As with many card games, variations and house rules are abundant. The following is an outline of the basic rules of standard blackjack, along with those house rules most commonly featured in casinos.
BlackJack Basic Rules
Unlike many other card games, blackjack is essentially a two-player game. Although many players may sit in a single round of blackjack, the player’s competition is the dealer, not the other players. The goal of blackjack is to beat the dealer by having the higher point total without going over 21. Point values of hands are calculated by adding up the values of the individual cards. 2 through 10 have a face value, Jack, Queen, and King are worth 10 points each, and the Ace is worth either 1 or 11 points, at the discretion of the player. The highest combination of cards is a blackjack, also known as a natural 21, an opening deal of any ten-point card with an ace (10+11=21).
Player(s) and dealer begin with two cards apiece. Typically the players’ cards are face up, while the dealer has one face up and the other (the hole card) face down. After the cards have been dealt, any player holding a blackjack is immediately paid out – unless the dealer also has a blackjack, in which case there is a push or draw, and all players not holding a blackjack lose immediately.
If neither players nor dealer has a blackjack, play continues. One by one, each player decides whether to hit or take another card from the deck. Generally, a player has the freedom to hit as many times as he or she would like, although some casinos do impose maximum card restrictions. When the player is satisfied with his or her hand, he or she chooses to stand, or hold. If the player acquires more than 21 points, he or she has a bust and loses immediately.
After all, players have decided to stand, the dealer reveals his hole card. The dealer then proceeds to hit or stand depending on the value of his hand. Any dealer with fewer than 17 points will hit until his hand reaches a value of 17 or greater. Casinos differ as to whether a dealer will hit on a soft 17 – that is, a hand of 17 containing an ace being counted as eleven points.
If the dealer has a bust, all players still left in the game winners. Otherwise, the dealer will stand after reaching a pat hand – a hard hand of 17 or more. Players with higher point totals win their bet, while players with lower totals lose. As mentioned above, players with blackjacks win their bet plus a bonus, typically equal to half their original wager. In cases where both player and dealer have an equal number of points, there is a push. When the push is between two hands of 21 points, if either hand is a blackjack, that hand will win.
Those are the basic rules of the game. But numerous side rules allow for more intricate betting strategies for blackjack players. The most widely practiced options are explained below, in the order in which they must be announced during a hand.
BlackJack Basic Tips
Here are some short yet helpful hints at maximizing your blackjack budget – and keeping yourself from going bankrupt!
- Choosing where to play is a gamble in itself. House rules can vary greatly from casino to casino. Playing where the rules are most favorable to the player can help you to maximize your budget. Some positive things to look out for include single- or double-deck games rather than six- to eight-deck shoes, lower frequency of reshuffling, the option to double on any opening hand, and being permitted to resplit Aces;
- Different tables may have different minimum wagers. Start small and your money will last longer [Source: onlinecasinohex.ca];
- Decide beforehand the amount of your playing stake, and stick with it. A reasonable playing stake is fifty times the typical amount you plan to bet per hand;
- Never bet more than 10% of your total playing stake on any one hand;
- If the casino allows it, take advantage of the options of insurance and surrendering. These can help to minimize net loss;
- Above all, know your gambling style and understand its consequences.
More aggressive gambling habits may lead to higher winnings, but they may also lead to significant loss. On the other hand, a conservative approach is certainly less risky, but will be unlikely to yield a fortune overnight. An awareness of your gambling style will help you to maximize your budget according to your own personal goals and limitations.
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