Everyone knows the thrill of hitting 21 and knowing you're in the money! Or for anyone that's yet to find it out for themselves, there is no time like the present to try playing online. A casino classic that's been a world favourite for generations and still proves popular with millions today – blackjack has joined the 21st century with some amazing opportunities to play online from the comfort of home.
Vegas might be a long way away, but thanks to the internet your own private casino is just waiting to give you the full VIP treatment!
As one of the simplest card games, blackjack is the one you can learn and pick up quickly. Usually, the game is played with a deck of 52 cards. To play the game, the dealer shuffles the cards to all the players. While playing live blackjack, players need to understand that they bet against the casino dealer. However, in a standard flash game, the dealer will be a computer. The main goal is to make an attempt to bring the cards total to 21 or close to it. Here, you can make use of two or more cards. Face cards such as Jacks, Queens and Kings are worth ten points and Ace card is worth either 1 or 11 points. All other cards have their numerical value. If you pass 21 points, you will lose the game.
Even though, the blackjack has gained immense popularity with the release of the chartbuster movie "21", the film has given a small insight into the game, and many people are still unaware of it. Nonetheless, for such people, this guide will make them understand about various things in regards to how to play. They will learn the rules, but also get some practical tips and strategies to apply while playing blackjack online.
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When you are going to play this game, there are some things that you should know if you are a beginner. The first thing that you should know going into any game is, of course, the rules of the game.
Each player competes with a dealer or croupier and the primary goal is to beat the house dealer by having a hand that is equal or less than the value of 21 so that your hand is higher than the dealers.
The best hand to have is a blackjack, which is a face (10) card plus an ace, and this typically pays 2-1.
Before you get any cards in this game you have to make your bet, if you are in a land based casino you do this by placing your desired amount of chips in the designated area on the table in front of you. If you are playing online, then you click the denomination of the chip that you want and then click the circle in front of you.
After you have made your bets the dealer deals two cards to you, other players if there are any and to himself. When the dealer deals your cards to you they are both dealt face up so you can see them; the dealer's cards are dealt one face up and one face down.
Now is when you need to know what the value of each one of the cards is, and for example, everything from 2 to 9 has face value. Regarding 10, Jack, Queen, and King, they are all valued at 10, and the Ace can either be valued at a 1 or an 11.
Now, let's return to the gameplay.
After your cards are dealt and if you didn't get a Blackjack, then you have several different choices that you can make. The first two are whether you want to hit or to stand.
If you want to hit, then that means that you would like the dealer to give you another card because you don't think that your hand come close enough to 21 to make a win.
If you think that your two cards are close enough to 21, then you will want to stand, that means that you don't wish to take any more cards. You can also do something called Doubling Down, this is done when you have two cards, and you think that with one more card you will be able to achieve or get very close to 21 (when you do this keep in mind that you double your bet, hence the name).
In the case when the first two cards are a pair then you can also do something that is called Splitting Pairs, which means that you take each one of your cards, and make a hand out of each one of them. When you make that separate hand, that means that you are making the same bet on that hand as you made on the original hand.
In some casinos, you can give up your first two cards before making any other actions and lose only half of your initial bet. This way if you get a very bad hand you can get rid of it without losing all of your money the way that you would if you just plainly lost. Now if the dealer is showing an Ace up, the player is given the chance to take insurance, a bet not exceeding half of the original bet, that way if the dealer does get a Blackjack, the player still wins 2 to 1. In a scenario when the dealer has any other card, the player doesn't win anything.
Players of online blackjack not only need to decide to "Stand" or "Hit", but also consider other options that help in increasing payouts. Below are discussed some of the rules or terms that you need to understand thoroughly to maximise your profits.
- Doubling Down: You can double your bet, but this is possible only when you are dealt with two cards. If you select to double down, you get one additional card, but you will not able to hit again, once you choose to double down.
- Insurance: In case the dealer displays an ace card, at such time, you can insure yourself from losing more money. However, in the case where the card of a dealer seems to be a 10 or face-up card, then you get back your Insurance bet at odd of 2:1. On the other hand, if the dealer's card is not a 10 or face-up card, then player lose the Insurance bet too.
- Split: This offers you the choice to break your hand of cards into 2. It gives you a chance to win or lose two times in the similar game. Once the hand of cards is split into two, you can take a number of hits on every hand that you want. If you hold a pair of aces, then you will get only a standard 21.
- Early Surrender: As a prospective player, you will be given an option to 'Surrender' before the dealer ascertains for his or her 21. Similarly, you also have an option to surrender, once the dealer discovers of having a 21 or Blackjack.
