It’s not enough to have a good hand at blackjack – it must also be better than the dealer’s. First, all players place their bets. The dealer then deals a card to each of the players, and lastly to himself. He deals another card to each player, with the second card the dealer dealt to himself being placed face down.
The card facing down is called the hole card. At this time, should the dealer’s face-up card be an ace, he will offer players the opportunity to place an insurance bet. After allowing for this second bet to be placed, the dealer would then peek at his hole card, only turning it over in the case of Blackjack. In this case, the dealer wins unless a player has the same hand. Without a case of Blackjack in the dealer’s hand, play continues.
Players then have a few options, depending on the cards in their hand:
Split a single hand with a pair of pip or 10 value cards, or a pair of aces. After splitting, the player will be able to treat the two separate hands normally. However, two hands made from a pair of aces that have been split can only receive one card each.
Hit or call for another card to be dealt to the player. The player can continue to hit until he decides to stand or ‘busts’.
Double announces that the player wishes to double the stakes and receive a lone card. Stand expresses that the player has finished playing out the hand after having split, or hit, or doubled. Surrender is an option only on the first two cards and results in giving up half of the bet to the dealer in order to keep the other half.
After all players have finished their play, the dealer will then turn over the ‘hole’ card. If the dealer has a 16 or under, he will draw more cards until he ‘stands’ with a hand of 17-21. Should the dealer not bust, any player who did not already bust and has a number higher than the dealers hand wins. When the dealer busts (goes over 21) all players who did not bust their hands win. As you can see, the aim is really to beat the dealer’s hand.
Winnings can be guaranteed, according to sites offering online guides to gameplay. The strategies proposed will rely upon vocabulary such as ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ hands, and ‘splits’. A hard hand is one without an ace or with an ace that counts as only one point, whereas a soft hand is one with an ace, whose point value has yet to be determined. With this first assessment having been made by the player, the player will respond to the dealer’s face-up card accordingly.
Between one and eight decks will be shuffled together and used to play the game of Blackjack. Live games, not played in an online simulation, usually take no more than two decks.
A hand that is scored as ‘Blackjack’ will pay 3 to 2 in most cases. It is not uncommon to find that tables pay 6 to 5 and, as this goes against tradition, traditionalists are not pleased. Online blackjack guides caution against playing such games since this adds to the house advantage. Nevertheless, many players claim that these games are better!
Ties result in a ‘push’, where the player receives back the exact amount of money he or she bet. All normal winnings pay evenly, such that if you bet 100, the dealer will pay you 100 to match your initial bet.
In the case that a player has a ‘soft’ hand, the ace value may change. Under normal circumstances, the value of an ace is 11. Should the player’s hand theoretically ‘bust’, the value of the ace will change to one.
For example, an ace and a six equal 17. If the play ‘hits’ and receives a 9, his hand would total 26, but only if the ace value remained the same. Instead, its value would change to one and result in a total of 16, and gameplay will continue.
Many of us started off playing blackjack with match sticks round the table at home. These days, blackjack is found throughout casinos worldwide; it is reportedly found in every land-based casino in the US. Even better, online forms of blackjack are readily available.
The best online casino sites even offer live games of blackjack, with a real dealer. The game is easy to understand after playing a couple of rounds. Log on to your favourite online casino and give it a try, and with a little bit of practice you might just be seeing some blackjack winnings.