Blackjack Essentials

How to play Blackjack

Blackjack is a popular casino game that is played with one to eight decks of cards. Generally, the game is played between a dealer, who deals the cards, and five to seven players who aim to beat the dealer.

Cards that have a value of between two and tenare scored according their face value.  Kings, Queens and Jacks are scored as 10 points, while an Ace can be scored as either 1 or 11 points.

The aim of Blackjack is to get as close to 21 points as possible. The best hand in Blackjack is a 10 and an Ace, which is equivalent to 21 points and thus termed blackjack.

A standard win over the dealer in Blackjack pays even money, while a winning blackjack (21 points) pays 3:2. In the event of the player and the dealer both having a blackjack, the player neither wins nor loses the round and a new round is started. The player wins the round if he gets closer to 21 points than the dealer, or if the player gets 21 points or below and the dealers cards are equivalent to more than 21 points. The dealer wins the round if he gets closer to 21 points or if the dealer gets 21 points or below and the players’ cards are equivalent to more than 21 points. In Blackjack terms, having more than 21 points is known as a‘bust’ or a ‘break’.

The finer details of the game

Blackjack consists of a number of rounds in which cards are dealt from the dealer to the player. The player will sit in a circular position opposite the dealer and will place their bets (before the round begins) in the circle or in front of them. The dealer will then proceed to deal himself two cards and the active players, two cards each. One of these cards will be dealt face up and one of these cards facedown. After the player has seen his first card, the dealer will proceed to turn over the player’s second card. At this point, the player will now have two cards face up and has one of two options. If he feels confident that his hand is a winning one – the player will not ask the dealer for another card. This is known as a ‘stand’. If he feels they can get closer to 21 points, the player can ask to be dealt another card.This is called a ‘hit’.

If the player receives two cards of the same value, he can split them into two hands. In this event, each card now becomes the first card of a new hand. The player can then make a bet for his second hand. After all players have played their hand(from left to right) the dealer will then play his hand.

‘Insurance’  is aside bet up to half the initial bet against the dealer having a natural 21 and this is allowed only when the dealer’s up card 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.A ‘soft hand’, is a hand that contains an Ace counted as 11 and is called a soft hand. A ‘hard hand’, is a hand without an Ace, or with an Ace valued at 1 and is said to be Hard in that it can only be given one value, unlike a Soft Hand.The player can also ‘Surrender’ – this is giving up your hand and you lose only half the bet.