A quick guide to Blackjack
Blackjack is one of the most played casino table games in the world. Although it was founded as a game of 21 in the 17th Century, as the game spread it went through many modifications and various rule-changes to become the game we now know as ‘blackjack’.
The base game is fundamentally the same throughout all versions, but the minor rules have been modified from country to country and casino to casino. This provides a great deal of variety when encountering the game of blackjack online. It’s always nice to have options!
The basics of the game can be taught quite easily, as the game revolves around a simple addition of card values. The objective is to beat the dealer or the house by out-scoring them, without exceeding the value of 21 and going ‘bust’.
It is essential to learn the fundamental rules of the game and then gain some experience on free blackjack games before moving on to real-money tables. Failure to adhere to these two pieces of advice could see you learn an expensive lesson, and we don’t wish that upon our visitors to Wishmaker Casino. You see, the rules are basic, but the strategies that need to be learned are a little more challenging, so remember to practise, practise, practise!
The first thing you need to learn is the card values, which are straightforward enough:
● Cards 2 to 9 hold their face value.
● 10, jack, queen and king all hold a value of 10.
● Ace holds a value of either one or eleven, depending on your hand/strategy.
● The highest hand, or ‘Blackjack’, is the coupling of an ace and a card with a value of 10.
The next vital thing to learn is the jargon used at the blackjack table. Some of the more basic ones are:
● HIT: Asking for another card from the dealer.
● INSURANCE: A side bet employed when the dealer’s face up card is an ace.
● DOUBLE DOWN: You can double your initial bet but will only receive one additional card.
● STAND: Stop taking cards from the dealer. The dealer can then move on to the next player to your left.
● SPLIT: Taking a hand of two duplicate cards dealt and splitting them to form two new hands. The dealer will then deal a second card onto each hand.
Layout, Mechanics and Rules
Whether playing at a land-based casino or online, the game mechanics and table-layout remain the same, as do many standard features:
● Players take their seats at a semicircle table, where the dealer stands in the arc and deals to between five and seven players.
● Between one and eight card decks are used at each table. The greater the number of decks used, the greater the house edge in the game.
● Chips are kept in the betting box. Any chips in front of the betting box are considered a wager.
● The dealer will deal two cards to each player with an active bet, starting from their far left (first base) and moving towards their far right (third base).
● Dealers will consult players with active bets about instructions for their hands once the cards are dealt.
● All players cards are dealt face up, but the dealer’s cards are dealt with one facing up and the other facing down (this is called the hole card).
● Should the dealer’s face-up card be an ace, they will offer the table ‘insurance’. This is a side bet which offers the players the ability to cover their losses if the dealer has a card with a value of 10 in the hole, giving a blackjack in hand and beating the players. If you opt for insurance and it turns out to be blackjack, you can win on the side bet. Insurance is risky because if it turns out not to be blackjack, you will lose your side bet, which is usually 50% of the main hand stake.
● Should you force the dealer to draw and they go bust (go over 21), you win that round. Likewise if you get closer to 21 than they do after you have both stood. If you go bust, you lose.
● A dealer must generally hit if the value of their cards is less than 17 and must stand if their card value is between 17 and 21. This limits their movement in the game and lowers their edge.
Some of the rules can vary from to table to table and casino to casino. If you are unsure of the rules at any table, read the basic rules on the table or ask the dealer to stipulate the rules of the game being played.
The difference in table rules will involve things like:
● Number of decks being used, which affects the dealer edge.
● How many times you can split in one round.
● How many times you can double down on one hand.
● Whether a dealer must hit or stand on a soft 17.
● Start with stakes that you are comfortable with, and enjoy the game. This will allow you to build experience, which will lead to confidence at the table.
● Read up on the various tactics that could give you an edge at the table. Ensure that they are legal tactics.
● Don’t think that blackjack is just a game where whoever gets closer to 21 wins. The game dynamic is a lot more involved than that, with many more variables at play. Often the best tactic is for the players at the table to play as a team to beat the dealer and the house.