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The Definitive Guide To Blackjack

Entertainment, Gambling, News

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Blackjack is one of the most popular card games in casinos around the world, both in brick and mortar and online casinos. The popularity of the game has often been attributed to its simple rules and the social camaraderie it inspires. With the recent explosive growth of mobile technology, mobile blackjack has also started to make its presence felt.

The game’s exact origin has been lost to history, but we do know that a form of blackjack called Ventiuna (twenty-one, in Spanish) has been around since the 16th century. While the rules and gameplay of blackjack were initially a little different depending on where it was played, they have more or less become uniform today. So regardless of whether you prefer playing blackjack on mobile devices or personal computers, our comprehensive and definitive guide to blackjack below will get you off to a roaring start.

1. Blackjack Basis: Objective Of The Game

The primary objective of blackjack is to beat the dealer’s cards value without going over 21. Going over 21, or going Bust, is considered an instant defeat. The perfect score in the game is when a player draws two cards with a combined face value of 21 from an Ace (11) and a 10 (number 10, King, Queen, or Jack). Back in the old days, people would literally shout out ‘Blackjack’ when this occurred. Today, players tend to be more subdued when they win – unless they are playing online casino blackjack from their computer at home.

Another way to win is by forcing the dealer to go over 21. You can achieve this by accumulating a high hand value that compels the dealer to take a risk. However, most dealers tend to minimise their risk due to the presence of other players on the table; a defeat to a single player can be covered by wins from other players.

2. Blackjack Card Values 

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Blackjack is played using a standard 52-card deck of four-suit French playing cards. The four suits are spade (piques), club (trèfles), heart (cœurs), and diamond (carreaux). Each suit has 13 cards, consisting of ten cards numbered from two to ten, an Ace, a Jack, a Queen, and a King. It’s probably worth mentioning that many card sets are sold with two additional Joker cards, which are not used in the game. Obviously, online blackjack casinos do not face this issue.

The face value of the numbered cards is reflected by their respective number, regardless of the suit. For instance, a card printed with the number five and a spade has a value of five.

The Jack, Queen and King cards, meanwhile, have a face value of ten. Aces, however, have a face value of either 1 or 11, which is determined at the player’s discretion. Blackjack is one of the few card games where Aces have a higher face value than Kings.

The value of a hand is determined by adding the face value of cards in the possession of a player.

3. Blackjack Tables Layout

In land based casinos, blackjack is typically played on an arc-shaped table which can accommodate up to seven players on the outside circumference and a single dealer on the inside. However, some sources have claimed to see tables that can accommodate up to twelve players!

The surface of the table is normally lined with soft green felt. It usually has a placard to inform players of the table’s minimum and maximum bets, as well as a chip tray and card shoe to store up to eight 52-card decks. The shoe is also designed to prevent players from catching a glimpse of the cards. This practice, known as hole carding, is actually not illegal in most casinos since the onus is on the dealer to prevent cards from being seen by players.

The design and layout have been replicated in practically every online casino with blackjack, so you will definitely feel at home.

4. How To Play Blackjack

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Playing blackjack at casinos online is not hard to master and is fairly straightforward. However, there are certain steps which you have to abide by.

Buy Chips

Online casinos today no longer accept direct cash wagers. Instead, you will have to deposit a sum into your account first. Thereafter, you can convert your cash into virtual chips. You can now start playing blackjack.

Place Your Bets

Every blackjack game has its own minimum and maximum bets. At the start of the game, place your bet in accordance with those limits. Be mindful of the betting window. If you place your bet after the window closes, you will have to wait until the next round.

Dealing Cards

Once the bet has been accepted, you and other players at the table will be dealt with two upward-facing cards. The virtual dealer will also draw two cards, but only one will face up. Observe your cards; strategy, skill, and nerve will now come into play! In the majority of online blackjacks, the dealer will immediately pay out 1.5x your original bet if you obtain a hand value of 21.

