If you’re new to gambling — specifically, card games — chances are you got hooked on cards by watching poker tournaments on TV or online. Poker, specifically Texas hold ‘em, is one of the most popular games right now. But this blog post isn’t about Poker. It’s about Blackjack, another popular card game… but one that, in my opinion, is still fairly underrated.
Blackjack may not get all the media attention that Poker does, but this is a game worth pursuing. Games of Blackjack are tense, exciting, and full of strategic depth. It’s really easy to learn Blackjack, but it could take years, even decades, to learn Blackjack.
Now, the time it takes to master the game is why I love it. But I understand it might not be that way for other players. And that’s why I started the My Blackjack Tips blog. This blog is meant to make the learning curve somewhat easier to navigate.
If you haven’t considered playing Blackjack before, I highly recommend it. I used to be a diehard Poker fan. And while I still love Poker, Blackjack has overtaken it as my preferred card game. Why? It’s the apparent simplicity, which is pretty deceptive. This is a serious game for serious players, and requires serious skill.
Here’s a quick intro to the game of Blackjack. I’ll be giving you all the info you need to get started on this awesome game. Want to know how to play Blackjack? Read on! I will now teach you how to play black jack.
What is Blackjack?
Blackjack, and its many variations, has been around for hundreds of years. But in the early 20th century, casino owners wanted to promote a new game. That game, of course, was Blackjack. They encouraged players to give it a try by providing cash incentives. The game was sometimes called “Twenty One” but casino owners had a catchier name for the game: Blackjack. The name comes from the bonus they gave players if they had an Ace of Spades, and either of two Jacks: the Jack of Spades, or the Jack of Clubs.
The Object of the Game
As the original name of Twenty One implies, the object of the game is to build a hand with a value of 21. The player that comes closest to this number without going over it is the winner. To add a bit more complexity, the Ace can be counted as either 1 or 11. Blackjack has several variations, but they all have the same general object: to get as close as possible to 21.
One of the unique aspects of Blackjack is that players play against the dealer, not each other. This doesn’t mean games are free of tension, though. Blackjack is a riveting game!
Betting and Playing
You, and other players, place your bet before you get dealt your cards. Some casinos and gambling establishments will have minimum and maximum betting limits — usually a minimum of $2 per game, and a max of $500 per game. The dealer will always be at an advantage, since he or she can read how people place their bets.
After betting, you will get two cards, dealt face up. The dealer gets one card, also face up, and another card, which is face down.
If your total hand value is either 9, 10, 0r 11, you can choose to double down. if you have two 5 cards, you can opt to split the pair. Doubling down means you double the original bet. After these choices are made, players can opt for a third card (to “hit”) or keep their two cards (to “hold”).
If any player’s opening hand totals 21, this is called a Natural. If the dealer’s face-up card is either a 10 or an ace, they are allowed to look at the second card to check if they have a Natural.
If you’re lucky enough to have a Natural while the dealer doesn’t, the dealer will pay you back one and a half times your bet. If the dealer has a Natural, he or she collects all the bets of players who don’t have Naturals.
If a player and the dealer both have Naturals, that is considered a tie, and the player gets to take back their bet.
So the above items included the basic rules for Blackjack. I included some terms (such as “double down” and “split”) that may be somewhat alien to new players. I’ll be tackling those terms below. It’s also time to give you a few basic strategies. These tips hardly scratch the surface of the game, but they’re decent, beginner-friendly ways to improve your game.
You win in Blackjack by playing your hand optimally. If the dealer has a good face-up card, say, 7 to 10, or an Ace, you should not stop hitting until your hand reaches 17. If the dealer’s face-up card is bad, say 4 to 6, you shouldn’t stop hitting until your hand reaches 12 or higher. Basically, never hit if there’s a big risk of you going bust. Also, you’ll want to let the dealer keep hitting, and hopefully go bust.
Always split your hand if you are dealt a pair of 8s or aces. A hand with two 10 cards should never be split, as is with a hand with two 5s. Doubling-down would be a better strategy for these hands. Generally, you shouldn’t split hands that total 8 or above.
If your hand totals 11, a rule of thumb is always to double down. If your hand totals 10, you should not double down if the dealer gets a 10 or an ace. If your hand totals 9, you should only double down if the dealer gets a crappy hand.
If you get a soft hand, you’ll want to keep hitting until you get at least 18. The variable value of the ace will offset some of the risks of hitting, while maximizing your chances of getting 21.