The game of blackjack is a hugely popular casino card game. It is played in live casinos throughout the globe as well as on the Internet with online blackjack software. The game has been around for centuries, with roots in Ancient Rome, Spain, the French game of Vingt-et-Un and more.
The Rules of Blackjack
Blackjack is a game of simple rules. Played against the dealer, the objective of the game is to achieve a hand that is worth more than the dealer’s hand without breaking 21, resulting in busting.
Blackjack rules state that hand values are determined by adding together the values of the cards that make up the hand. Cards numbered 2 through 10 are worth their face value (i.e. a 5 is worth 5 points); face cards are worth 10 points each; and Aces are worth either 1 point or 11 points, whichever is best for your hand.
A game of blackjack begins with players placing bets. Depending on the game you are playing the minimum bet could be very low or extremely high. There are low limit blackjack games as well as no limit blackjack games where players can bet their entire bankroll. If you don’t want to bet real money then you can play free blackjack online with fun money.
Once all bets are placed the dealer deals out the cards. Each player receives two cards face up on the table. The dealer takes two cards for himself as well, but places one face up and one face down. Based on these cards players must decide what to do next. The players have several options. These options are as follows:
- Stand - When a player stands they keep their hand as-is and do not accept more cards from the dealer
- Hit - When a player hits they accept more cards from the dealer to increase the value of their hand
- Double Down – When a player doubles down they double their initial bet and accept one additional card
- Split - If a player’s initial hand is a double they may split it into two separate hands
- Surrender - A player may forfeit half of their bet and leave the game
Once all players are satisfied with their hands the dealer reveals his card. If his hand is worth 16 or less he must hit. If his hand is worth hard 17 (7-10) or higher he must stand. Depending on the game you are playing the dealer may or may not hit on soft 17 (6-Ace). Once the dealer’s hand is settled the winners are determined.
Players who have a hand that is higher than the dealer are paid. Payouts work as follows:
- Players that beat the dealer are paid. Regular hands usually pay even money while beating the dealer with “blackjack” (an Ace plus a 10 point card) pays 3:2 or 6:5, depending on where you are playing.
- Players that tie the dealer do not win or lose their bet.
- Players that bust by breaking 21 or that are beat by the dealer lose their bet.
- Depending on the game you are playing a dealer blackjack may or may not win out over a player blackjack.
Blackjack odds are the probability of a player beating the dealer in blackjack. Odds are dependent on a variety of factors including the dealer’s up card, the player’s hand and the game rules. Specific blackjack rules, such as the dealer hitting on soft 17, a 3:2 blackjack payout, and allowing players to double down on any hand give the player more of an advantage. Other blackjack rules aim the odds more in the favor of the casino.
Learning about blackjack odds is an imperative part of basic blackjack strategy. Odds charts will tell you the best and proven moves in any situation. For instance, if you have a hand worth 18 and the dealer’s up card is a 3, blackjack odds will tell you that you should always stand.
As mentioned above, learning about blackjack odds is one of the fundamental parts of blackjack strategy. You can find strategy charts online as well as in books about blackjack strategy. It is also important to learn the blackjack rules inside and out. If you know how and when to double down, split and surrender in addition to hitting and standing you can greatly increase your chances of winning at blackjack. It is also important to note that different blackjack variations have different rules so familiarize yourself with the rules of the game you will be playing before you start wagering money.
Once you are knowledgeable about basic blackjack rules, strategy and odds you can move on to more advanced strategies. One of the best ways to reduce the house advantage in blackjack is counting cards. Counting cards does not require memorizing the cards that are dealt. Rather, through card counting you can keep a tally of the high cards to low cards that remain in the deck and adjust your betting and decisions accordingly. Some basic blackjack card counting methods include Knock Out Blackjack, the Hi Lo method, KISS and Omega II.
Money management is also a key factor in blackjack strategy. Blackjack money management requires control. You should never bet more than you are willing to lose. Set a stop loss limit for yourself and when you have lost that amount stop for the day. By the same token you should set a stop win limit. When you stop when you’re ahead you can hold on to your winnings and minimize your losses.
Playing online blackjack is one of the best ways to learn the rules of blackjack as well as to practice blackjack strategy. Online blackjack uses the same rules as live blackjack and can be played for free or for real money.