Many players have heard the tale which says that out of all the existent casino table games, you stand the greatest chance of winning at the blackjack game. In the early 1960s, a system for counting cards in order to gain an advantage over the casino was presented to the public. The moment it happened, there were a few players that really managed to beat the dealer. Moreover, playing rules of blackjack have changed since that time. Some tables use two or more decks at a time or just take a few of the cards out so that people who know how to count them never see them.
Despite that most people don’t possess the capability of consistently winning, the mere confidence in the beating the dealer` concept led to a massive boom in the game. Blackjack is clearly the most sought-after casino game in the United States. Its number of players surpasses the likes of craps, roulette and baccarat enthusiasts combined.
A lot of players lack the patience, the tenacity and the focus necessary for card counting. Or they simply don’t have enough financial strength to be efficient when playing. Still, they can downsize the house advantage to less than one percent in blackjack. The secret lies in learning the basic strategy for hitting, standing, doubling down and splitting pairs. Some time on the side spent learning to play well can lead to great paths for casino lovers. Let’s get down to the core of this game and analyze the fundamentals of blackjack. So how do you play blackjack?
Rules of Blackjack
People usually play blackjack with one or more standard 52-card decks, having each denomination assigned to a point value. From the two cards to the 10th one, each piece holds its face value. Kings, queens, and jacks are each worth ten and aces can be used as either one or 11. The player has to draw a card that amounts closer to 21 than the dealer’s cards. The player isn’t allowed to go over 21.
The optimal sum is a two-card 21, or a blackjack. Blackjack pays 3-2, which means that a two-card 21 on a $5 bet will earn $7.50 instead of the usual $5. But, if the dealer also has a two-card 21, the hand pushes or ties and you get the initial bet back. However, if the dealer goes on to draw 21 in three or more cards, your blackjack’s wins and the 3-2 playoff is applied.
The game is usually played at a table that has the shape of an arc and can host up to seven players on the outside. It also has a spot for the dealer, on the inside. If you look at one of the corners of the table you will see a rectangular notice that displays the minimum and the maximum bets at that table, as well as offering variations in common rules. For example, the sign might read `BLACKJACK. $5 to $2000. Split any pair three times. Double on any two cards. This means the least you have to pay is five dollars and the ceiling rests at two thousand dollars. Pairs can be split a maximum of three times for a number of four hands. The player can double the original bet (this means doubling down) and receive just one more card on any two- card total.
Nowadays, most of the games are played using four, six or eight different decks. After the dealer shuffles them, he puts the cards in a place called a `shoe`, from which the dealer can easily slide out one card at a time. Single or double deck matches are most popular in Nevada, but they’re also very well received in Mississippi and other regions. Those cards can be dealt from the hand of the dealer.
The actual game commences when you place a bet by stacking a chip or more in the square on the table, which is in front of you. After every player has placed their bet, each one of them, including the dealer, receive two cards. In a shoe game, every player card is dealt face-up and you’re not allowed to touch your cards. In a single or a double deck game dealt from the hand, cards are being placed face-down and players are allowed to pick them up, but using only one hand. In any of the cases, one of the dealer’s cards is turned face-up so the players are able to look at it.
The minute the cards are dealt, players decide, one by one, how to approach their game. When they’re done, the dealer plays in accordance with the rules: the dealer has to draw more cards to any total of 16 or less and needs to stand on any total of 17 or more. There are casinos in which the dealer would also draw to `soft` 17, which means a 17 that includes an ace or aces that could also be counted as a 7. The most common soft 17 is an ace-6, but there are many combinations, such as ace-3-3 or ace 4-2 or an ace-ace-ace-ace-ace-ace-ace in a multiple deck game.
When you hit, you take another card or cards hoping that you will get closer to 21. If your total is more than 21 after you hit, you’re said to `bust` and you lose the bet. In a shoe game, the player announces a hit by pointing to his cards or scratching or waving to himself. In face-down games, the player signals the hit by scratching the table with the cards. You are not allowed to verbally call a hit. These signals are used so that if any dispute occurs, security can easily watch the tape and settle the situation accordingly.
If you stand, you choose not to draw any more cards hoping that the amount you have now would beat the dealers. You can announce your stand by holding a flattened palm over your cards in a face-up game and by placing your cards under your bet in a face-down game.
You might choose to double the value of your original bet and get just one more card. It doesn’t matter what card that is. Some casinos limit doubling down to hands where your first two cards amount to 10 or 11. Others, though, allow you to double down on any pair of cards. You can double down by taking a chip or several chips that equal the value of your initial bet and placing them next to your current one. In a face-down game, at this point, you also need to turn your original two cards face-up.
If the first two cards are the same, you may choose to place a second bet that’s equal to your first and split the pair, all while you use each of your cards as the first one in a different hand. Let’s take the example in which you are dealt two cards, both being an individual eight. You can place a second bet, equal to the first. The dealer would separate the two identical cards and put a second one on the first 8. You play this hand out in a usual way until you either stand or bust. Then, the dealer places a second card on the second eight and you play that hand out.
If the dealer’s face-up card is an ace, you might want to have `insurance`, which is, basically, a bet that says the dealer has a ten-value card down to complete a blackjack. The insurance can be made for half of the original bet and it pays 2-1 if the dealer has blackjack. The mere effect is that if you win the insurance bet and lose the hand, you come out safe and even.
Most dealers would advise players to take insurance if the player has a blackjack. This can be done simply by calling out `Even money`, because if the dealer actually has blackjack, the player gets a payoff that is equal to his bet, instead of the 3-2 normally paid on blackjack.
Not all blackjack games are the same. There are some discrepancies between different games that concern the rules. Some are good for the player and some are not that favorable. The changes within houses could seem small, but they make a great impact in a game where the total house edge is less than one percent against a basic strategy player. Let us walk you through a few of the usual variations and their effect on the house advantage.
Double Downs after Splitting Pairs Is Permitted
It is a very favorable rule for the player, cutting the house advantage by 0.13 percent.
Resplitting of Aces Permitted
At most casinos, the player who splits aces gets only one more card on each ace. But if the gambler gets another ace, some casinos allow the resplit between the resulting pair. This method cuts the house advantage by 0.03 percent.
When the dealer’s card that’s facing up is an ace, the dealer checks to see if the down-card is a 10 in order to achieve a blackjack, before continuing to play. If the house allows the player to surrender half of the original bet, instead of playing the hand before the dealer checks for blackjack, that’s what early surrender is. It is a very good rule for the player. It reduces the house’s advantage by 0.624 percent. Surrender can also be some sort of a trap because some beginners that have not learned the basics of strategy might misuse them.
We hope you enjoyed our little blackjack guide. Playing blackjack should be easier and more fun for you now!