How to play Blackjack

16 December 2011
Blackjack is often referred to as 'twenty-ones', 'pontoon' or sometimes 'California Aces'. It is an incredibly popular card game, played in homes and casinos worldwide. However, there are very many variants of what is considered to be the 'traditional' or 'basic' single card deck Blackjack game. This can include European Blackjack and Multiple Deck Blackjack. Whatever the type of Blackjack that is played, it remains an incredibly popular game and this is usually attributed to the speed, pace and thrill of the game.

The most basic rule of the Blackjack game is to try and get a sum of cards that is equal to or as close as possible to the value of twenty one. All cards have the value that is indicated by their card number (for cards numbered two to ten), whilst the face cards (King, Queen and Jack) have a value amounting to ten. The Ace card can have a value of either one or eleven, and the choice is ultimately down to the player, obviously depending on the state of their hand. Another level to the game is for the player to attempt to beat the dealer.

Before the dealer deals any cards, the player must place a bet, as to whether they believe the dealer will be beaten. This bet is represented either by chips or money, and is placed on the blackjack 'table'. The blackjack table is a semi circular table, with a place for the dealer on one side and then spaces for the other players on the other side of the betting table. These other players are called the 'box holders' and they are able to make the decisions throughout the game. The dealer will then deal two cards, (face down) to every player and then two to themselves. One of the dealers cards will then be turned face up, so that the value of one of his cards is made known to all other players. Once the cards have been dealt, the players are able to look at their cards, and then assess their situation. They can they decide whether they are in a situation to request another card from the dealer (or request a 'hit') or to remain with the two cards that they have (or 'stand'). Obviously a player with a card sum value that is relatively low, is in a position to request a 'hit' from the dealer, whereas a player with higher value cards is more likely to 'stand' in order to avoid exceeding the 'twenty-one' value and going bust. Going bust means that any bets made by that player are lost and void, even if they bet that the dealer would win, since the aim of the game is to get cards that are as close as possible in value to twenty-one without going bust.

Although experience of the game blackjack is the only real way to improve your game, some people have devoted huge amounts of time in order to develop gaming strategies. This is often referred to as 'card counting', in that blackjack experts have analyzed the mathematical strategies behind the game and are able to trace the relationship between their card hand and that of the dealer, and thus predict whether the dealer is likely to exceed their personal hand value. However, the various different forms of blackjack means that the same strategies cannot always be successfully applied to every game. For example variants of the game using multiple decks, such as Las Vegas Blackjack which involved four decks, makes the card counting process incredibly difficult. In general experience and practice is the best way to ensure not only a successful but also incredibly enjoyable game.


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