only – card. You can place a bet that amounts up to the original.
Splitting pairs – if you are dealt two score-wise matching cards, you can split them and play both hands independently. When you split pairs you must place a bet on the newly split hand that amounts to the bet on the old hand. Some online casinos may allow you to double down after you split or split multiple times – make sure to check the game manual! If you split two Aces you are only entitled to one additional draw for each Ace. In this case, drawing a ten to an Ace is not considered natural and will be beaten by a blackjack.
Insurance – if the dealer turns up an Ace he will offer insurance to the players. The choice of insurance allows a player to bet up to half of his original bet against the dealer’s blackjack. The dealer will check for blackjack; in case he does the player will lose his original bet but the insurance bet will be paid out at double odds effectively covering the original bet. If the dealer does not have blackjack the player loses both bets.
Normally the dealer will play the “stands on all 17s” rule meaning that he is required to draw cards until his totals are 17 points or greater unless he busts. Otherwise, the dealer stands. Notice that an Ace in dealer’s hand under this rule is always considered to be 11 points unless it makes the dealer go over 21 points. He can not split, double down, insure himself or surrender.
The winnings table for Blackjack is very simple:
- Winning hand pays 1 to 1.
- Insurace pays 2 to 1.
- Blackjack pays 3 to 2.