Some players call the game 21, while others call it blackjack. Whatever you want to name it, understanding how to play it in the casino is essential if you want to have fun and occasionally even outscore the house.
The Blackjack Movement
Blackjack most likely started in 18th-century France under the name vingt-et-un, French for “21.” But after Edward O. Thorp published his Basic Strategy for winning at blackjack in his 1963 best-seller “Beat the Dealer,” the game’s popularity in casinos skyrocketed. And that, by the way, is the game’s main goal. Blackjack has evolved into more than just a pastime, potentially even a method of making a living, largely because of Thorp.
In the Cards
Blackjack uses one, two, four, six, or eight decks of cards and is a deceptively straightforward game. The dealer used to mix the cards manually, but nowadays, most casinos employ continuous shuffling machines. The dealer deals the cards in single-deck and double-deck games. The cards are dealt out of a shoe, which is a tray-like box, in multi-deck games. Some casinos have a shoe that holds the cards and also shuffles.
The cards are dealt face down, and players are allowed to pick them up in handheld games. The cards are handed face up to the players in a shoe game, and they are not permitted to touch them.
Both facedown and portable games follow the same rules. The goal is always to outscore the dealer, achieving or coming close to a point score of 21. You win if the sum of your cards is higher than the dealer’s cards without exceeding 21. You “bust” and lose your wager if your hand totals more than 21. You win if the dealer busts. The fact that the house, or casino, always holds the advantage is an intriguing characteristic of blackjack and all casino games. Which is 5 percent in the case of blackjack (meaning for every dollar bet, the casino keeps, on average, five cents). Another intriguing aspect of blackjack is that the dealer typically has a smaller bust potential than the players.
Contrary to poker, the card suits have no bearing on the game’s outcome. In blackjack, only their numerical value is relevant. A pair of hearts, spades, diamonds, or clubs always equals two points, and so on up the ladder to the number ten. Cards 2 through 10 are tallied at face value. King, Queen, and Jack are all face cards with a value of 10. The value of an ace might be either one or eleven.
A queen and a five would equal fifteen in the play, whereas an ace and a five would equal either six or sixteen. A hand without an ace is known as a “hard hand” since it only has one value. Because the value of an ace can alter, a hand with an ace is known as a soft hand. If you draw to a soft hand and the three cards add up to a number that pushes you beyond 21 by counting an ace as 11, the hand changes to a hard hand. Consider receiving an ace and a three, for instance. Either a four or a 14 is in your hand. If you count the ace as 11, you would have 25, which would blow you, so if you draw a ten after that, you now have a hard 14.
Blackjack dealt in table play is done so on a unique, semi-circular table. Each player has their circle or square. You must purchase chips from the dealer or bring them from another table before you may sit down. The betting circle is in front of your area, where you place your wager. Your stake only counts if chips are placed in the betting circle. The play starts once all wagers have been placed.
We’ll suppose you’re playing a game with multiple decks and the cards are being dealt from a shoe for this demonstration. Two face-up cards are dealt to each participant. The hole card, often known as the first two cards dealt to the dealer, is dealt face down. After dealing with the cards, the dealer will ask each participant to choose a choice. Acting first is the player on the dealer’s left. First base is the name of this place. Third base refers to the location of the last player to bat. You will decide how to play your hand based on the dealer’s up card and the two cards you were given. Assume the dealer has a ten in the hole as a general rule for new players. Although this isn’t always the case, making this assumption simplifies putting bets.
Hand signals are used.
Remember that you are not permitted to handle the cards when playing a game from a shoe. You should always communicate your decisions through hand signals, and this keeps the action rolling while allowing the eye in the sky to monitor the performance and prevent verbal misunderstandings. These signs include the following:
Take a hit to indicate that you want to draw a new card. You can tap the table in front of you or make a beckoning gesture with your hand to ask the dealer for a hit. After the first card, you may move for another card similarly.
Stand – You tell the dealer that you want to stand after you are pleased with your hand of cards (not receive any additional cards). Waving your hand over the top of your cards accomplishes this.
Double Down: After obtaining your first two cards, you have the option to double your wager when you double down. Then, you only get one card in your hand. You can double down on any two cards in most casinos (DOA). Some casinos only allow you to double on hands totaling 10 or 11. A rule that is helpful to the player is DOA. You will place a new wager next to your existing wager to indicate that you are doubling down. Most casinos will let you double down as long as your second wager matches the minimum requirement for the table. This is stupid. You only double when the odds are in your favor, and you should double as much as possible.
You can divide a pair of cards (two of the same rank) into two independent hands if you are dealt one. Then you have to place a second wager equivalent to your initial wager. By positioning your second wager close to your initial wager in the betting circle, you let the dealer know that you plan to split. Do not place this wager on top of the first one. Do not split the cards apart. The dealer will handle this. You won’t play each hand one at a time either. You will receive a second card in addition to the first split card from the dealer. Then you’ll choose whether to hit or stand. You will go on to the next split card and repeat the procedure after playing out this hand and standing. After splitting, you may be able to double down in some casinos using your first two cards. This is how you would play it if you doubled down with your first two cards. The player benefits from this regulation.
How to get a Blackjack
When dealt an ace and a 10-value card, either you or the dealer have what is known as a blackjack, which is 21. This comes naturally. If you get a blackjack, you will receive a 3-to-2 payout for your wager as long as the dealer does not also get a 21. A push occurs when you and the dealer have blackjack, in which case your wager is returned to you. All players will be out of luck if the dealer has blackjack alone.
If the dealer’s up card is an ace, the dealer will present an insurance option. You can place a side betting on the dealer having a 10 in the hole by putting down half of your initial wager. You will receive a 2-to-1 payout if you place the stake and the dealer has the 10. In this case, you would lose your initial wager but win the insurance wager, making your initial wager a push. If the dealer has an ace, you will be asked if you would want even money instead of 3-to-2 for your blackjack. If the dealer has a blackjack and you do not take the even money, you will receive a push. Both the even-money wager and insurance are lousy bets. The dealers won’t have ten times as much as they will have.
After the dealer checks for blackjack and you have received your first two cards, some casinos will let you fold your hand and forfeit half of your wager. Late surrender is what is meant here. However, not all casinos provide this choice. When performed properly, it benefits the player. Sadly, many players give up more hands than they should when provided, negating this alternative’s benefit.