Blackjack has been one of the most popular casino games for decades. It is fun and exciting and one of the things that sets it apart from other casino games is the interaction that the players have. Unlike slot machines, roulette, video poker, or many other games where you simply place your bet and wait for the outcome, blackjack offers players the opportunity to make decisions that will affect the outcome of the game. It is a game where skill plays a part in whether you win or lose rather than simply relying upon luck. Its popularity has endured for many years and it is just as popular in online casinos as it is in land based casinos.
Blackjack rules are not complicated and are easy enough to learn but there are also some rule variations from one casino to the next and it is important to know the rules before you play the game.
Shuffling and Dealing the Cards:
Blackjack can be played with one deck of cards or as many as six decks and many online casinos will shuffle the decks after each hand to make sure that the cards are dealt as randomly as possible. After placing their bets, each player and the dealer will receive two cards. The dealer will have one card face down so that the players cannot see it and one card face up and visible to the players.
The goal of this game is to get the total value of your cards as close to 21 as possible without going over. If your hand is greater than the dealers you will win, if it is less than the dealer’s total or if you exceed 21, you will lose. Cards 2 through 10 are equal to their face value. Face cards i.e. Jacks, Queens, and Kings have a value of 10. Aces can be counted as either 1 or 11, whichever is most beneficial.
Hitting, Standing, Pushing, and Busting:
After all of the cards are dealt you have the option to either hit or stand. If you wish to receive another card to get your total closer to 21 you would take a hit. A card would be dealt face up and added to your total. When you’re satisfied with your hand you will stand which means you will not take any additional cards. If you hit to a total greater than 21 you bust and the dealer wins. If your total is closer to 21 than the dealer’s total, you win and will be paid even money for your wager. If your hand matches the dealer’s total it is known as a push which is a draw and your bet is left alone.
You have the option to stand whenever you like and you can hit as many times as you like until you exceed 21. In Blackjack rules are a little different for the dealer. The dealer does not get to decide when to hit or stand. The way the dealer plays is dictated by the rules of the game. The dealer must hit until they reach a total of 17 or greater. In many casinos the dealer must hit a soft 17. A soft hand is one in which an ace can be used as either 1 or 11. For example if the dealer holds a 6 and an ace, this would be considered a soft 17 because the total can be interpreted as either 7 or 17. If the dealer held a 10, a 6, and an ace, this would be considered a hard 17 because the ace can only be used as a 1 in this situation or the dealer would bust. If the dealer busts, the players win their wagers.
A “Blackjack” is when you reach a total of 21 after being dealt your first two cards. Any 10 or face card and an ace would give you a Blackjack which is also known as a “natural.” If you receive a Blackjack you win automatically and your wager is paid off at 3 to 2 which is also known as “time and a half” because it is 1 1/2 times your original wager. If the dealer receives a Blackjack, the dealer wins automatically and takes all of the players bets.
In addition to the hitting and standing rules discussed above, players have some additional options available. A player has the option to split any two cards of the same value. For example, if a player is dealt two 8’s the player has the option to split the 8’s. If the player would like to exercise this option they would place an additional wager equal to their original bet, the 8’s would be split, and an additional card would be dealt to each 8 so that the player is effectively playing two separate hands at this point. From this point on the same rules about hitting, standing, pushing, and busting apply. If a player wishes to split a pair of aces, Blackjack rules at most casinos will only allow one card to be dealt to each ace with no additional hitting permitted.
Another option available to the players is to double their bet after seeing their first two cards. The player might wish to do this if they had a hand that was likely to improve with a hit and if the dealer’s up card is one that indicates that they might have a weak hand. This gives the player a chance to double their bet and take advantage of this opportunity. Blackjack rules in some casinos only allow players to double down on 10 or 11 while other casinos allow the players to double down with any two cards.
The Blackjack rules discussed above come into play on the majority of the hands you will be dealt. The following rules will apply to a smaller percentage of the hands you’re dealt and will not be used as often but are still important to be aware of.
This option is not available at all casinos but where it is available it falls into two categories, early surrender or late surrender.
Early surrender gives the player the option to forfeit after seeing their hand and the dealers up card. If a player has a weak hand and the dealer is showing a strong up card the player may choose to surrender before seeing the dealer’s hole card. When you surrender, the house takes 50% of your wager rather than risking losing the entire amount bet.
Late surrender, if offered where you’re playing, gives the player the option to forfeit their hand for 50% of their wager after the dealer checks their hole card and determines that they do not have a natural 21.
Insurance is offered to the players when the dealer shows an ace face up. An insurance bet equal to half of your initial wager would be placed if you believe the dealer has a natural 21. If the dealer does not have a natural you would lose your insurance bet and the remainder of the hand would be played out as usual. If the dealer does in fact have a natural Blackjack your initial wager would be lost but the insurance bet pays 2 to 1 effectively letting you break even on the hand.
If a player is dealt a Blackjack and the dealer is showing an ace face up, the player has the option to accept even money and be paid immediately. If the player chooses not to take the even money proposition the hand would be played and if the dealer has a blackjack this would result in a push. If the dealer did not have a “natural” the player would be paid at 3 to 2 for their blackjack.
Blackjack rules are not terribly complicated and with a little practice this game can be enjoyed by just about anyone. Blackjack is a great game and has been among the most popular of all casino games since the day it was first offered. Online blackjack offers players the opportunity to play from the comfort of their own homes or from anywhere with an internet connection for that matter. There is no need to make travel arrangements or stay in expensive hotels. Just turn on your computer and you can be visiting your favourite casino in a matter of minutes.