Blackjack is a game played against the dealer, considered one of the best table games to play at an online or land-based casino; it can be a game of skill, peppered with some strategy and scoopfuls of luck. The blackjack rules are very straightforward: to get as close to 21 without going over. Also known as 21 worldwide, blackjack has many variants and elements that make the game fun and exciting. This article will provide a comprehensive guide to playing blackjack, understand the rules, and talk about strategies and general pointers to help you.
The blackjack rules are straightforward — the game is played with 6 - 8 decks of cards in a shoe. All the cards have a face value of 2 - 10, picture cards known as court cards, Jack, Queen and King, all valued at 10. Aces can be valued at 1 or 11, depending on the situation.
The game commences when the dealer shuffles the cards and then cuts the cards. The dealer deals out two cards face up to each player, then one card down and one up to themselves. The player's objective is to get close to 21 without going over (in this situation, this is called busting). The dealer aims to get close to 21 or get the player to bust.
Once the dealing is complete, the dealer will start with the first player; at this stage, the player can choose from the following actions, depending on the player's cards and what the dealer's face card up is, they can either:
Hit: The player is dealt another card to improve their hand value. At this point, the player can request as many cards as they want until they get a valued hand, hit 21, or bust.
Stand/Stick: This situation allows the player to stop taking any more cards and is happy to stick with the hand they have.
Double Down: In this situation, the player can double their initial bet but only receive one more card. This is considered a risky strategy at the best of times; however, it is potentially rewarding if that one card hits a high-valued hand and the dealer has a weak turn-up card.
Split: There will be times when a player has the same valued cards; in this situation, you can split the cards and play them as independent hands, equalling the same wager. In most casinos, you can split up to four times; however, this is down to the discretion of the casino.
Surrender: In this situation, it depends on what variant you play. It’s when the player throws away their hand rather than play on or stand. In this case, the player will lose half of the stake and patiently wait for the next hand to start.
Insurance: Blackjack insurance is a side bet offered to the player if the dealer’s up card is an ace, as insurance against the dealer's hand being blackjack. Blackjack insurance odds usually pay out 2/1
As all the players around the table finish their actions, the dealer opens up their face-down card and plays the hand to the rules. The dealer must hit 16 or less and stand on 17 or more. There are occasions, however, when a dealer hits a soft 19 with an ace; some variations of blackjack may not let you stand on a soft 19 and in other casinos, they may let you stand.
The showdown is dictated by comparing the player's and dealer's best hand values. There are three possible outcomes:
The player wins if their hand is closer to 21 than the dealer or the dealer busts
The dealer wins if their hand is closer to 21 than the player’s or if the player busts
The hand is a tie or a push if the dealer and player have the same valued hand. In this situation, the player’s stake is returned.
Blackjack is a skilled game the majority of the time; however, to improve your chances, you must follow a number of strategies that suit the player. Every situation in every hand deserves a strategy, so you have the best chance of beating the dealer. Strategy is based on mathematical calculations and probabilities; it can reduce the house edge to 0.5%, which may be lower depending on how many decks are used.
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We have compiled several tips to help players play better blackjack and have more fun:
Learn Basic Strategy and Stick to It
When playing any form of blackjack, be it online or land-based casinos, it will serve you to always have a blackjack strategy at the back of your mind; of course, a lot of the cards shown initially will be based on mathematical calculations; however, this will determine if your action is going to be a hit, stand, split or even double down. By keeping to a format and routine of your own, you will reduce the house edge in the long run and start to reap the awards of good strategy and good play.
Choose the Right Blackjack Game
Many casino card games, including blackjack, have many variants to the game, blackjack being one of the games that can shift in your favour just by a good strategy and understanding of the game. That said, it is also essential to know that many of the games have varied odds and payouts; a case in point is that some casinos will only pay out 6:5 on blackjack instead of the usual 3:2. Those odds alone increase the house edge by 1.4%, which is a massive disadvantage for the player. Another case in point is you should look for a casino where the dealer stands on soft 17 rather than hit, as this also gives you a slight edge. Many online and land-based casinos play with 6-8 decks of cards; finding a casino with at least five decks is very unusual. Another house edge to look for is a casino that will double down with any two cards and offer late surrender.
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Manage Your Bankroll Wisely
Suppose there was a recommendation on the do’s and don’ts of managing your bankroll whilst gambling and not just in blackjack. Top of the agenda would be never chase your losses and never get angry if you are on a losing streak. Again, keeping with a strategy and a plan will save you emotionally, psychologically and your bank balance, of course. Many players like to adjust their bet size after every couple of hands or double their bet if they win a hand. In the gambling world, many betting systems are devised and worked out over time; that said, it is best to keep your judgement and strategy; that way, all the responsibility is on you.
Use Card Counting and Other Advanced Techniques
Like with many casino card games, a player will always have a slight edge if they know how to card count. Card counting is a process of sighting all the high and low cards and seeing when they are dealt back; this would be an excellent opportunity to see if the deal is rich in high cards such as 10s and Aces at this point, this would be a perfect opportunity to increase your bet size and have better odds to hit a blackjack. The same goes if the cards are showing in low cards such as 2’s to 6’s; it would be better to keep to minimum bets. Card counting isn’t illegal but is frowned upon by the casinos. If caught, you may face a lengthy ban.
Of course, other, more advanced techniques can help you win at blackjack, Like shuffle tracking, hole carding and ace sequencing. These techniques involve high levels of observation and exploration of the patterns and flaws of the deal; these techniques are highly intricate and complex to master and will take many hours of table time to master.
DISCLAIMER: We would like to emphasize that gambling is risky and should not be used to resolve financial difficulties. The saying "the house always wins" is worth keeping in mind.
If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, we firmly advise you to call the Gamblers Anonymous at 1-626-960-3500 to speak with an expert about getting assistance and making gambling safer for you or your friends and loved ones. Remember that all gaming websites and instructions are intended for people aged 19 and above.
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