Card Games Home
Featured Card Games
Playing The Classic Game of Blackjack
The card game known as Blackjack is one of the most popular games in the world, largely due to its elements of chance and skill. The legends of card counters and the bright lights of casinos have also added to the allure, and the explosion of the online gambling market and televised gambling tournaments have attributed to its continued growth.
While tournament forms do exist, the classic version of Blackjack pits the player against a dealer. The player's cards must total as close to 21 as possible without going over. The closest person to 21 wins the round (and the pot, if money is on the line).
History of the Game
Historians claim that Blackjack is comprised of several historic games such as Quinze, Trente-Quatre, Vingt-et-Un, and Seven-and-a-Half. These games originated in medieval Europe, and any modern form of Blackjack is much different than those early versions.
The French relative of Blackjack, Vingt-et-Un, came to America in the late 1800s. The game was popular as more of a private activity, but it began to appear in American gambling halls around 1910. By this point, the game was known as Twenty-One.
The game, however, did not attain the level of popularity hoped for by casino owners. To attract players, owners offered generous bonuses and payouts. One of these bonuses was a 10 to 1 payout if the player's hand consisted of the ace of spades and a black jack. This hand became known as a blackjack, and the name stuck. The bonus, however, was discontinued a few years later.
Rules of the Game
The score in a hand of Blackjack is determined by adding up the total of a player's cards. The values are as follows:
Ace = Can either be worth 1 or 11 points.
The hand with the highest total wins as long as it does not exceed 21. A hand which goes higher than 21 is said to "bust." A two-card hand comprised of an ace and a 10-point card is called a blackjack or "natural.". If both the dealer and player bust, the player is still the loser of the hand. If the dealer and player both end the hand with the same point value, then the hand is said to be a "push," and no there is no winner.
To begin play, a minimum bet must be made. In many casinos, the minimum bet is $5, although some establishments require a much higher minimum. After initial bets are placed, the dealer deals the cards. It should be noted that Blackjack can be played without wagering money. Friendly games are often dealt from one deck, while casinos often deal from a show (which contains four or more decks of cards shuffled together).
The dealer gives two cards to each player. These cards are dealt face-down. The dealer also gives himself 2 cards, one of these is face-down (called the "hole card"), while the other card is face-up.
If either the dealer or player has a blackjack after the first two cards, then they win the hand. If both the dealer and player have a blackjack, the hand is considered a push and no winner is declared. If neither side has a blackjack, then the hand is played out.
The player now has several options. They are:
The dealer adds another card to the player's hand.
The player opts to not take additional cards.
The player doubles the wager and each card (of a two-card hand) becomes the first card in a new hand. This is usually only available if both cards have the same value (2 tens, 2 eights, etc.). Two face cards might also be allowed for a split, since both cards would be worth 10 points.
4. Double Down
The player doubles their wager, takes one more card, and then is forced to stand.
If the player thinks he's going to lose, he can choose to surrender by losing half his bet and giving up on the hand. Many casinos no longer offer this option.
After making their decisions, the player's turn is then over. If the player busts in the process, they lose the hand regardless of what the dealer has.
Once all players have made their decisions, the dealer now turns up his hole card and continues to play the hand. The dealer may not double down, surrender, or split. They can only choose to hit or stand. Regardless of what score the player has, the dealer is required to hit until he or she has a score of at least 17. If the dealer busts, then all remaining players win. Bets are generally paid out at 1 to 1odds.
If the dealer's upcard is an ace, then players are offered the opportunity of taking insurance before the dealer looks at his hole card. Taking insurance allows you to bet up to half of your original bet and protects you in case of a dealer blackjack. If the dealer does hit a blackjack, insurance pays off at 2 to 1 odds.
Because it has a negative expected value for the player, most experts advise against taking insurance. Of course, this advice might change if you happen to be a seasoned card counter.
While the casino has a statistical edge over the player, Blackjack allows the player to choose his or her own moves. In fact, by playing what is called "basic strategy," a skilled player can reduce the house edge to a very small percent.
Basic strategy is based on the player's point total and the dealer's visible card. This strategy determines when the player should hit, stand, split, or double down. Under ideal conditions, the house edge against a solid basic strategy player can dip to as low as 0.16%.
To get the most for your money, it is wise to double and/or split in order to maximize returns. When done at the proper time, the house edge can once again be greatly lowered.
Online Blackjack Bonus
You can find online blackjack bonus information at this site, which is somewhat aimed at UK players. Usually casinos offer to match a percentage of your deposit in order to incentivize you to play there. Some of the best offers can be found on that site.
Card Games Cafe is Copyright 2007 - 2008. All rights reserved, no unauthorized duplication.