When most people think of casinos, blackjack is one of the first games that come to mind. It is a casino card game which has a low house advantage when played properly. It is also well known as the game that card counters can turn around to be in the players favor. Learn everything there is to know with our guide to blackjack.
History of Blackjack
The modern game can be traced back to vingt-et-un (French for 21) which appeared in the 1700's. On arrival at casinos in the United States the game did not catch on with players so casinos started offering big payoffs (Up to 10 to 1) for a hand containing an Ace of Spades and any black jack (Club or Spades). This hand is what gave us the name blackjack.
With the big pay off the game grew in popularity and over time the big pay off for the ace of spades and black jack was removed. Today a blackjack can be any two cards totaling 21, the suits do not matter. The payoff for a blackjack is commonly 3 to 2. In recent years new variations such as Blackjack Switch have appeared.
Aim of the Game
Your aim is to get a had totaling 21 or as close to 21 as possible and beating the dealers hand. Hands over 21 bust so the total must be 21 or below to have a chance at beating the dealer.
There are a lot of different rule variations so we will cover the basics. Blackjack is played with a set number of 52 card decks. This is typically between one to eight decks. Cards 2 through 10 have their face value. Jacks, Queens, Kings have a value of ten and Aces can be either 11 or 1.
The player gets two cards and the dealer gets two cards with one face up.
After the deal the player acts first. After the deal if the player does not have blackjack then their are several choices.
These are hit (take another card), stand (stay with the current hand), split (if you have two cards of the same value you can split the hand into two hands), double (player takes one additional card and doubles bet). Once the players hand is finished the dealer may draw additional cards. In general the dealer must hit unless the dealer hand is 17 or better.
There are several outcomes for each hand. These are blackjack - any hand of two cards totaling 21 (Example : Ace of Diamonds and Jack of Spades). Blackjack pays 3 to 2. If the player has blackjack the hand automatically wins unless the dealer also has blackjack which results in a push.
Other outcomes are win - the players hand is higher than the dealers hand or the dealer busts which results in a 1 to 1 pay off. Push - the players hand and the dealers hands are of equal value. In this case bets are returned. Bust - if the players hand totals over 21 the hand automatically loses.
In some cases if the dealer is showing an ace the player will be offered the option of insurance. This is a bet that the dealer has blackjack and requires that the player place an additional bet of half of the original bet. This pays off 2 to 1 if the dealer has blackjack you win your bet total bet back.
How to Play
You start a game of blackjack by placing a bet on the table up to the table limit. You are then dealt two cards and the dealer is dealt two cards. If you have blackjack you do not have any more decisions to make. If you have less than 21 you have the option to hit or stand or in some cases double, split, surrender or take insurance against a dealer blackjack.
Once you reach 21, bust or decide you do not want anymore cards the dealer will reveal the face down card and draw additional cards if required by the rules. After the dealers hand is completed the game ends and winning hands are paid.
Sequence of Play
- Place a bet
- Player gets two cards, Dealer gets two cards one face up
- Player can hit, stand or double. In some cases split or insurance
- Player either busts, reaches 21 or stands
- Dealer reveals cards and may take additional cards
- Outcome is either win, push or bust
- Game starts again
Where to Play Blackjack Online
The following casinos are popular with online blackjack players. They all have multiple rule variations which means you can find rules your are familiar with. They also all offer you a bonus as a new player at the casino.