A name synonymous with casinos, blackjack is a card game with millions of fans around the world. The game is played between one player (or more) and a dealer. The players and dealer compare their hands to see who’s closer to 21 – the one who gets to that count first wins the round.
Blackjack is a game with a pretty long history although its origins were never uncovered. The first written reference to blackjack dates from the 17th century. Blackjack became very popular after coming to the United States centuries later and together with slots and jackpots as well as other table games such as roulette and baccarat experienced a massive boom in popularity during the golden age of gambling in Nevada. Of course, in Australia and New Zealand casino games are often referred to as pokies but don’t let that fool you.
Nowadays, it is one of the biggest games in online casinos. Thanks to the ever-evolving online casino industry, blackjack’s story lives on in a variety of forms.
The goal of the game is to get a hand value as close to 21 before the dealer. Going over that number means going bust or losing the round. You generally play the game with 2 or more standard card decks. At the beginning of a round, you are required to place a bet before the dealer deals two cards to each player and themselves.
One of the dealer’s cards will be face up with all cards dealt with players also faced up. At this point, it’s time for the player to decide how to play his/her cards. If you have a hand that consists of a 10 and an Ace, it’s called a blackjack ‘natural’ and means you’ve won the round instantly. Naturals pay 3:2 unless the dealer has a blackjack as well. This, however, is very unlikely to happen.
Blackjack Hand Values
You play blackjack with a standard 52-card deck and suits don’t count in this one – only the numbers matter. To find out your hand value, follow this guide:
- Cards 2-9 count as face value
- All face cards – 10, J, Q, K, count as 10
- An ace counts 1 or 11 – it depends on which value helps your hand more
How to Play
Playing blackjack is not that complicated once you learn the rules by heart. The goal of the game is pretty simple – beat the dealer in a round without going over 21 however it’s a mathematically complex game if you get deep down to it.
As mentioned, the game starts with you placing a wager. You can see the limits written directly on the virtual table. In most cases, the minimum is $5, but it can even go lower. As soon as your wager goes down, the round starts.
You initially get two cards – check them out to find out your hand value. If you don’t get natural, you should be smart about your next choice. Should your hand be acceptable, you should Stand. Alternatively, if you want to improve your total hand, you ask for a Hit. This means that you’ll receive a third card that can either make you go bust or get you into a position to beat the dealer.
At the same time, you can also split the cards into a new hand, double down on your hand, or surrender. But, as a beginner, you’re most likely to either Stand or ask for another card (Hit). You can also place the infamous Insurance side bet that costs half of your original stake. With it, you’re betting against the dealer hitting a natural. Insurance is only possible if your dealer’s first card is an ace.
The house edge of blackjack is lower than any other casino game. It is generally around 2%, making the game very favorable for players. By using a basic blackjack strategy, you can cut down the house edge to around 0.5%. To put it simply, this means losing around 50 cents for every $100 you wager on the game.
It’s generally best if you learned how to play with a basic strategy before playing without a strategy as it raises the ‘bar’ to 2%.
As a mathematically complex game, using strategies is advantageous in blackjack. However, not all blackjack strategies are good. As a matter of fact, only the basic blackjack strategy can help you win sometimes. In the long run, however, you should definitely expect losses.
The basic blackjack strategy varies depending on the variant you’re playing. Don’t think of it as a foolproof way of winning each round. Think of it as an optimal playing method for each hand in order to reduce the house edge of blackjack.
You can find many basic blackjack strategies online. They look like a table with a scheme that starts with the dealer’s face-up card. Depending on its value, the tables below show what you need to play. A basic blackjack strategy also depends on the dealer Soft 17 rule or if the game allows a double after a split.
Basic strategies are not the same as card counting, the infamous technique that has helped players in the past win big on blackjack.
What is Card Counting?
An MIT team of blackjack players that raided US casinos in the 1970s and 1980s using an illegal and complex technique of counting cards in blackjack. The team from MIT was led by a math professor who made millions on blackjack before being banned from all casinos.
The highly controversial technique gives players an advantage in the game and allows them to bet more with less risk. It is pretty difficult to get a hold of, not to mention illegal. You can’t use card counting in online casinos since the game is controlled by an RNG that randomizes the events.
The computer shuffles the deck or decks of cards before each round starts so it’s practically impossible to count cards online. As we already mentioned previously, there’s no foolproof strategy including card counting that will help you win each round against the dealer.
Your best bet is to learn a basic blackjack strategy and go slow. Keep your bets small, practice for free before you play for cash, and you’ll slowly get better at the exciting game of blackjack.
Casinos that offer Blackjack.
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