Blackjack is the most widely played casino banking game in the world. Formerly it was called Black Jack and Vingt-Un. It uses decks of 52 cards and descends from a global family of casino banking games known as Twenty-One. It also includes the British game of Pontoon and the European game, Vingt-et-Un. Blackjack players do not compete with each other, however, it’s a comparing card game where each player competes against the dealer.
Blackjack’s immediate ancestor was the English version of twenty-one called Vingt-Un. The first written reference is found in "Rinconete y Cortadillo" book by the Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes written between 1601 and 1602. Later references to Blackjack game are found in France and Spain.
The first reference of the game appears in France in 1768 and in Britain during the 1770s and 1780s, but the first rules show up in Britain in 1800 under the name of Vingt-Un. In the early 1800s, Twenty-One, still known then as Vingt-Un, appeared in the United States. The 1800 English rules were reprinted as the American rules in 1825. English Vingt-Un later developed into an American variant in its own right and renamed as Blackjack around 1899.
In September 1956, Roger Baldwin, Wilbert Cantey, Herbert Maisel, and James McDermott published a paper titled The Optimum Strategy in Blackjack in the Journal of the American Statistical Association. It was the first mathematically sound optimal blackjack strategy, and became the foundation of future efforts to beat blackjack.
Blackjack is usually played on a semi-circular table that accommodates several players. The most common tables accommodate 7 players or seven “spots” and there are other tables that allow 5 spots and 12 spots also. The dealer stands behind the table and chip rack and the players sit on the other side.
Beat The Dealer. There are many mistaken beliefs around the objective of blackjack game at the most basic level, the only purpose of blackjack game is to beat the dealer.
1. If you draw a hand value that is higher than the dealer’s hand value.
2. If you draw a hand value of 21 on your first two cards, when the dealer does not.
3. If the dealer draws a hand value that goes beyond 21.
• If your hand value exceeds 21.
• If the dealer’s hand has a higher value than yours at the end of the round.
Note that, there’s nothing to do with the other player’s hands at the table in winning a Blackjack game like they do in Poker games. Hence, it’s just you against the dealer.
Don’t get fooled if someone tries to convince you by saying it’s a team sport. But, in reality, the game of Blackjack is you against the dealer.
Blackjack game is played with a conventional deck of 52 playing cards and suits don’t matter. Here’s how to find a hand’s total value:
1. Cards 2 through 10 counts at face value, i.e., 2 counts as two, 9 counts as nine.
2. Face cards (J, Q, K) count as 10, and
3. Ace can be 1 or an 11 depending on which value helps the hand the most.
There are many rule variations attached with Blackjack games and it is dealt with different numbers of decks. The common blackjack game is dealt out of a 6-deck or 8-deck “shoe” where show is a plastic or card-dispensing device. Here is the basic procedure for 6-decks game:
1. Player buys chips
2. Player places a wager
3. Dealer deals cards to players
4. Player decides how to play hand
5. Dealer plays hand
The basic necessity for a player to play blackjack game at the table are chips. So, you need to exchange your money for casino chips first. Simply walk up and place your money on the felt of the table. For security reasons, dealers cannot take anything out of a player’s hand or vice versa.
In the beginning, you need to place a bet in the betting circle. It’s a small sign on the far right or left side of the table that lets you know the betting limits. The minimum and maximum bet depends on the regulatory environment and the type of casino.
After you place your bet the dealer will deal clockwise, one card, face up, to each player at the table and then one card faces down for himself. Then, in the second round, he will deal one more card face up to each player and one more card for himself, face up. So, each player has 2 cards, face up, in front of them, but the dealer has one card face up and one face down.
The player sitting to the left to the dealer is also known as “first base” need to play their hand first. First you need to add the card values together to play your hand. You’ll get a hand total anywhere from 4 to 21. If you’re dealt a ten-value card and an Ace as your first two cards that means you got a Blackjack! Unless the dealer doesn’t also have a Blackjack, you get paid 3 to 2 or 1.5 times your wager immediately, without playing through the round. However, if the dealer also has a Blackjack, it is called a “push,” and you wouldn’t win anything but wouldn’t lose your original wager also. If both the dealer and you don’t have a blackjack, you can decide how you want to play your hand by using appropriate hand signals when the dealer points at you. There are 5 ways you can play your hand:
If your first two cards are acceptable, you can stand and the dealer will move on to the next player. Hand signal: Wave your hand or simply put out an open palm over the felt.
If you would like more cards to improve your hand total, the dealer will deal you more cards, one at a time, until you either “bust” meaning going over 21 or you choose to stand. There is no limit on the number of cards you can take other than going over a total of 21. Hand Signal: Tap the felt with your finger.
If you have an advantageous hand total but you need to take an additional card, you can double your initial wager and the dealer will deal you only 1 additional card. Hand signal: Just put up a wager, equal to your initial wager, on the left side of your original bet and the dealer will give you one additional card, turned sideways to indicate you may not take additional cards.
If you’re dealt a pair of equal value, you have the option to put out a second wager and the dealer will split the two cards so that each card will become the first card on two new hands. It also applies to face cards. You are allowed to split a hand consisting of a King and a Jack because they both have the same value, even though they are not actually a pair. Hand signal: Put up a second wager equal to your first. Then give a “peace sign” to signify you would like to split and not double down. The dealer will make two hands out of your first hand and you will be dealt a second card on each.
If you don’t like your initial hand, you have the option of giving it up in exchange for half your original bet back. Hand signal: draw a line across the felt behind your bet as if you were cutting a slit in the felt with an imaginary knife. It is common for dealers to mistake this signal for the “hit” signal. To be safe, always verbalize the word “surrender” to your dealer and then make the signal on the felt for the cameras.
Dealers plays hand refers to the dealer card that is face up and visible to the players.
Based on what the dealer is showing, and what you have in your hand, you make the choice that follows basic strategy. Basic strategy is the mathematically optimal way to play for every combination of player hand and dealer up-card.
When you follow basic strategy and play your hand by using one of the 5 options listed above, any of these 3 things will happen:
1. Stood immediately – You were dealt a hand that basic strategy says you should not take any cards on.
2. Made a hand – You took more cards and achieved a hand total of 21 or less and did not bust.
3. Hand is out of play – You hit your hand one or more times and “busted” or you chose to surrender your hand. If your hand busts you immediately lose your wager.
It’s time for the dealer to play their hand if your hand hasn’t busted, and you didn’t surrender. The dealer will first flip over their face down card or “hole card” and add up their 2-card hand. If the dealer has a hand total of 17 or higher, they will automatically stand. If the dealer has a hand total of 16 or lower, they will take additional hit-cards.
After completing all the rounds, one of the two things will happen.
1. The dealer will bust, and they will pay even money (1 times the wager) to each hand that is still in play on the table or
2. The dealer will make a hand (17 through 21). If your hand is still in play, it’s a simple battle of who has the higher hand. If the dealer has the higher hand, they sweep your bet.
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