How to play blackjack? Easy Beginner's Guide
Blackjack is the most common card game played in casino rooms and is also considered as one of a few games in which the player has an advantage over the house.
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The first references of blackjack were mentioned in a book written by the author of Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes at the beginning of the 17th century. A couple of friends specialized in cheating at a game called ventiuna, which is the Spanish name for “21”. Nevertheless, nobody knows exactly who played and when blackjack was played the first time.
Although the origins of the game aren’t clear, one thing we know for sure is the fact that blackjack is a game that is undisputedly the most beloved by gamblers all over the world!
Blackjack rules - easy guide
What makes blackjack (also known as “21 blackjack”) such a great game? Probably, it is the better chances of winning against the house than in Roulette, for instance.
Sitting down at the blackjack table gives you opportunity to beat the casino, but only if you become familiar with the basic rules and strategies (jump to blackjack strategy). Never start playing without previous preparation – you should know your odds!
How to play it? Every player has his own set of boxes to place a bet and this is how a typical table looks like:
It is hard to find a casino, where you can play a single deck blackjack. Usually, the houses offer games from 1 to 8 classic 52-card decks, shuffled up together. As it is easy to guess, the edge of the casino is higher when there are more decks in the game.
Some of the most advanced players use card counting strategy, so they can evaluate their odds decreasing the house edge. Would you believe?
The game starts with placing wagers – decide how much you want to bet in accordance to the table limits. The croupier deals to each player 2 cards faced up and 2 cards to himself, 1 faced up and 1 faced down.
To beat the dealer and get paid, you have to show a stronger hand. Each card has a different value – cards from 2 to 10 are valued as on indexes, Jacks, Queens and Kings equal ten, and Aces may have a value of either 1 or 11. The total score is expressed in a sum of points.
Important notice - your hand cannot exceed 21 points! If you go over 21, the dealer automatically takes your original wager and you lose. This is called “breaking” or “busting”.
Sometimes, it happens that your hand ties with the dealer’s hand. Then you get your bet back and the hand is finished. Blackjack’s players call it “push”.
If the dealer's faced-up card is A or 10, he will check a card facing down for blackjack. If he hits 21, the player loses, unless he has the natural blackjack too (A and 10 or any of face cards) and the pot is then split.
How to win at blackjack?
Example: you bet 10 $ and hit “blackjack”. Dealer pays you back 10 $ and extra 15 $ (altogether 25 $).
More often than “blackjack”, you will win by just having a higher score than the dealer. We explain what moves you can make below.
If you feel you can improve your hand, you can draw another card. Cards can be requested till the total score is 21 (blackjack) or higher (busting).
Your hand looks good enough and does not exceed 21? Stand. That means any card will not be drawn anymore. This option is recommended in circumstances where the dealer’s card is low and your hand value is between 17 and 20.
How should you know when to hit or stand? We lend a helping hand by introducing you to our blackjack basic strategy cheat sheet.
In contrast with poker, pocket pairs do not like to stick together. You are allowed to split them and play 2 hands independently to increase your odds and winnings. You can split any pocket pair (or cards the same value, for example KQ’s), but never split tens. Always split 88’s.
Double Down (or just Double)
If you decide your hand is potentially good, you can double the stake by betting the amount of the original wager. At the time, only 1 card will be drawn.
Read more when to double down
There are casinos accepting this option. Surrender in blackjack means giving up the hand in order to avoid losing against the stronger hand of the dealer. The consequence of surrendering is that you lose half of your original wager.
Sometimes, you will find this possibility in different casinos. Insurance is a side-bet (half of the original wager), which may secure you from loses in some circumstances.
For instance, when the dealer’s faced up card is an Ace, there are nearly 30% chances for hitting any of tens (Ten, Jack, Queen or King), giving him blackjack. In this case you lose your bet and win the insurance bet with odds 2 to 1. General opinion about blackjack insurance is to avoid it – it is just adverse.
Hard and soft totals
For example, when you hold 7 and Ace, your hand is “soft”, because you cannot go bust by drawing another card (7+1 or 11= 8 or 18).
In other cases your hand is “hard”. That means you cannot choose between the values of your ace. Example: 8, 9 and Ace (8+9=17, Ace has to be 1, otherwise you automatically lose).
The best way to understand the rules is to experience the game. You can play for fun by trying our free online blackjack games or if you feel strong enough to swim in deep water, choose one of our marvelous games for money.
We also prepared some more information in our strategy section. Find out, how to win in blackjack using advanced tactics and even... counting cards!
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