Blackjack is the most widely played casino banking game in the world, and for good reason: the rules are simple, and the game is easy to play.
Blackjack is a comparing card game played with one or more decks of cards and is typically played between a dealer and several players. Each player competes against the dealer, but players do not compete against each other.
The players are each dealt two cards, face up or face down depending on the casino rules, and the dealer is also dealt two cards, normally with one exposed (face up) and the other hidden (face down).
The dealer is responsible for dealing the cards, collecting the bets and paying the winners but the dealer can’t take insurance, double down, split their hand or surrender half their bet, and most dealers will hit on 16 and stand on 17. If none of that made sense to you, then read on and find out more about the popular game of blackjack.
Playing the game of blackjack
The aim of the game is simple: don’t exceed 21 because then you will be bust.
In order for a player to win a hand of blackjack, they need to beat the dealer by;
- getting 21 points or blackjack with the first two cards dealt with the player,
- reaching a final score that is higher than the dealer without exceeding 21,
- letting the dealer draw additional cards until their hand exceeds 21 and goes bust.
The card values of blackjack are also very easy to understand;
- all picture cards are worth 10 points
- the ace counts for 11 points or one point
- the number cards are worth their face value
Learning the Lingo
There are a number of blackjack terms that you need to familiarize yourself with before you start playing.
- Deal: The dealer draws two playing cards for each player and places them in front of the players
- Double Down: This means to double your bet in exchange for an additional card but if you double down you can’t hit again but if you win you will get double your original wager.
- Hit: The dealer draws an additional card and places it in front of the player that asked for the hit
- Insurance: An insurance wager is often considered bad form but can be made when the dealer displays a face-up ace and has good odds of making 21. If the dealer has blackjack, you win 2 to 1 on your insurance wager but this does not include your original bet. An insurance bet needs to be at least half your original wager.
- Stand: If you stand, it means that you are happy with your hand and no additional cards will be dealt – casino dealers mostly hit on 16 and stand on 17.
- Split: If you are dealt two cards of the same value, you can choose to split them by placing an additional bet and then continue playing with two hands.
- Surrender: When you surrender you leave the game before it is over and lose half your original bet but get to keep the other half.
- Soft Hand: Any hand containing an eleven-point ace
- Hard Hand: Any hand that does not contain an ace or that contains a one-point ace
In the early part of the 20 th century, casinos offered a 10:1 pay-out if players reached 21 with black jacks and an ace of spades, hence the name. These high paying odds did not last long but the name stuck.