Basics On How To Play Blackjack

Author: Gary Blaze

Blackjack is a game which originates from the 18th Century in France, and is now one of the most popular casino games in land casinos and as well as in most online casino gaming websites. The game was formerly called “Twenty-one”, “Vingt-et-un” in French, and “Veintiuna” in Spanish, for this card game also revolves around the number 21, being the highest value which can be obtained in the game. It was also known as “Pontoon”.

This card game became more popular with the name “Blackjack” when the game was introduced to the United State casinos. The game was quite unpopular in the US, so the gambling houses offered sorts of bonuses whenever a player will have an initial hand consisting of an Ace of Spades and any black Jack, either Jack of Spades or Jack of Clubs. This was the origin of the name “Blackjack”. Nowadays, the term “blackjack” applies to a “natural” or a hand which contains any Ace and any card with a face value of 10, in which the value is equivalent to 21, the highest value.

The objective of blackjack is, as the game origin depicts, to have a total hand value equal to, or closer to 21 and beat the dealer. However, if it exceeds 21, it is known as a “bust” and the player will lose. Cards with ranks from 2 to 9 of any suit have face values equal to their ranks. Cards of ranks 10, Jack, Queen, and King of any suit counts to 10 points each, while an Ace has a value of either 10 or 11, depending on the blackjack player’s choice. An Ace using the value of 11 plus any value, 3 for example, is termed as a “soft 14”. Likewise, if additional cards are dealt, such as 2, the term would be the word “soft” plus the total value (soft 16). If the hand consists of an Ace plus any 10-valued card, therefore it is a natural or a blackjack. An initial hand without an Ace, or with an Ace using the value of 1, is named with the word “hard” plus the immediate sum of the cards, such as a “hard 17” in case of a 9+8 hand.

The game is started by placing the bets in the betting spots. Online casino blackjack also starts in the same way. The dealer will then deal the players (usually from 1 to 7 players) with initial two cards each and to himself as well. The cards may be dealt from either 1, 2, 4, 6, or 8 card decks, depending on the casino’s preference. One of the dealer’s cards will be revealed to the players (the up card) while the other will still remain hidden (the hole card). The players will then play their hands, before the dealer does. Any player with a blackjack hand instantly wins against the dealer. If the dealer also scores a blackjack, then it is a tie or a “push”.

The players will play their hands first before the dealer. A player can decide on one of four (sometimes five) options if he does not score a blackjack. The first option is to “hit”, or to request the dealer to draw him another. The value of the card will be added to the initial value. If the player is not yet satisfied with his hand, he can hit for another card until his hand reaches a comfortable value. But if a card is hit and the total value exceeds 21, he “busts” and loses his bet.

The second option for the player is to “stand”, or not to take any additional card and stick with his hand value. This is mostly done when the initial hard value is quite high enough, such as a hard 18 or 20.

The third option is to “double down”, which means that the player would place an additional bet equal to his original bet. In exchange to this, he must take one additional card, and he cannot request a hit anymore.

The fourth option for the player is to “split a pair”. This means that if a player has been dealt any pair on his initial two cards, he has an option to separate and play these two cards, making two independent hands. He must place an additional bet equal to his original for the additional hand. However, if in case of two Aces and the player is dealt with any 10-valued card for any or both of the two separate hands, it is not considered as a blackjack and it will be beaten by a natural blackjack. Some casinos allow a player to double down on any or both of his hands after splitting. A player can split his pair for multiple times, or resplit, such as if a third card of the same rank as his pair has been hit, he can split the new pair and create a third hand, as well as add a third bet, and the same for the fourth and so on. However, he cannot split a pair if the hand containing it has more than two cards.

Some casinos offer a fifth and favorable option for the players. This is the “surrender” option, and as it implies, the player will surrender and will not play his card, but half of his bet will be taken. There are two types of surrender, namely the “early surrender” and the “late surrender”. Early surrender is only available before any of the options above is done. This early surrender disappeared in most of the casinos, but they still exist in some. The reason behind this is that players tend to surrender very often when the dealer’s up card (the revealed card) is an Ace. A “late surrender”, or the normal surrender, is available after the dealer has checked out his hole card.

Players also has a choice whether to place an “insurance”. An insurance is a side bet made by any player when the up card of the blackjack dealer is an Ace. Any player can bet up to half of his original bet, and if the dealer checks his hand and scores a blackjack, the bet wins and is paid double, equal to the loss of the player’s original bet if he does not have a blackjack and his insurance bet is equal to half of his original bet. If the banker does not have a blackjack, the insurance bet is lost, but the player can still play his hand.

After the players had played out their hands, the dealer will then play his hand, according to predetermined casino rules. He must hit if his initial hand has a value of 16 or lower, and must continute until his hand totals the value of hard 17 or more. He must stand if he has an initial hand value of hard 17, hard or soft 18 or higher values. He busts if upon hitting one or more cards, the hard total exceeds 21.

There is a separate rule if the dealer’s hand is equivalent to soft 17. The rule is either for the dealer to hit or not to hit on this value, which is depending on the casino. In “S17” blackjack, the casino rule states that the dealer must hit on a soft 17. He must stand on either hard or soft 17 otherwise in “H17” blackjack games.

The odds in payouts of winning players are different. The bet of a player without a blackjack hand but who wins against the banker is usually paid 1-to-1. Blackjack hands (except for a push) is usually paid at 3-to-2. Insurance, as stated above, has a payout of 2-to-1.

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