Guide To Playing Blackjack

Blackjack is the most recognized of all casino games, found on every casino floor from Vegas to Reno, Monte Carlo to Macau, and certainly in each of the thousands of online casinos floating about the internet.

The precise origins of Blackjack are not known. It can be dated as far back as the early 17th century, termed “21” at that time. The game of 21 was finally introduced to United States casinos, but it was not the instant success you may think. In fact, no one really wanted to play, so the casinos came up with extra bonus payouts for specific hands.

A payout of 10-to-1 was offered for a natural two-card hand with the Ace of Spades and a Black Jack. Suddenly the game was drawing attention, and the name Blackjack stuck like crazy glue.

Nowadays, there are many variations of Blackjack. There’s Vegas Strip Blackjack, Atlantic City Blackjack, Progressive Blackjack, upper 21, Match Play 21, the list goes.

Each variation has its own slight rule variation, such as how many decks are used, and whether the dealer hits a “Soft 17”, whether Surrender and/or Late Surrender are allowed. Some even offer side bets and, in the case of Progressive Blackjack, a progressive jackpot that pays for achieving specific hands.

The following walk through will guide you through the most basic steps learning to play Blackack. Be sure to check the specific rules of a Blackjack game at your favorite live or online casino before you start playing.

Blackjack Card Values
2-10 = Face Value
Face Cards = 10
Ace – 1 or 11

An Ace can be a 1 or an 11, depending on how it affects your hand. Ace is normally counted as 11, but if an 11 would cause your hand to bust (exceed 21), the Ace’s value drops to 1.

How to Play Blackjack

Every Blackjack table has a minimum and maximum stake limit. In order to play, you must first place a wager within these stakes. Cards are then dealt, giving 2 to each player as well as the dealer. The dealer’s second card will be dealt face up for all to see.

If the dealer’s face up card is an Ace, all player’s are offered the option to buy Insurance at a rate of ½ the player’s original bet. If the dealer has Blackjack, Insurance bets are paid 2-to-1 but original bets are lost. If there is no Blackjack, Insurance bets are lost and the hand carries on.

Each player looks at his own cards. He may now Stand, Hit, Double, Split or Surrender (if available).

Stand: To accept your current hand total, taking no additional cards.

Hit: To take one more card. A player may continue to hit so long as his/her hand value does not meet or exceed 21.

Double: To double the original wager, taking exactly one more card and automatically standing on the total.

Split: To divide two same-value cards into two new hands by placing a second wager, equal to the first, on the new hand. Both hands are played out in normal fashion, one at a time. Note that most casinos will not consider a Blackjack derived from split Aces to be a natural Blackjack, but rather a standard hand of 21.

Surrender: To accept defeat before seeing the dealer’s cards, forfeiting half of the bet, but keeping the other half.

Blackjack: The Dealer’s Hand

The dealer is not permitted to make decisions, per say. He/She must follow specific rules set forth by the casino. They are…

  • If dealer’s hand totals 16 or less, dealer must Hit.
  • If dealer’s hand totals 17 or more, dealer must Stand.
  • Soft 17: If the Soft 17 rule is in effect, the dealer must Hit a hand of 17 where an Ace is being counted as 11.

Blackjack Winning Hands

  • If the player’s hand is closer to 21 than the dealer’s, without going over (busting), the player wins even money.
  • If the player has a Natural Blackjack (i.e. Ace-King), consisting of two original cards (not a Split), the player wins 3-to-2.
  • If the dealer and player tie, it is a Push and the player’s bet is returned.
  • If the dealer’s hand is closer to 21, or of the dealer has Blackjack (and the player does not), the house wins and the player’s bet is lost.

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