How to Play Blackjack
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The basics of Blackjack
The main objective of this popular casino game – the widely accepted one at least – is to get as close to 21 points as possible without going over it (also known as going bust). In reality, however, all one really needs to win is to get a high enough point value (still without going bust) to beat the dealer’s hand.
The rules and mechanics of the game are pretty simple. Let’s take a look below:
Blackjack uses a single 52-card deck. Each card is assigned a specific point value, as shown in the table below:
|2 – 10||Same as face value (i.e., 2 = 2, 5 = 5, etc.)|
|J – K||10 points each|
|A||1 or 11 points|
The best possible hand you can get in this game is a two-card 21, which is called a blackjack. Suits don’t affect the card and point values in any way.
Placing of bets
Just like most other poker games, Blackjack doesn’t always involve gambling, but whenever it does, each player is assigned a box or circle on the table to put their bets in before dealing begins.
Cash games, in most cases, come with upper and lower betting limits, with the upper limit typically falling anywhere between 10 and 20 times the value of the lower one.
As soon as all players have finished putting their bets in, everyone at the table, including the dealer, is dealt two cards each. For the players, both cards are dealt face up. For the dealer, on the other hand, one card is dealt face up while the other is kept face down. The dealer’s face-down card is called the hole card.
Each player may choose to do any of the following after seeing their respective cards (and the dealer’s face-up card):
- Hit, which means ask for an extra card. Of course, if the extra card pushes the player’s total point value past 21, then they automatically go bust and lose their bet.
- Stand, which means stick to the two cards that they already have.
- Double Down, which means multiply their original bet by two and ask for an extra card.
- Split, which means break their hand into two separate hands, provided the original hand is a pair. Splitting players are required to place another bet equal to their original one in exchange for two more cards to be used to build the new hands. This can be done up to four times. If the hand that was split was composed of aces, however, the player, in most cases, will no longer be allowed to play it.
- Place an insurance bet – which can be as little as half the value of the original bet – that the dealer’s hole card is worth 10 points. Players typically do this when the dealer’s face-up card is an ace worth 11 points so they can earn as much as they lose (with a 2-1 payoff scheme) in case the dealer does end up with a blackjack and the player loses the hand.
- Surrender and recover half of their bet if the dealer has an obvious and overwhelming advantage. It is either done early, which means prior to the dealer checking their hand for a blackjack, or late, which means after the dealer is finished checking. Keep in mind, however, that not all tables allow players to surrender.
The dealer gets last action in every hand. Depending on the value of their two-card hand, they can choose to either stand or get an extra card. Hitting, however, is required if the dealer’s hand is worth less than 17 points.
Once action is done, each player must compare their hands with that of the dealer’s – provided the dealer has not gone bust, in which case all active players automatically win. If the dealer doesn’t go bust, then the game ends four possible ways:
- If the player’s hand is better than the dealer’s, then they win as much as they bet.
- If the dealer’s hand is better than the player’s, then the player’s bet goes to the dealer.
- If the player gets blackjack and beats the dealer’s hand, then they win 1.5 times their bet.
- If there’s a draw (also called a push), then the player just gets their bet back.
Now that you know the rules of the game, how about a quick strategy lesson?
Ready to play some Blackjack?
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