To become a successful online blackjack player, it is also necessary on the part of you to be familiar with all these common terms:
- Stand: This means, you need to keep all your cards
- Hit: This suggests you take one more card
- Natural or Blackjack: When a player's hand consists of two cards adding up to 21 (a 10-valued card and an Ace card), then he or she is said to hit Blackjack. However, one thing to note here is that a ten and an ace after splitting will not be considered as a Blackjack
- Bust: It means a losing hand that exceeding 21
- First Base: It is the first blackjack player at the table from whom the dealer begins the game (possible with live dealers)
- Hole: It is one of those cards of the dealer, which is considered as the face down card. This card is turned over, once the players have dealt their cards
- Even money: If the dealer's face-up card is an Ace card, and the player's hand is a Blackjack, the dealer may propose "Even Money". It resembles more like an insurance, but if you bet assuming that the dealer has a blackjack, and if it is true, then you may be paid 2:1 for this "Even Money" bet
Knowing the rules of the game does come in handy, but you should also know a little bit of a strategy to use.
When it comes to hitting or standing there are certain things that you should know. The first thing is that you should constantly look at what cards the dealer have so that you can make your decision about what you want to do. So basically you don't always have to take a card if you have a low hand, because if you think that the dealer has a very weak hand you won't have to have much to win.
Doubling down and Splitting differ from casino to casino, and game to game, everything depends on the cards that are showing. Of course, if you have a high hand, then you don't double down, and you don't split. The best strategy that you can know before going into this game is never to mess with a high winning hand. If you have a good hand, don't bother trying to make it better because chances are you are going to end up busting (which means going over 21).
The next strategy is built on mathematical calculations and analysis through computers and will help you to decrease the house edge in blackjack to as less as a half percent.
This strategy card can help act as a reference tool for you to make it easy for you to understand which rules you need to apply and to which hand (click on the card to enlarge it).
Now let proceed with tactical moves. This is a game in which the house always has a huge advantage. The advantage factor, in fact, can be as high as 7 to 8 percent. Statisticians, however, have been able to calculate mathematical strategies that aim to diminish the house advantage to as less as 1 percent or even lower.
The development of basic one has progressed when computers made it possible for players to experiment with literally million of moves in order to come up with statistical charts that would give the player the upper edge. A combination of research and simulation by the computer has perfected these mathematical calculations. This statistical analysis is known as basic blackjack strategy, and if you are a player who hopes to have even the slightest chance of surviving in the game, you'll need to be a pro at understanding these basic strategies. When you apply it, you have to consider the variables that affect the house advantage and choose your moves accordingly. For instance, factors like if you are playing soft or hard hands, whether the dealer stands on a soft 17, the number of times you are allowed to split hands and if early or late surrender is allowed (if it is allowed at all) - all affect your strategy.
- When it comes to double downing, you should always double down on 11, except when the dealer has an ace.
- If the dealers have a hand that's equal to or lesser than 9, you should double down at 10.
- When the dealer has a hand that's equal to or lesser than 6, you should double down on 9.
- More advanced splitting strategies always include splitting aces and eights, and never splitting 5's and 10-face cards. A pair of aces gives you a hard 12. If you split the cards, however, you have two independent hands to play with, and each of them has one ace which makes it a more favourable proposition for you.
- When the dealer shows a hand value of 4,5,6,7, always split on 3's and 2's.
- For a pair of aces or eights, split.
- For pairs of 2s or 3s, and if the dealer has 2 through 7, split. Otherwise, hit.
- For a pair of fours, and if the dealer has 5 through 6, split. Otherwise, hit.
- For fives, and if the dealer has 2 through 9, double down. Otherwise, hit.
- For sixes, and if the dealer has 2 through 6, split. Otherwise, hit.
- For sevens, split if the dealer has 2 through 7. Otherwise, hit.
- For nines, split if the dealer has 2 through 6, 8, or 9. Stand for anything else.
- For tens, stand.
Soft and Hard hands
In order to understand the strategy for soft and hard hands, you must first understand what these are. In blackjack, an ace is a card that can count as 1 or 11. Hard hands have no aces or an ace that counts as 1. A hand with an ace which counts as 11 is called a soft hand. A soft hand will allow you to add another card to your hand without the risk of busting.
- Hard 8 or less - always hit.
- Hard 9 - double down if the dealer has 3, 4, 5, or 6; otherwise hit.
- Hard 10 - double down if the dealer has an upcard of 2-9; otherwise hit.
- Hard 11 - double down if the dealer has 2-10 up card; otherwise hit.
- Hard 12 - stand if the dealer has 4-6; otherwise hit.
- Hard 13-16 - stand if the dealer has 2 through 6; otherwise hit.
- Hard 17-21 - always stand.
- Soft 13-14 (ace + 2 or 3 ) - double down if the dealer holds up card 5 or 6; otherwise hit.
- Soft 15 or 16 (ace + 4 or 5) - double down if the dealer holds up card 4-6; otherwise hit.
- Soft 17 (ace + 6) - double down if the dealer holds up card 3-6; otherwise hit.
- Soft 18 (ace + 7) - double down if the dealer holds up card 3-6; stand if the dealer holds 2, 7, or 8; hit if the dealer holds 9, 10, or ace.
There is no purpose in trying to count cards until you have learned the basic strategic moves in Blackjack. A casino is never thrilled about this strategy because the odds are against them when players learn card counting technique.