Casino Games - Blackjack Rules

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Blackjack Rules and How to Play: Basics
The object of the blackjack game is to reach cards with point totals as close as possible to 21 without going over 21 (Busting). Face cards (Kings, Queens, and Jacks) are worth 10 points. Aces are worth 1 or 11, whichever is preferable without going over 21. Other cards are represented by their respective numbers.

If the player and the dealer have the same cards point totals at the end of the round it is considered a push, or tie, and no one wins (the player's bet is returned to him). Ace and a 10-valued card (natural Blackjack) on the first two cards dealt is an automatic player win with payout of 1.5-to-1, unless the dealer ties. The player may choose to stand at any time.

Playing blackjack

To win a player needs to beat the dealer without busting. You bust when your cards' point total exceeds 21, forfeiting your bet automatically. The dealer plays automatically according to the house rules, and usually hits (takes a card) until he reached a hard or soft 17 (soft hand is a hand that contains an Ace that is counted as 11). The winner is whoever comes closer 21. You reach 21 by adding up the values of the cards.

The blackjack table usually seats about 7 players. One, two, four, six or eight decks of cards are used and are shuffled together by the dealer and placed in a card dispensing box called a 'Shoe'.

Before receiving any cards the player must place a wager. Then two cards are dealt face up. The dealer gets one card face up, and one card face down (hole card). Each player in turn either stays or takes more cards to try and get closer to 21 without busting. Players who do not bust wait for the dealer's turn. When all the players are done, the dealer turns up the hole card. Usually, on counts of 17 or higher the dealer must stay; on counts of 16 or lower the dealer must draw a card.

Again, if you make a total of 21 with the first two cards (a 10 or a face card and an Ace), you win automatically. This is called 'Natural Blackjack'. If you have Blackjack, you will win one and one-half times your bet unless the dealer also has Blackjack, in which case it is a Push or a Tie (or a Stand-off) and you get your bet back.

The remaining players with a higher count than the dealer win an amount equal to their 1-to-1 their initial bet. Players with a lower count than the dealer automatically lose their bet. If the dealer busts, all the remaining players win. There are other betting options which are Insurance, Surrender, Double Down, Even Money and Split as described below.

  • Double Down: Double your initial bet following the initial two-card deal, band receive one card only. This is an excellent bet in certain situations where the outcome is favorable to the player (for example, a player has point total of 11 and the dealer shows a 6. The player is very likely to win in this case).
  • Even Money: An option given to a player to immediately receive winnings 1-to-1 payout ratio when you are dealt a natural blackjack and the dealer's upcard is an Ace.
  • Split: Split the initial two cards into two hands and play them separately. This can be done only if the initial two cards are of the same value - 8,8, K,J, A,A, etc. Each card is the first card of a separate hand, and a second bet equal to the first must be placed.
  • Insurance: Side bet up to half the initial bet against the dealer having a natural 21 - allowed only when the dealer's upcard is an Ace. If the dealer has a 10 face down and makes a blackjack, insurance pays at 2-1 odds, but loses if the dealer does not.
  • Surrender: Forfeiting your hand during the game and losing only half the initial bet.
  • Early Surrender: Same as Surrender but is allowed before the dealer checks for blackjack.
  • Late Surrender: The dealer first checks to see if he has blackjack. If he has blackjack surrender is not allowed.
  • Hard Hand: A hand without an Ace, or with an Ace valued at 1. It is called Hard since in it an Ace can only receive one value, unlike a Soft Hand (an Ace can receive 1 or 11 according to your needs).
  • Soft Hand: A hand that contains an Ace counted as 11 is called a Soft Hand. A player can hit a Soft Hand without worrying of busting, so in the worst case the Ace will valued at 1.

House Advantage (depends on the blackjack rules)
Not using basic strategy - 7% on average.
Using basic strategy - 0.5% or less.
Card counting can reverse the casino advantage and give up to 1% to the player.

Blackjack Variations and More Options
Different number of decks:
All other conditions being the same, generally the fewer the decks, the better for the player.

Dealer hits soft 17: This is a disadvantage to the player since it gives the dealer a chance to improve his point total.

Double Down after splitting pairs: This is an advantage to the player in many card situations (see Double Down example above)

Re-splitting of Aces: A huge advantage to the player. Splitting two Aces and receiving two consequtive10-valued cards is practically a sure winner.

No dealer hole card: This is common in European casinos and is a disadvantage to the player. The dealer deals himself only one card, face up, and does not deal himself a second card until the players have played. This way the dealer can get a natural blackjack making the players lose their bets after they have split their cards and/or doubled down.