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Blackjack 101: How to play Blackjack


AP - Photo: Blackjack

Blackjack Online or Offline is by far the most popular casino table game in the United States, with more players than craps, roulette, and baccarat combined.

Basic Rules of Blackjack:

Blackjack is played with one or more standard 52-card decks, with each denomination assigned a point value. The cards 2 through 10 are worth their face value. Kings, queens, and jacks are each worth 10, and aces may be used as either 1 or 11. The object for the player is to draw cards totaling closest to 21 without going over.

The best total is a two card 21, or a Blackjack. Blackjack pays 3-2 that is, a two card 21 on a $10 bet will win $15.00 instead of the usual $10 even money payoff on other winning hands. However, if the dealer also has a two card 21 then the hand pushes or ties and you just get your original bet back. But if the dealer goes on to draw 21 in three or more cards your Blackjack is still a winner with its 3-2 payoff.

The game is usually played at an arc shaped table with places for up to seven players on the outside and for the dealer on the inside. At one corner of the table is a rectangular placard that tells the minimum and maximum bets at that table as well as giving variations in common rules. For example, the sign might say, “Blackjack - $10 to $500 Split any pair four times. Double on any two cards”. That means the minimum bet at this table is $10and the maximum is $500. Pairs may be split according to the rules described below, and if more matching cards are dealt, the pairs may be split up to four times for a total of five hands. The player may double the original bet (Double Down) and receive just one more card on any two card total.

Most games today use four, six or eight decks. After being shuffled the cards are placed in a receptacle called a shoe from which the dealer can slide out one card at a time.

Play begins when you place a bet by stacking a chip or chips in the betting square on the table directly in front of you. After all bets have been placed each player and the dealer are given two cards. In a shoe game all player cards are dealt face up and only one of the dealer's cards is turned face up so the players can see it.

Once the cards have been dealt the players decide in turn how to play out their hands. This is typically done from dealer left to right. After all players have finished the dealer plays according to set rules: The dealer must draw more cards to any total of 16 or less and must stand on any total of 17 or more. In some casinos the dealer will also draw to "Soft" 17 a 17 including an ace or aces that could also be counted as a 7. The most common soft 17 is ace-6, but several other totals, such as ace-3-3 or ace-4-2.

Hitting: If you hit you take another card or cards in hopes of getting closer to 21. If the player's total exceeds 21 after hitting the player is said to "Bust" and loses the bet.
Stand: If you stand then you elect to draw no more cards in hopes that the current total will beat the dealer.

Double down: You may elect to double your original bet and receive only one more card regardless of its denomination. Some casinos restrict doubling down to hands in which your first two cards total 10 or 11. Others allow you to double on any two cards. Double down by taking a chip or chips equal to the amount of your original bet and placing them next to your bet.

Split: If your first two cards are of the same denomination, you may elect to make a second bet equal to your first and split the pair, using each card as the first card in a separate hand. For example; if you are dealt two 8s, you may slide a second bet equal to the first to your betting box. The dealer will separate the 8’s; then puts a second card on the first 8. You play that hand out in normal fashion until you either stand or bust; then the dealer puts a second card on the second 8 and you play that hand out.

Insurance: If the dealer's face up card is an ace, you may take "Insurance” which essentially is a bet that the dealer has a 10 value card down to complete a Blackjack. Insurance which may be taken for half the original bet pays 2-1 if the dealer has Blackjack. The net effect is that if you win the insurance bet and lose the hand, you come out even. For example, the player has 18 with a $20 bet down. The dealer has an ace up. The player makes a $10 insurance bet. If the dealer has Blackjack, the player loses the $20 bet on the hand but wins $20 with the 2-1 payoff on the $10 insurance bet. If the dealer does not have a Blackjack then the player losses the $10 insurance bet and the game continues as normal.

No need to go to a land based casino to play Blackjack. These days Blackjack is available at most of the online casinos.