How To Play Blackjack
Here are some great tips on how best to play Blackjack. Blackjack is now designed to be more a game of chance than of skill at most online and land casinos. Here you’ll find out why.
Blackjack is a classic casino game both at online casinos and in your typical brick and mortar casinos. It is also one of the most popular card games.
In Europe, it’s often referred to as ‘Black Jack’. For example, classic Black Jack is played at the Casino de Monte-Carlo, the Sun Casino and at the Casino Café de Paris, three of the most famous land casinos in Europe. These three land casinos belong to the Monte-Carlo’s Société des Bains de Mer group of casinos.
In Britain, the game’s informal variation is also known as ‘pontoon’.
Blackjack a Game of Skill in its Classic Form
Blackjack in its most classic form is a game that typically offers players considerable scope for skill. Furthermore, dedicated players have been very successful in combating the house edge. This is done through a laborious system of card counting. As a result, these players’ odds of winning are greatly increased.
For example, a skilled Blackjack player knows that when a large proportion of high cards remains in the deck, their winning chances are increased. Certain players have been so successful at card counting, that it has subsequently been barred from play in most major casinos.
Blackjack House Edge increased by Multiple Decks
In an effort to deter card counting, casinos invented the multiple-deck system. These decks are also often reshuffled long enough to minimize the chance that players can guess what high and low cards are left in the deck.
That means of course, that blackjack is now less a game of skill once the player’s ability to guess the value of the cards evaporate. As far we are concerned, it is then considered a ‘game of chance’.
House Edge Further Increased by the 6:5 Payout
A new variation of Blackjack which paid out 6:5 was eventually introduced to increase the house edge. This move by the casinos hugely offended Blackjack players as it bumped the house edge to nearly two percent. Even when the basic strategy game was perfectly played. This variation ultimately cut the payout on blackjacks from 3:2 to 6:5.
The objective in Blackjack is to get as close to 21 in the total number of card values but not to exceed it. The player or the croupier wins who has the cards closer to 21. One player’s value must be higher than the other player. Otherwise, it is called a ‘Push’ when the two players have the same value.
Hands which exceed 21 are ‘bust’.
A ‘Blackjack’ is when a player or the croupier gets a two-card hand of 21 (such as an ace in addition to a card with the value of 10). This is also called a ‘Natural’ as it is exactly 21. In most casinos, a ‘Blackjack’ or ‘Natural’ pays out 3:2.
All normal, numbered cards are worth their face value and the Aces, Kings and Queens all have a value of 10. These are as follows:
- 2 to 9 = their number value (e. g. 2 of any card counts as a 2)
- Jack, Queen, or King = 10
- Ace = 1 or 11.
If the Ace card would cause a player to ‘bust’ or exceed 21, it is taken as a 1. If the Ace’s value is used as an 11, this is called a ‘soft hand’.
The croupier then deals the cards after initial bets are placed. Depending on the Blackjack variant, the number of cards are dealt accordingly. For example, in European Blackjack, the player receives 2 cards but the croupier only receives one card at the point of sharing out 2 cards each to every player.
In American blackjack, if the dealer’s face-up card is an ace or is a 10, the dealer may peek at his or her hole card to see if he or she has Blackjack.
If the dealer gets blackjack, a player or multiple players will lose their initial bets with the exception of those players who also have blackjack; they will then ‘push’.
All participating players who did not have blackjack will also lose their bets; players who increased their bets by doubling or splitting will only lose their original bet and their additional bets will be returned to them.
Players are offered Insurance if the dealer’s up-card is an Ace and before the dealer checks his ‘hole card’. Insurance gives a player protection should the dealer get a Blackjack. Insurance can be purchased for half the price of the initial bet.
If the dealer does have blackjack, the insurance pays 2 to 1. If the player buys insurance and the dealer does not have a blackjack, then the insurance bet is lost.
Insurance is NOT always recommended as it changes the house edge from 2 to 15%, depending on the number of decks used and visible ’10’ cards.
Insurance is only recommended if the player has counted the cards and is pretty confident that more than a 1/3 of the deck has cards with the value of ’10’.
Even Money Bets
A dealer may ask a player if he/she wants to bet ‘Even Money’. ‘Even Money’ can be taken if the player has a Natural (an ace and a ten or face-card) and the dealer is showing an ace. If the player chooses to accept the ‘even money’ offer, he or she is immediately paid 1:1 for his/her natural, independent of whether the dealer has blackjack or not.
Unless a player has been counting cards, ‘even money’ is also not recommended. A player must be absolutely certain that the deck has an unusually high proportion of cards that have a face value of ten.
Not every Blackjack game variant allows splitting. However, if it does, and your first two cards are of the same value, you may split them into separate hands. A second wager of equal value is then placed on the second hand.
After splitting, draw your cards as usual. However, if you split two aces, you get only one additional card for each hand. If you split two aces and one of your hands totals 21, this is not considered Blackjack, but 21.
With splitting, a player will now be playing two hands of Blackjack, one at a time. The first hand is dealt a second card. The player must decide whether he would like to Stand or take another card by clicking Hit. Once the player has finished the first hand, he must move onto the second, repeating the same process. After the player is satisfied with both hands it is the dealer’s turn. The dealer will now reveal his other card and take additional cards until he has a total of 17 or more.
Note: The player cannot hit on split aces. The dealer deals a second card only for each hand.
You can apply the “Double Down” action when you have been dealt two cards and believe that a third card may give you a position to beat the dealer’s hand. Your wager is then doubled, and you are allowed to hit and receive just one additional card. Check out the rules for each game variant before proceeding to apply this rule.
It is also possible to Double after a Split, except after splitting two aces.
Counting Cards (or Card Counting)
When a player is able to remember and track the cards that have already been played, the player is at a high advantage. Especially if they are certain that there is an overwhelming number of Aces and tens remaining in the deck.
Card counting gives the player the advantage of possibly raising their bet if they remain confident of hitting a Blackjack. A player can know when to double down if he/she is confident that there are many tens left in the deck.
Some single-deck Blackjack games reduce the house advantage to almost zero depending on the particular rules of the casino. Look for single-deck Blackjack games that have a 3:2 payout as they give the player the best chances of winning at Blackjack. Do not ever play single-deck Blackjack if the payout is 6:5.
We therefore recommend that players practice at a free online casino in a single-deck Blackjack game. Practice counting before trying their hand at playing Blackjack.
Blackjack Game Variations
There are numerous Blackjack game variations. Each blackjack game variation has its own set of rules, strategies and odds. A player is therefore well advised to read the rules carefully prior to playing and placing any bets.
Note that many countries and states have acts and laws which set the rules on playing Blackjack. Ensure that gambling isn’t restricted or illegal in your jurisdiction.
Types of New Blackjack Games
Classic Blackjack, Classic Double Deck Blackjack, Classic Single Deck Blackjack, Double Deck Blackjack, European Blackjack, Perfect Pairs, Single Deck Blackjack and Zappit Blackjack at Joe Fortune.