Playing Blackjack

By | Sep 13, 2013

The game of blackjack, formerly called “21” is one of the most widely played casino game.  It requires knowledge, skill, and strategy from the player.  Although the objective is quite simple, the strategy can be quite complex.  So much so that you can buy blackjack strategy guides to keep with you at the table.  In this article, we’ll discuss the basics of blackjack and share one such strategy card.

Note:  If you’re reading this, then you’re probably not an experienced player.  Playing at a land casino with other players can be a daunting experience.  They seem to be able to count their cards so fast and know what to do in every situation; meanwhile, you’re adding on your fingers and consulting your strategy card.  I recommend taking the pressure off by playing a few hands of blackjack online.  Go to a reputable online casino USA and practice with no pressure.

Blackjack is played at a semi-circle-shaped table with places for 5 to 7 people around the curved side, and a place for one dealer along the flat side.  There are places marked on the felt playing surface for where you place your bets.  Typically, 8 standard decks are shuffled together and put into the shoe from which they are then dealt.  Bets are placed, then the dealer gives each player two cards as well as himself, but only one of his cards is face up.  The other is the “hole” card.  The dealer takes a peak at the hole card but doesn’t reveal it unless it is a blackjack (two cards equaling 21 points).

The objective for the player is to have their hand equal 21, or at least closer to 21 than the dealer without going over (also called “busting”).  The card values in blackjack are as follows:  Aces are worth 1 or 11, whatever is best for the hand; cards 2-10 are face value; Jacks, Queens, Kings are all worth 10.

In this game, each player goes head-to-head with the dealer, not each other.  Once the bets are placed and two cards are dealt to each player, the dealer looks at his “hole” card.  If it’s blackjack (two cards totaling 21 points), he flips it over and takes your wagers for the house, or let’s you keep it if you also have blackjack (because that’s a tie, and neither of you win (also known as a “push”).   If the dealer’s hole card doesn’t make a blackjack, the dealer goes from player to player sitting at the table, asking whether they want to hit or stay.  If a player busts, their cards are cleared at this time and their bet is taken for the house.  After each player has hit or stayed or busted, the dealer reveals his card and hits as necessary according to the rules.  It is as this point that it is determined who gets paid and who loses.

Blackjack pays 3:2.  So, that means if you have a blackjack and the dealer doesn’t (in which case you’d push) you get paid $3 for every $2 you wagered.  If you wagered $100, you’d win $150 plus you keep your initial wager.  To figure this out, I divide my wager in half, then multiple that by 3.  Like this, $100/2=$50×3=$150.  A non-blackjack winning hand (means you didn’t get a true blackjack but the dealer busted or your hand was higher than his) pays 1:1.  For every $1 you wagered, you get paid $1.  This is called “even money”.  If I wagered $10, I’ll win $10 plus keep my initial wager.  Insurance bets (when the dealer has an Ace showing and you are betting that he has a 10 underneath) pay 2:1.  This means twice what you wagered.  If you bet $20, you’ll win $40 plus you keep your initial wager.

The hardest part of blackjack comes from knowing when to hit, stay, split, or double down.  Here is a chart showing when to do what.  Your actions depend not only on your cards, but what the dealer is showing as well.

I hope that this information helped you get on your way to understanding the basic structure and objective of blackjack.  Feel free to print off this strategy card to use at the blackjack table, or do some research of your own to find one specific to a particular casino.  Have fun and gamble responsibly.

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