Blackjack is known as the most popular casino table game in the world. Also known as “21,” the point of the game is to get as close to 21 points as you can without going over or “bust.” In order to win a Blackjack hand, you have to get closer to 21 than the dealer. Thus, when you’re at the Blackjack table you’re not competing against other players you’re playing against the dealer. Here’s a look at Blackjack rules and basics when played at a land-based casino.
Blackjack Setup and Rules
Blackjack features a dealer and one to seven players. It’s played at an arc shaped table; each hand is played separately against the dealer. The games uses from one to eight 52-card standard decks.
Card vales are assigned in the following manner:
• 2-10 are valued at their face worth.
• Jack, Queen, King are worth 10 points each.
• Ace is worth either one or 11.
The hands are dealt to each player and to the dealer from left to right with the dealer getting the final card. Each person at the table is dealt two cards as is the dealer. The player cards are dealt facedown, while one dealer card is exposed, being dealt up, and the other is facedown.
The basic payout on Blackjack is 3:2. That is for every $2.00 you wager, you win $3.00. Thus, if you bet $2.00 and win you hand then you receive a $3.00 profit plus your initial wager of $2.00 for a total of $5.00. If you wager $4.00, you’ll win $6.00 and receive $10.00 total.
A Round of Blackjack
Prior to dealing the cards, bets are placed. Cards are dealt either from one or two hand-held decks, from a shoe, which holds from four to eight decks, or from an automatic shuffling machine. Most land-based casinos use from four to eight decks and either a shoe or shuffling machine. Either of these makes card counting virtually impossible.
Once the cards have been dealt, players may have up to five options. They may:
• Stand, which means the player will simply play the two cards they are dealt as they are close to having 21.
• Hit, which means they will take another card in an attempt to get closer to 21.
• Double down, which is where a player doubles their wager prior to being dealt a third card. When Doubling Down the player must take one more card, playing the three cards.
• Split a pair, which occurs when a player is dealt two cards of the same value. The player makes a second bet, equal to their first and the dealer separates the pair and the player now plays two hands.
• Surrender, which occurs after the dealer has looked at his cards. A player may then give up half his bet and not play the hand. This is not offered at all casinos.
The Dealer and 17
Rules vary from casino to casino and sometimes from table to table as to what the dealer must do when they have 17 points. At many casinos, the dealer must simply stand when they have 17. At others, the dealer will stand on a “hard” 17 and hit on a “soft” 17.
Examples of a “soft” 17 are A, 6; A, 5, A and A, 2, 4. These are deemed soft because the ace can be worth either one or 11. In this case, an ace is considered to be worth one. A “hard” 17 would be 8, 9; K, 7 or 9, 4, 4. Dealers have to stand on hard 17. Hitting on the soft 17 gives the casino a little more of an advantage.
Basic Backjack Strategy Charts
The following charts are designed to act as a guide regarding what you should do when holding specific cards. These charts are made for games of Blackjack that:
• Use four to eight decks.
• Allow you to double your bet after a split.
• Allow you to double down on any two cards.
The following key may be used with the chart above and those below.
The following charts look at hands with soft totals and pairs.
Enjoy the Game
Many people don’t consider their visit to a casino to be complete until they’ve played at least a few hands at the Blackjack table. This article has given the basic rules. Remember that rules vary from casino to casino and sometimes even from table to table. Always review the casino’s rules prior to playing. Enjoy Blackjack and remember that in order to win you don’t have to hit the perfect hand of 21 or blackjack, but it sure does help.