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Blackjack Rules

Rules and how to play Blackjack:

The basics

The object of the blackjack game is to accumulate cards with point totals as close to 21 without going over 21. Face cards (Jacks, Queens and Kings) are worth 10 points. Aces are worth 1 or 11, whichever is preferable. Other cards are represented by their number.

If player and the House tie, it is a push and no one wins. Ace and 10 (Blackjack) on the first two cards dealt is an automatic player win at 1.5 to 1, unless the house ties. A player may stand at any time.

Playing blackjack

To win you need to beat the dealer without busting. You bust when your cards total to more than 21 and you lose automatically. The winner is whoever has closest to a total of 21. You reach 21 by adding up the values of the cards.

The blackjack table seats about 6 players. Either six or eight decks of cards are used and are shuffled together by the dealer and placed in a card dispensing box called 'Shoe'.

Before receiving any cards players must place a wager. Then the players are dealt two cards face up. The dealer gets one face up, one face down. Each player in turn either stays or takes more cards to try and get closer to 21 without busting. Players who do not bust wait for the dealer's turn. When all the players are done, the dealer turns up the down card. By rule, on counts of 17 or higher the dealer must stay; on counts of 16 or lower the dealer must draw.

If you make a total of 21 with the first two cards (a 10 or a face and an Ace), you win automatically. This is called 'Blackjack'. If you have Blackjack, you will win one and one-half times your bet unless the dealer also has Blackjack, in which case it is a Push or a Tie (or a Stand-off) and you get your bet back.

The remaining players with a higher count than the dealer win an amount equal to their bet. Players with a lower count than the dealer lose their bet. If the dealer busts, all the remaining players win. There are other betting options namely Insurance, Surrender, Double Down, Even Money and Split.

 

Blackjack, Soft Hand, Hard Hand.

House advantage (approximate, may vary with different rules)
Without basic strategy 7% average.
With basic strategy 0.5% or less.
Card counting can reverse the advantage up to 1% to the player.

Some blackjack variations

Using different number of decks: all other conditions being the same, as a general rule the fewer the decks, the better for the player.

Allowing the dealer to hit a soft 17: a disadvantage to the player. It gives the dealer a chance to improve.

Allowing a double down after splitting pairs: can be advantageous to the player if used wisely.

Allowing re-splitting of Aces: a clear advantage to the player.

No dealer hole card: common on cruise ships, this variation is a disadvantage to the player. The dealer does not deal himself a second card until the players have played and they can lose the doubles and splits.

Las Vegas and Atlantic City variants

Las Vegas blackjack:
Las Vegas games are played with two decks and the House must hit on hands less than soft 17 (17 involving an Ace) and must stand on hands of 17 or greater.

Atlantic City blackjack:
Atlantic City games are played with four decks and the House must hit on 16 and stand all 17's.

Blackjack Tips

Blackjack gambling advice tips:

If allowed, surrender (where a player may forfeit half his bet and decide not to play the original hand against the dealer) hard 15 against a dealer's 10, and 16 (but not 8's) against a dealer's 9, 10 or Ace.

Never take insurance unless you are counting cards.

Never split 10's.

Always split Aces and 8's, no matter what the dealer's showing card is.

Double down on two card combinations totaling:

Always stand on hard 17 or higher if the dealer's showing card is 7 or lower.

Always stand on hard 13 through 16 if the dealer's showing card is 6 or lower, but hit if the dealer's showing card is 7 through Ace.

Always stand on hard 12 or higher if the dealer is showing 4, 5 or 6.

Hit a hard 12 if the dealer's up card is 2, 3, 7 or higher.

Hit until you have at least 17 against a dealer's 10.

Hit a soft 17 against a dealer's 10.

Standing on 17 and lower relies entirely on the dealer's busting to win. Since you cannot bust a soft hand with just one hit, do the following:

Blackjack tips submitted by visitors

Study the last man at your blackjack table; if he is inexperienced or desperate, move on.

Never split the "F"s: fours, fives and face cards.

Interesting link
Frequently asked questions about blackjack.

Blackjack Glossary

Blackjack terms, meaning of words: Terminology, Jargon, Slang, Vocabulary.

Blackjack Strategy

How to win at blackjack: (Strategy, plan, tactics, method, system, technique.)

Unlike most other casino games, blackjack is a game whose outcome is greatly influenced by the player, right from the moment the player cuts the deck of cards. The dealer is practically like a robot. He follows set rules and makes no decisions of his own.

There are three different approaches to the game a player can take using three different strategies:

1. Play blackjack as a game of luck using money management only. Determine when to call a card and when to stand irrespective of what the dealer shows, apply a suitable money management system like the Paroli system and set appropriate profit and loss limits for when to quit.

2. Use basic strategy. Follow the game and take into account the dealers card to determine whether to call a card or stand. Apply a suitable money management system like the D'Alenbert system and set appropriate profit and loss limits for when to quit.

3. Card counting. This is not easy to do and some casinos don't like it. If you choose to play blackjack this way, it is best to learn from the experts. There are several books on sale that should teach you how to go about it.

A note on card counting

The principle behind card counting is that a deck of cards rich is tens and Aces is favorable to the player, a deck rich in small cards is favorable to the dealer. A deck rich in tens and Aces, is likely to bust the dealer more often.

To gauge the richness of the deck in high cards or lack of them, the player needs to keep track of the cards that are already played and assign a point value to each card. The calculation is quite complex, but basically the card counter will give a plus point each time the deck of cards becomes more favorable and a minus point each time it becomes less favorable. Basically, the high cards have a -1 point and the low cards a +1 point and the in between 0 point.

The counter then counts by adding and subtracting points according to the cards played and keeps a running total of the count called 'running count'. Then he also needs to divide the running count by the proportion of the size of the deck of cards left to get the 'true count'. Now he knows the relative richness of high cards in the remaining deck.

A positive count is good and a high positive count is best and the card counter will assess his hand, the dealer's up card, weigh up his options and intensify his betting accordingly.

To be a successful card counter you need to have a powerful memory and fast reaction while amassing information as you play. And for what? If everything works out well, you will be looking at a slow and tedious 1% average profit. If you wager large sums of money to make the 1% worthwhile, you are likely to be noticed by the pit boss and prompt frequent shuffling of the cards. Card counting is hard, not liked by the casinos and is not as rewarding as it may seem.

Interesting links

Blackjackcenter.com
A basic blackjack strategy - also has sections on card counting, cluster counting and betting systems.

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