Blackjack is one of the most popular card games played in any casino. The object of the game is to be the player with the cards whose face value comes closest to a total of 21 without passing that number. Hence the other name for blackjack, 21. It seems like a simple idea, but this game has more nuance and challenge than you think. Here is everything you’ll ever need to know to play blackjack.
1. Blackjack Does Not Mean 21
The two names of the game, blackjack and 21, come from the two different ways there are to win the game. Reaching 21 is the goal in the broadest sense. Blackjack is the best way of winning because it’s when you get 21 automatically. A blackjack is when the first two cards you are dealt immediately total 21: that means getting a card with a value of ten and an Ace. Blackjack wins also pay out more, but more on that a little later.
2. The Card Values
The numbered cards all have the value of the number written on them. The suits don’t count for anything. For example, 5 of Spades=5, 2 of Hearts=2, etc. The court cards—the Jacks, Queens and Kings—are all valued at ten points each. Aces go two ways, whichever works better for your hand: they can either equal 1 point or 11 points.
It takes two to tango, and also to play blackjack. Except that there may be other people at the table with you. They don’t matter. You only need to come closer to 21 than the dealer does to win. Try not to let how other people are playing on the table affect your laser focus.
Blackjack tables will also say how much more you get for the original money you put down. The problem is that with the higher number the better the house odds of winning are. Most casinos don’t even offer blackjack that pays 2 to 1 since it is so much more favorable for the player. Stick to 3 to 2 games because the odds of winning 6 to 5 are heavily in the house favor.
If you win with 21, you get your money back plus the same amount. If you win with a blackjack, you get to win your original bet times 1.5. That means winning with a blackjack on a £200 bet nets you your original £200 back plus £300. If you draw, or push, as it’s called in blackjack, you just get your original bet back.
If you lose, either by having the dealer get closer to 21 than you or by going bust, you lose your initial bet. There are surrenders too: in the event of a bad hand after the initial deal, you can give up and get half of your original bet back.
The dealer deals two cards to each player and one face up to the dealer. Your cards can both be face up, or one up and one down. Like we explained before, you can get a blackjack just on these two cards. Most likely that won’t happen all of the time. Now what do you do?
1.Hitting or Standing
You can either hit or stand. Hit will give you an additional card. Taking a hit means that you risk going over 21, which means you lose automatically. That’s called going bust. You stand if you want to use the total value of your initial two cards as your final score.
2. Double Down and Surrendering
If you stand and are really sure that you’ll win the hand you can double down and increase your original bet as much as two times the original wager. If you think your hand is unwinnable, now is the time to surrender.
If you are dealt two cards with the same face value you are allowed to split them, and play them as if they were two separate hands. This is useful if you are dealt two 8s, which add up to 16, which is statistically the worst hand in the game. You now get dealt two more cards, one for each half of the split. You really increase your odds of winning this way.
If the dealer’s up card is an ace, you can make a side bet called an insurance bet that the dealer will get a blackjack.
5. The Dealer Reveals
The dealer’s second card is dealt, showing who came closest to 21. The dealer can lose by going bust at this point, even if your hand is nowhere near 21.