Also known as Twenty-One, Blackjack is the American version of the popular banking game. Played between several players and a dealer, it is a comparing card game. With simple rules, the game offers great excitement when played mathematically combined with high strategy. What makes blackjack unique from other card games is you do not play against other players. In blackjack, the players compete against the dealer.
Dating back to World War I time when blackjack was a very popular card game, it takes its genesis to 1760s in France and is known as Vingt-et-Un (French for 21). A prominent fixture at every American gambling casino, today, blackjack has a casino version and a home version with slightly different rules to them. In the casino version, the dealer is the house (“permanent bank”). While playing at the casino, the dealer remains standing, and all the players are seated. Here, the dealer is in charge of all aspects of the game – shuffling, dealing and handling all bets. In the home version, every player gets the opportunity to be the dealer (“changing bank”).
Let’s know the game a bit more in detail and the blackjack rules.
The standard 52-card deck is used for the game. But, at casinos, several decks are shuffled with the six-deck game (312 cards) being the most popular one. When four or more decks are used, the dealer deals the cards from a shoe (a box that holds the cards and allows the dealer to deal one card at a time).
The goal of the game is to beat the dealer by getting a count closer to 21 without going over 21. You can beat the dealer in three possible ways
1. Get a count of 21 with the first two cards known as “blackjack” or “natural” when the dealer does not.
2. Get a final score better or higher than the dealer without going over 21 or,
3. The dealer drawing more cards where the hand value going over 21
There are two ways to it
1. The dealer gets the count closer to 21 than you or,
2. You go over 21; you lose too.
Your game is not dependent on other players’ game at the table. You should always bear in mind that you are competing against the dealer.
Cards 2 through 10 are worth their point value. For example, card 2 is valued at 2. The face cards – King, Queen, and Jack cards value 10 points each. Ace is valued at either 1 or 11 depending whichever is more suitable for the hand.
The blackjack game begins with each player placing their bets. The dealer deals one card face up to each player including to himself starting from the clockwise direction. Cards are dealt another round but, this time the dealer deals the cards to the players face up except himself/ herself by placing the second card face down. Thus, in the two rounds of dealing of cards, the players receive two cards each face-up, while the dealer takes two cards – one face up and the other face down.
Before you start, it is important to know to know that how to play blackjack game. Here, the player has to buy the casino chips to bet. After the cards are dealt, the player who is to the left of the dealer is the first player to go. Each player has the below options to exercise.
• Hit indicates that the player wants one more card and is signalled by tapping the table.
• Stand indicates that the player does not want any more cards and is gestured by waving the hand above the table.
• Double down is when a player can increase the bet by 100% on the condition that the player would continue to stand by receiving one more card. The player signals it by placing additional chips beside the original and gesture by pointing with one finger. Doubling down happens when a player’s first two cards total up to nine, ten or eleven.
• Split is when the first two cards dealt are of the same value, the player has the option to split them into two hands. It is signalled by placing additional chips next to the original one and give a peace sign.
• Surrender: when the player would like to give up the game if his/ her hand is not promising enough, the dealer takes half the player’s bet while returning the rest. The player would signal by sliding the finger across the table to make a line.
There are three outcomes which the players can have during the game.
• Naturals/ Blackjack: when a player counts a point value of 21 with his/ her first two cards, i.e. when an Ace and a face card (King, Queen or Jack) is dealt, it is known as blackjack. It is essential that the player goes blackjack before the dealer.
• Bust: When the count value of the hand total goes over 21, it is called a bust.
• Push: When a player's total equal the point value of the dealer, it is known as a push.
A bet once paid by the player and collected by the dealer is not returned. The dealer has an advantage over the player as the player goes first. If the player goes bust, he/ she will lose his/ her bet. If the dealer goes bust too, the player would have lost the bet since the player is the first one to go.
1. Blackjack: The payout is 3:2, i.e. 150% of your bet. The player who goes blackjack receives three chips for every two chips.
2. Dealer busts: When the dealer busts, the dealer pays one times the bet to each hand at the table.
3. Higher hand: If your hand persists, and you have a higher hand, the dealer pays you one time the wager. If the dealer has a higher hand, they take the bet.
4. Same total: If you have the same total as that of the dealer then, which is considered a “push”, you keep your money, but you are not paid on your bet.
5. Surrender: If you surrender, you lose half of the original bet.
6. 17 or less: If dealer’s hand totals up to seventeen or less, the dealer is forced to hit to make the total closer to 21 and would take the course of a higher hand or the bust.
It brings to the end of the round, and another round begins.
If the dealer has an Ace as the face-up card, the player can insure his hand which is a side bet. The player can bet of up to half the original bet which will get paid 2 to 1 if the dealer has a ten as the face-down card. As a basic strategy, insurance is best avoided as only a card counter is skilled enough to play a side bet.
It is an optimal way to play blackjack online mathematically for every combination of the dealer face-up card and the player hand. Following the basic strategy may not assure you a win every time, but it cuts the dealer’s advantage to a certain extent.