Blackjack Rules and Strategy
The premise of Blackjack is to get 21 or be closer to it than the dealer without going over, or busting. You are not playing against any other players at the table, and the play of the dealer is determined by his own draw. So anyone seeing your cards is inconsequential, not to mention impossible when playing online because you’re playing a computer.
The value of your hand is the sum of the cards. The Ace is worth either 1 or 11 (doesn’t have to be specified, just assumed to be the value that makes the best hand). Jack, Queen, King and 10 are all worth 10. Number cards are, you guessed it, equal to the number on the card.
The first and most important distinction in blackjack is, the Blackjack, or Natural. A blackjack is 21 on the first two cards, an ace with a 10, J, Q, or K. Getting 21 with say 7, 5, 9 is 21, not blackjack. Blackjack has a higher payout than 21. Any time both the player and dealer blackjack it is a tie or Push.
After the initial two cards are dealt, if you’d like another card you may Hit. Once you are satisfied with your cards (you did play your hand to optimize your odds right?) you will Stand.
In addition to the original bet, you are allowed to increase your wager up to double after the first two cards have been dealt, and only after the first two cards are dealt. When you decide to Double Down you are dealt only a third card, so you should expect to be able to win the hand with only one more card. A prime example would be if you were dealt 5, 6, you have a fair chance of getting a card of value 10 and winning and the larger pot.
Should you be dealt a pair you have the option of Splitting. The two matching cards are separated and your bet for each hand is equal to the original bet, and each hand is played independently.
Casinos sometimes offer you an opportunity to opt out of a hand by giving up a portion of your wager. The aptly named Surrender comes in two forms, early and late. The late surrender allows you to opt out only after the dealer has checked his hand for blackjack. In the early form you can surrender before the dealer checks his hand for blackjack, giving the dealer a slightly smaller advantage. As you may expect, casinos are aware of this margin of advantage, thus you will rarely find a casino that offers early surrender.
The final betting alteration is Insurance. Insurance is offered when the first card the dealer gives himself is an ace. The insurance is for half of your wager and pays out 2:1. This is to ‘protect’ you from a dealer blackjack. Purchasing insurance is generally a poor choice and statistically you end up better off ignoring it. However, more advanced players can detect situations with a high likelihood that the dealer with blackjack thus taking advantage of the insurance.
Before playing a hand you should know the context of the game which you are playing. This includes number of cards in the deck and how the dealers play is determined. These two points are important because, if you intend to win or at least optimize your odds, they will influence how you play.
The first fact you should not is how many decks of cards you will be playing from. More decks makes it more difficult to keep track of cards played, thus making it more difficult to speculate odds of cards coming up. For one deck you can simply mark cards played and see what remains. With multiple decks in play if you keep track of how many of each card has been played you will begin to get an advantage as the game progresses.
Slight variations in what determines the dealers play can have an impact on your decisions, therefore should be noted. There are two popular methods of laying out play. The most common method is the dealer stands on all 17s. All aces equal 11 unless it would make them bust. The variation is that the dealer stands on hard 17s and all 18s. This means that if the dealer has A, 6 (soft 17) he would still hit. If a 10 came up then the dealer would stand.
Above all, play with common sense and have a good time. Base your decisions on logic and you just might CrackTheCasino.
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