Historical records have shown that the card game of blackjack has been enjoyed by gamblers since the beginning of the 17th Century and possibly even earlier, and more so than ever today in both land casinos and online casinos.
Also known as Twenty-one (or Vingt-et-un in French), 21 is the magic number in blackjack as the objective of the game is to make 21 (a natural 21 is called a blackjack) or get as close as possible to 21 without exceeding it or 'busting'. The great thing about playing online blackjack is that most online casinos give you the option to play for Real money as well as Play money.
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Although luck obviously plays a part in blackjack, so does skill and strategy, as during the course of the game there are many decisions that you the player need to make such as the size of your bet, when to 'hit', when to 'stick', when to 'split', when to 'double-down' or when to 'surrender'.
But to start at the beginning, here the following are the basic blackjack rules:
Blackjack is played with one or more standard 52-card decks that are shuffled at random. The value of each card is counted at face value except for Aces which can be valued as either 1 or 11, and picture cards, which are all valued at 10.
In blackjack you always play against the dealer. And again, while the objective is to make a blackjack (which will pay you out 3:2 on your initial bet) it is equally to beat the dealer by having higher cards than him. So for instance, say you bet $2 and you make a natural blackjack, you'll win $3 plus your original bet making $5. If you make 18 and the dealer makes 17, you'll be paid 1:1, or double your initial bet. So if you bet $2, you'll win $2 plus your original bet making $4.
At the start of each hand, you place your bet (up to the table maximum) and then you are dealt two cards face up and the dealer is dealt two cards, one face up and one face down. If you make a blackjack, you'll be paid out 3:2 immediately. If, however, you don't, you'll have the option to hit, i.e. be dealt another card; stand, i.e. keep the cards you have; or double, where you double the size of your bet and are a dealt another card.
If you are initially dealt any pair, you are given the option to split them, which means you'll get to play each hand separately following the above rules. When you split a hand, the best case is that both of the hands beat the dealer, although it can happen that only one hand beats the dealer or worst case, both hands lose to the dealer.
There is another betting option in blackjack called surrender, which some casinos allow and some don't. With surrender you can basically 'fold' your cards in the middle of a hand if you think the dealer will make blackjack, i.e.. if his face card is showing an Ace, 10 or picture card. When you surrender, only half of your original bet is returned to you.
Once you have taken all the necessary actions with your hand(s) the dealer reveals his second card. The rules of blackjack specify that he has to stand if he has 17 or more, and keep hitting if he has 16 or less. He keeps hitting until he has beaten your hand(s) or until he busts.
In terms of blackjack strategy, many years ago some clever blackjack fan devised what is known today as 'basic blackjack strategy' which we have highlighted below in table form for easy reference. Note that a 'hard' refers to hands that do not contain an Ace and 'soft' refers to hands that do, in other words hands that have two possible values.
|Your hand||Dealer's Face Up Card|
|S = Stand, H = Hit, DH = Double (if not allowed, then hit), DS = Double (if not allowed, then stand), SP = Split, SU = Surrender (if not allowed, then hit)|
And this is all you need to know to turn yourself from a blackjack novice into a blackjack pro.