Blackjack is considered to be one of the most famous casino games in the world. There are unconfirmed theories that Blackjack originated in Rome as Romans were known to enjoy gambling. Researchers believe that the game originated in the 1700s in French Casinos. The French cards were referred to as Vingt-et-Un and translated into English as Twenty-One. Over the decades, this gambling card game was renamed and gained popularity as Blackjack. If you want to learn more about how to play Blackjack, then read on.
Blackjack – Getting Started
Blackjack is a gambling game where participants play against and try to beat a dealer who hosts the game. Unlike in other gambling games, participants here do not play against each other. A 52-card deck or standard deck is used to play the game. Casinos might play with multiple decks using as many as six decks at a time. A dealing shoe is a plastic device used to hold and dispense gaming cards. The game is played with two or more participants standing across a felt-covered semi-circular table from the dealer.
The Blackjack value of each card is mentioned below:
- Number cards (2 to 10) = Valued according to their rank
- Face cards (King, Queen, Jack) = Values at 10 points each
- Ace = Values as either 1 point or 11 points based on what is better for the hand
- Blackjack (natural): One Ace and any card of 10-point value
A player is provided two cards at the beginning of each round. If one of them is an ace, then the player has a soft hand. An absence of an ace among the pair of cards indicates a hard hand.
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How to play Blackjack? Rules of the Game
The several steps followed when playing Blackjack in a typical casino are mentioned below.
- Players buy chips and place their wagers:
Casinos do not allow any direct money play in Blackjack. Hence, a player needs to provide the dealer cash in exchange for casino chips. The dealer will then provide the player with chip denominations equivalent to the amount bought. Before the first round starts, players must place their bet in the betting circle or betting box. Every casino has its policy about the minimum and maximum bets a player can place.
- The dealer distributes or deals cards to the players:
The dealer starts the round by shuffling the deck of cards. The cards are then distributed to each player, including the dealer. Dealers distribute cards clockwise to the players on the left (first-base), ending with players on their right (third-base). The dealer places one card face-up for each player but places one card face-down (the hole card) for herself/himself. Next, the dealer will deal one more card to each player face up, including himself/herself. Every person on the table now has two cards, each facing up. The dealer is the only person with one card, each facing up and down.
- Players decide their play strategy:
Each player, starting from the dealer’s left, will play their hand. As a player, you would have two face-up cards in front of you. You would first need to add the card values and derive a total in the range of 4 to 21 points. If you have an ace and a 10-point value card in your first pair of cards, then it is a Blackjack. You have won and will get paid 1.5 times your wager (getting paid 3 to 2). You would then not be required to play the round further. If your dealer also has a Blackjack, you neither win nor lose your original wager. Such a tie between you and the dealer is also called push or standoff. If neither you nor the dealer has Blackjack, the game continues similarly with the remaining players. When your turn arrives again, you must play your hand using appropriate hand signals with the dealer. The five-play options available to you are:
- Stand – You choose not to take any more cards if your first pair is acceptable. Wave your hand horizontally to signal this.
- Hit – You can choose to take more cards without going over a total value limit of 21. If you overshoot the limit of 21, you go bust, i.e., you automatically lose. Tap the table with your finger to signal this.
- Double Down – You can choose to increase your bet by doubling your initial bet and taking one additional card. You must place additional chips equal to your original wager outside your betting box or circle and point with one finger to signal this.
- Split – If you get a pair of equal value cards, you can split the cards into two separate hands. You can then place an additional bet/ chip equal in value to your original bet. Point your fingers in a peace sign or V shape to signal this.
- Surrender – You can choose to give up before seeing the dealer’s cards. You can abandon the round in exchange for half of your initial wager if you feel you don’t stand a chance. You must verbally inform your dealer about your choice to surrender.
Blackjack Basic Strategy
Luck plays a role in Blackjack based on the cards you receive. The skill required is in learning Blackjack basic strategies and understanding when and how to apply them. These strategies improve your odds of winning by defining the optimal approach for playing each hand. These strategies were created by a computer playing several rounds of the game to determine the best combinations. The strategies are based on probabilistic combinations of the five plays for each hand that a player can choose. Several strategy cards defining the best play options are also available for reference. Memorizing these cards is a great way to improve your performance and winning chances in Blackjack. Examples of some basic strategies are mentioned below:
- If your total value is 17 (except if you have an ace) – Stand
- A total of 11 or less – Hit
- Aces and 8s – Split
- 11 points – Double Down
- You have 10 points while the dealer has 2 and 9 – Double Down
- Below 8 points – Never Double Down
- 4, 5, and 10 value cards – Never split
The above explanation is just an overview of how to play Blackjack. Becoming an expert will need several hours of play and learning of the Blackjack basic strategy thoroughly.
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