Blackjack Guide: the Ins and Outs of this Card Game!

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Blackjack Guide

Unlike some casino games, like slots, blackjack is generally considered to be a game requiring some serious intellectual skills; in particular, mathematical ones! The art of counting and memorizing cards increases your chances of getting the edge over the house, even if many novices and even experienced players do neglect this simple (though necessary!) rule. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that if you have never been too much into math, then you only have a slim chance of ever becoming one of those skillful punters who play blackjack for real money. You can always use your savvy or just rely on your luck, although these are not actually the best options for you at all! Either way, it is of essential importance for you to understand the basic rules of the game once you decide to play blackjack for real money; otherwise, you’re pretty unlikely to have any success at the blackjack table, let alone getting anywhere near the Blackjack Hall of Fame.

The origin of blackjack is unclear; and the question of who invented this table game also remains a mystery. The first reference to the game appears in the book “Rinconete y Cortadillo,” by the Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes. In this text, he refers to blackjack as twenty-one; nowadays, this is considered to be the game’s second name. Indeed, the rules of the card game haven’t entirely changed since then – and today, just like back in the days of Cervantes, the objective is to get 21 points, but no more. The basic concept of the game is frequently misunderstood, though: if you go over 21, you’ll definitely lose, but if you simply try and find the cards that will give you the exact figure of 21 points, this is actually not the most effective blackjack strategy by any means!

There are no known references to where twenty-one actually originated. Its contemporary version, i.e. blackjack, began in the United States; even though there are not many remnants of European blackjack left nowadays. When the game was introduced to the US market, casinos slightly altered the rules, with the aim of luring perspective players to play blackjack for real money. One of the major changes implemented was a ten-to-one payout. This was paid out when the player’s hand consisted of the ace of spades and a blackjack (either the jack of clubs or the jack of spades). The hand itself was called blackjack, hence the name of this updated version of twenty-one. This special hand was soon abolished, but ever since the early days of blackjack, the new name has stuck.

Blackjack: What It Is and How to Play It

The first stubborn misconception among blackjack players is that it is a game of fun and relaxation; i.e., it is frequently confused with slots. But contrary to popular belief, playing blackjack for real money requires intense concentration and a very serious attitude! Whenever you start playing at the blackjack table, you can feel the tension in the air, all the way through the game. In fact, even the game rules are devised in such a way that gamblers are obliged to remain silent during the round, while all the actions are made by gestures. The only verbal gesture you need to make is when you’re surrendering the match!

The guide to playing blackjack is pretty simple; but before getting to it, it’s crucial to understand the basic factors of the card game. Every table in land-based casinos accommodates between 2 and 7 players, all of whom are playing against the live dealer. The latter deals two cards to each player, as well as to himself/herself. One is face up (visible) and another is face down, aka “hole hard” (hidden); this is so that the players can see the dealer’s card, as the latter is something that necessarily influences the decisions they are going to make.

Cards Value

Betting Card Value in Blackjack

A shoe (a box out of which the dealer takes cards) contains from 1 to 8 decks. Each shoe has 52 cards; the values of the cards range from 2 to 11. The number of decks depends on the variation of blackjack you are playing; and as the study shows, the more cards are in the shoe, the more advantage the house (casino) has. In such a case, you have far fewer chances to get the biggest blackjack win in history.

Soft and Hard Hands

Blackjack beginners may find the game’s terminology slightly confusing – sometimes even strange – and the best example of this is soft and hard hands. Your blackjack strategy guide is basically based on the hand you have; and your move should be made on the basis of whether it’s soft or hard; try and find out!

  • Soft hand. The meaning of this is pretty straightforward: your hand is soft when it has an ace, which can have a value either of 11 or 1 points. A soft hand gives you a “free hand” to decide the value of the ace you have, as well as to determine your next move (based on the dealer’s cards).
  • Hard hand. A hard hand is any combination of cards that doesn’t have an ace. This does limit your decisions, as the odds of exceeding 21 points are pretty high.

Blackjack Soft and Hard Hand

Blackjack Table Guide: Winning Move

The tension develops right after the cards are dealt. From that moment on, the players should carefully study their cards as well as the dealer’s face-up card; in order to be able to think carefully about their next moves.

For as we’ve already said above, the objective is to beat the dealer; and the easiest way to do this is to get a blackjack!

A Blackjack Is a Combination of an Ace and a Ten Card.

As the statement above makes clear, it is only possible to hit a blackjack with the first two cards you have received – in which case, these will provide you with a win of 3:2 over your initial bet, meaning that you’ll receive one and a half times the original bet you placed. All other scenarios are subject to the following movements:

  • Hit. The player decides to take another card (or even more, if they wish to). If the total number of points exceeds 21 after drawing the card or cards, then the player loses and leaves the table; this is known as a “bust.”
  • Stand. The player doesn’t take additional cards and simply waits for the game results (also known as “stand pat,” due to the gesture the player makes).
  • Double Down. The player doubles their bet and gets only one card.
  • Split. If the player was dealt two cards of the same value (e.g. two aces, tens, eights, etc.), he can split them into two hands, by placing another identical bet to the first one. The player will then be given two additional cards (each for a hand); the hands themselves are considered to be separate and are played independently. The next move can be either hit or stand or double. However, there are some exceptions, and the split terms basically depend on the blackjack you play. For example, sometimes doubling down after splitting is not allowed. Or again: sometimes, when splitting aces, each ace gets only one card. In general, the player can split up to 4 hands, and this significantly increases the bet they can place.

Advice: the best soft hands to double down on range from 13 to 18 (e.g. A – 2 to A – 7).

  • Surrender. The act of surrender is what finally breaks the silence of the Blackjack table. The player takes half of their bet, whereas the other half is forfeited by the house. Surrender is available only as the first decision of a hand, and it should be resorted to only when the player understands that there is no chance of beating the dealer.

Blackjack is definitely a game for those who have strong nerves, and who are ready to take a risk (especially if you play blackjack for real money), in order to beat the dealer and take over the house edge. However, if the dealer’s face-up ace confounds you, you can take Insurance. Insurance is a bet that goes independently of your main wager, and it is aimed at recouping your possible losses.

If the dealer’s face-up card is an ace, there’s a high probability (around one-third) that he/she has a ten-valued hole card. In this case, you’re offered Insurance, which can be worth up to half of your bet and pays 2:1. This basically provides you with a chance to redeem your initial bet, and to finally break even.

What’s Next?

When all the players have had their turns, it’s time for the dealer to face up (flip over) his hole card, and to act in accordance with the number of points they have. Yes, dealers have their own rules to follow too! And the players do need to take these into account.

  1. Every player who doesn’t exceed 21 points wins if the dealer busts. The players get paid out at 1:1 (i.e., at a rate equal to their wagers).
  2. If the dealer doesn’t bust, then the winner is the one who has the highest total of points.
  3. If the total number of points is 16 or less, the dealer should draw another card.
  4. Some tables require the dealer to hit if he has a soft 17 (an ace and any combination of cards that give 6 points), and to stand if the hand is hard 17.

To sum up, we need to say here that if you decided to play blackjack for real money, it is better to take the game seriously and to study all the rules carefully! You need to be prepared and have a decent strategy to achieve success in any game of chance; and blackjack is no exception!

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