Although poker is arguably the most popular card game in the world, blackjack is a close second. Also known as Twenty-One, blackjack is a simple betting game that allows players to have countless strategies. In fact, it’s a popular game for many beginnings due to its easy rules and numerous strategies. This card game is found in casinos all around, and though different variations depend on the casino, the basic rules are the same. Let’s learn how to play blackjack so you can start raking in some money.
Playing at Home Versus the Casino
Before we jump into the rules, let’s first cover the main difference between playing blackjack at home versus the casino.
At home, you might take turns having a dealer (called “a changing bank”) with everyone sitting down. At the casino, the house is always the dealer (called “a permanent bank”), and this person is always standing while the players sit. No matter where you play, the dealer is in charge of shuffling, dealing and handling bets.
At home, you might use one or two decks of cards, but casinos can use several decks shuffled together. Typically, casinos use six decks, or 312 cards. Dealers then use something called a “shoe” to hold and dispense the cards.
Keep in mind that unlike poker, the other players’ cards don’t affect your cards; you are essentially only competing against the dealer.
How to Play Blackjack: Objective, Card Values and Betting
The first detail you need to learn is the objective. Your goal is to beat the dealer by getting as close to 21 as possible without going over. If you get more than 21, you “bust,” or lose.
There are three ways to beat the dealer: 1. You get a hand value that is higher than the dealers. 2. The dealer busts. 3. You get 21 and the dealer doesn’t.
Card values are the next detail. Two through nine are worth their individual values. Face cards and 10s are worth 10, and these are called ten-cards. An ace can be worth one or 11; we will come back to that later. To play blackjack, you add the cards’ values together. Remember, you don’t want to go over 21.
At the start of each round before any cards are dealt, players must place a bet. This can range from a few dollars to hundreds of dollars.
The dealer goes clockwise around the table and gives each player one card face up, including himself. The dealer then goes around a second time and gives each player a second card, also face up. However, the dealer’s second card is placed face down (a “hole card”).
If the game only has one or two jacks, the players’ second cards might be face down, too.
How to Play Blackjack: The Rules Part One
Once the players bet and the cards are dealt, each player must decide what to do with their cards. There are six options: stand, hit, surrender, split, double down or place an insurance bet. Let’s examine these in more detail and how players can signal these options to the dealer.
To stand means the player won’t receive any additional cards. Standing is a good choice if your two cards total high values, such as 19 or 20. Once you stand, your turn is over.
If a player wants to stand, he can either say “stand” or “no more” and signal this to the dealer. There are several ways to do this: the player can move their hand sideways, palm down, over the table; the player can put an open palm out over the table; the player can wave his hand over the cards; or the player can hold a flat palm over the cards.
If your cards don’t total a high value, you might want to hit. This means you ask for another card to try and get closer to that 21 mark. There is no limit to the number of cards you can hit unless you bust or decide to stand.
If a player wants to hit, he can say “hit” and signal it by scratching or tapping the table with a finger; wave his hand in the air; or point at the cards.
If you don’t like your hand, you can give it up in exchange for half of your original bet. Usually, surrenders must occur before any hitting.
If a player wants to surrender, he can say “surrender” and draw a line across the table.
This is where blackjack can get a little complicated, but it’s still easy enough to learn. If a player’s first two cards are a pair (for example, two fours), then the player can split them and treat them as separate hands. This means the cards are now treated as the first card for each separate hand, so the dealer now needs to give second cards for each hand.
To split, the player needs to provide a second bet of the same value; the original bet goes to one hand, and the second bet goes to the other hand.
The player then plays one hand by standing or hitting until busting or standing before moving to the second hand.
*If the player receives two aces and splits, the player is given one card for each ace, but their turn is now over. If a ten-card is dealt to the ace, the payoff is equal to the bet.
If a player wants to split, he can place the second bet next to the first and give the “peace” sign.
Another option is for players to double their bets and receive one additional card. The player must place a second bet equal to the original, and the additional card is placed face down and is not turned up until the bets are settled at the end; the player can’t hit the hand.
Keep in mind that you can double on a hand resulting from a split, which can triple or even quadruple your bet.
If a player wants to double down, he can place the second bet next to the first.
Place an Insurance Bet
The last option is to place an insurance bet. If the dealer’s face-up card is an ace, players can make a side bet (the insurance bet) of up to half the original bet that the dealer’s hole card is a ten-card. After the insurance bet is placed, the dealer looks at his hole card. If it is ten-card, the players who made the insurance bet are paid double the amount of their half-bet. All other players’ bets are then collected unless a player also has a blackjack, in which case a stand-off (tie) occurs. Insurance bets are usually not recommended.
How to Play Blackjack: The Rules Part Two
Players can do any of the above options until they either stand or bust. If the player goes bust, the dealer collects their bet, regardless of the dealer’s hand. The player is done for the rest of that round, and the dealer then moves to the next player.
Unlike players, the dealer has specific rules he must follow; the dealer can never split, double down or surrender. If any players remain by the end, the dealer then flips over the hole card and adds up the cards’ total. If the total is 17 or more, the dealer must stand; he can’t hit. If the cards are 16 or under, the dealer must hit until the total is 17 or more and then stand.
There are several variations on what the dealer should do if he has an ace and a seven, eight or nine; some casinos require the dealer to stand while others allow the dealer to hit.
At this point, the round is over, and bets are now settled.
Soft Hands Versus Hard Hands
Remember how the ace can count as a one or an 11? This provides more options for the player, so any hand with an ace and not a ten-card is called a “soft hand.” Any hand that doesn’t have an ace is considered a “hard hand.”
For example, if a player receives an ace and an eight, this is called a “soft 19.” They could have nine or 19 points, depending on how they count the ace. With 19 points, the player may not want to hit, as he is only two points from 21. With nine points, it might be a good idea to hit.
Now, let’s say the player originally counts the eight and ace as 19 and decides to hit. If the next card is, for example, a four, that makes the count 23, in which case the player would normally bust. However, the player can now decide to count the ace as a one, dropping the count to 13. The player now has at least one more chance to hit, if they want.
As mentioned before, the goal of the game is to get as close to 21 as possible without going over. However, the best way to win is to get a 21, which is called a “natural” or a “blackjack.” This usually happens when the two cards are an ace and a ten-card.
If a player has a natural and the dealer doesn’t the dealer pays that player one-and-a-half times their original bet. If the dealer does have a natural, they collect bets from all players without naturals. Now, if both the player and the dealer have naturals, the bet becomes a stand-off, and the player simply takes back their bet.
If a player goes bust, the player loses their bet, even if the dealer goes bust, too.
If the dealer goes bust, he must pay each remaining player their bet.
Now, if the dealer stands at 21 or less, he pays the bets of any player with a higher total and collects the bets of any player with a lower total.
If the case of a tie, no chips are paid or collected.
Digital Games Table
Now that you know how to play blackjack, it’s time to go play. One way of doing this is with a Digital Games Table.
With Digital Games Table, you can play with your friends and family on an interactive table that does all the dealing, shuffling and bet settling for you; this way, no one has to take turns being the dealer. Our dealer system cuts down on the time it takes to shuffle and deal, and it also eliminates any dealer errors that can happen.
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