Blackjack (sometimes called 21) is one of the most widespread card games where one or more gamblers play against the dealer. The first reference to this game is known to be found in a book of a world-famous author Miguel de Cervantes in the 1500s, but the game itself gained popularity in America in the 1900s.
The idea of the game is quite simple: the player needs to score 21 points, or more than in the dealer's hands, but in no case more than 21.
Of course, it is very important to choose a reliable online casino to play blackjack, but it is much more important to understand the intricacies of this game.
There are lots of games similar to blackjack, but after reading this article you will get to know how to play a standard version of blackjack.
How to Play Blackjack: Step by Step Guide
Join a table
The first and one of the most important things is to join the table you are going to play. Once you and your partners are ready, each of you will get two cards (face up). The dealer will get two cards as well, but one of them shall be face-up, and the second one shall not.
Decide Whether to Hit or Stand
While thinking over your next step, you should estimate your hand value and all the cards. By doing this, you increase your chances of getting 21.
See Who is Closer to 21
If you are closer to 21 than the dealer, we congratulate you, as in this case you are the winner. So, the one who is the closest to 21, wins. If you were lucky enough, the dealer would pay out all your winnings. The amount of your winnings depends on your bet.
Basic Rules to Remember
So, now you know all the steps you should follow to play this game. Nevertheless, there are some other essential rules you'd better know. It is always good to be aware of the amount of payouts in different situations. Also, you should know what move is the best one in this or that situation. So, look through the following additional conditions:
- Regular wins pay 1:1 - If you have the cards which value closer to 21 than the dealer's.
- Blackjack wins pay 3:2 - when you are a lucky one to have 21.
- 16 and below - Hitting of any hand valued below or at 16.
- Hit or Stand - Players may add a card (to hit) or not (to stand), aiming to get 21.
- Split - If you wish to get more chances of beating the dealer, you are allowed to turn your one hand into two. Take care, as you can do this only having two equal cards.
- Double Down - One has an option of doubling bets mid-hand, but only one card will be given in this case.
- Some casinos allow their users to double down your cards regardless of their value, but on some platforms this option is limited.
Advanced Betting Options
If you already know the basic rules, you might be interested in advanced options. So, let's have a look at some of them:
- Insurance. If the dealer opens an Ace, the players are invited to get insurance. It is a kind of protection for you if the dealer has 10.
- Surrendering. Some casinos offer customers surrendering half a bet (if they are not satisfied with their hand). This option is different in different casinos.
- Soft 17. If a hand has an Ace, it is called a soft one. It is called so as it possesses two values (1 or 11), and some other cards. In some casinos, the dealer is required to hit while the others require him to stand in a case of soft 17. You should always learn the rules before playing.
- Taking even money. In case of hitting a blackjack and if the dealer is showing an Ace to you, you should push if he also has a blackjack. If you prefer to be on the safe side and not to risk your winnings, you may consider taking even money. In this case, you will get 1:1 instead of 3:2.
Learn to Split Your Pairs
Splitting your pairs is very often overlooked, which is a pity, as this trick can help you get lots of benefits. The main principle of this tip is dividing two cards into two hands. So, if you have decided to use this tip, you have to match two bets (new and original hands). Also, there are some downsides. Splitting can't be used in any situation, but in some cases it is essential, for example:
- Splitting a pair of eights. If your total value equals 16 (two 8), you are rather unlucky, as this is considered to be one of the worst blackjack combinations. If you want to make a winning hand, you should consider using this tip. If using the tip, you get two extra winning chances.
- Always split a pair of Aces. Similarly to the previously described situation, the player who has a pair of Aces will not likely win. Aces in blackjack equal either 1 or 11. But if you consider splitting your pair, you may considerably increase your winning chances.
- Do not split a pair of 10s. If you have a total of 20, it will be strange to waste such a good chance of making a blackjack. You'd better hang on to this pair not to give the dealer a blackjack.
- Do not split a pair of fives. Having a value of 10, you will simply need to get a high-value card to make a good hand, while in case of splitting you may get two rather weak hands.
Double Down When the Time is Right
Doubling down is ignored rather often. So, let's have a more detailed look at this thing. With doubling down, you double the wager you already have and get one more extra card. This tip may turn out to be very valuable in terms of winning. Nevertheless, similarly to other blackjack tricks, sometimes, you will not have a chance to use this tip, it entirely depends on your hand value. For instance, some online casinos will not allow any double down if you have 11 as it weakens their advantage. So, if you wish to double down, you have to inform the dealer about that. You'd better also announce your intentions verbally to avoid any confusion or misunderstanding. Also, there are some situations where it is advisable to double down. Let's have a look at some of them:
- You'd better always double down if your hand value equals 11.
- If your hand value is 10 and the dealer's hand is either four, five, or six, it is recommended to double down.
- Double down if you have nine (if the dealer has five or six).
Learn How to Play a Hard Hand
Now we are going to tell you about another blackjack trick called a hard hand. All players should know the difference between soft and hard hands, as both of them can be played in many ways. A hard hand does not include an Ace. So if you have a 10 and three, it is a hard 13. A hard hand is the one that can bust easily (in just one hit). In general, hard hands are rather risky to have.
Understand How to Play a Soft Hand
So, what is a soft hand in blackjack? This is the one that does not include an Ace. So, if you have an Ace and a two, it would be treated as a soft 13. This hand cannot bust just in one hit. The Ace here may equal 1 or 11, so it is possible to make your hand better. For instance, if you receive an Ace and a five, you will get 15. Usually, a soft hand is loved more than the hard one.
Interesting Facts About Blackjack
The Biggest Blackjack Win Ever
When it comes to big wins, we cannot but tell you about Don Johnson, a professional gambler. He managed to win $15 million at three different casinos December 2010 - April 2011 (over 5-month period). He received as his winnings 6 million US dollars from Tropicana, 5 million US dollars from the Borgata and 4 million US dollars from Caesar’s.
At Tropicana, that lucky devil ended up wagering $800,000 each hand and the dealer actually busted. He played, as he tells the reporters, “fair and square”, but at the same time his luck sometimes was due to various favorable casino offers. His initial losses were enormous, and then he was given a 20% discount and the rules that were not so strict. It allowed him to affect the casinos' coffers greatly. Such extra offers are a common thing for high-level players, but players often are not able to use them properly. Johnson lost striking sums of money (about 500,000 dollars) and asked for a 20% discount. He was given this chance and used it very successfully. Later, Johnson won 5.8 million dollars at Tropicana, and Tropicana reneged on the deal. The total paid out to Johnson was 15 million dollars, which is one of the biggest wins of our times.
Top 5 Blackjack Movies
Blackjack is one of the most favorite casino games. There are lots of movies about this game. Gambling can be used for making extremely exciting scenarios, so it is not a surprise that blackjack is often being shown in movies. Sometimes, blackjack can be treated as a character, acting like an evil force or a life-changing bliss. So, here we have TOP 5 movies about this game that may change and influence your vision of this game or even encourage you to learn how to play Blackjack and improve your skills.
- Vegas Vacation (1997)
- The Hangover (2009)
- 21 (2008)
- Rain Man (1988)
- License to Kill (1989)
Napoleon Favourite Game
Blackjack was one of Napoleon Bonaparte favorite games. In the 18th century in France this game was called Vingt-et-un (twenty-one) and it was the elite who played it only. Napoleon was one of the most passionate players, and some historians believe that Napoleon played the early version of blackjack during his expulsion.
Deck of Cards
If you are interested in why the standard deck of cards looks like that, you are just in the right place. All the 52 cards are 52 weeks in a year, while the four suits are four seasons. There are 13 different cards in each suit because there are 13 lunar cycles. Additionally, the total value of all cards including the Joker equals 365 (the number of days in a year).
Beat the Dealer
There is a book that added to the popularity of this game. This is the book by Edward Thorp. It was first published in 1962. In this book, the author reveals the secrets of Blackjack. He explains why it is called a game of skill and how to increase your winning chances.