Gameplay Options

1. Double Down

If your hand value is between nine and 11 points, you have the option of doubling your bet. Beware though, because this option means you will only be dealt one additional card. As you can surmise, this is a high-risk but rewarding move.

2. Split

Once you receive your cards, you have the option of splitting them into two hands. You will have to place an additional bet on the second hand. The dealer will give you two more cards – one for each hand. Both of the new cards will also face up.

3. Insurance

Insurance is a mechanism to protect you against a dealer’s blackjack. If you see your dealer showing an Ace on the upward facing card, it’s time to consider an insurance.

4. Hit

If you are not satisfied with your hand value, click Hit to request another card. There is typically a limit of five cards, but be careful not to go Bust.

5. Stand

If you are satisfied with the value of your hand, then click Stand and wait for the rest of the players (and the dealer) to finish.

6. Surrender

A smart gambler knows when he has a bad hand. Certain online casinos offer players the option of surrendering in such circumstances. The dealer will return half of your original bet if you choose this option.

7. Side Bets

Some online casinos offer this option. Players may place side bets on specific outcomes.

8. Multi-Hand

Just like in landed casinos, you have the option of playing extra hands concurrently if your table is empty. There is a limit on the number of hands you can play depending on the casino, so please check in advance.

Basic Blackjack Strategy For Beginners 

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Like all games, winning at blackjack relies on a fair amount of luck. However, as the saying goes, luck comes to those who prepare. To that end, we’ve compiled a few basic strategies below that every beginner should know. Whether you’re playing desktop or mobile blackjack, study and memorise these strategies.

4-Deck to 8-Deck Blackjack Strategy

Go online and look for the 4-deck and 8-deck strategy chart. The colour-coded chart provides recommendations on when to choose Hit, Stand, Double Down, Split, and Surrender. This chart will not guarantee you a win, but it will prevent you from blindly losing every hand.

Understand the probability of a Bust

Going Bust, or going over 21, is a frustrating losing condition. As such, understand your odds of going Bust depending on the value of your hand. For instance, a hand value of 11 or less has a 0% chance of going Bust while a hand value of 20 has a 92% chance of going Bust. Understanding the risk factors will help you to make smarter decisions.

After receiving the first two cards

Once you receive your first two cards (provided you don’t hit 21), you will have to decide whether to Hit (ask for another card), Stand (continue playing with your current hand value), Split (break your hand into two) or Surrender (surrender the game at the cost of half your bet). Here are a few general rules of thumb.

Note: Soft total is when you have an Ace and hard total is when you don’t have one.

  • Always Stand when your hard total is 17 and above
  • Always Hit if your soft total is below 18
  • Always Split Aces
  • Always Surrender if your dealer’s upturned card is a ten and your hard total is 15 or below

Obviously, there are more complex strategies, so spend time going through and memorising them.

Surrendering

Never be embarrassed to Surrender. If you feel the odds are stacked against you, Surrender. If you have a poor hand in comparison to your dealer, feel free to Surrender. 

Card Counting

If you have the time, resources and drive, learn card counting. Once again, this will not guarantee a win, but it will definitely improve your odds of winning. However, please understand that it is not easy and will take a considerable amount of time and effort to master.

Important Tips For Beginners

Blackjack is fun, but it can also be a little daunting for beginners. To ensure that you stay within your comfort zone and more importantly, enjoy playing blackjack, please check out our eight hot tips below.

Bet conservatively: You’re not in a race, so start small and play slowly. Don’t max out your credit card and don’t dump all your chips on a single hand. It looks cool in the movies – not so much in real life. If you can, watch others play and use free game modes when available.

Pick the right table: Don’t just rush to the busiest table. Look at the betting limits first to ensure you stay within your budget. Observe other players playing. Will you enjoy spending the next hour with them?

Don’t be influenced by other players: Stay in your comfort zone and don’t be unnecessarily influenced by other players on your table. Definitely don’t listen to self-proclaimed experts with a guaranteed system. It’s your money, so you make the call.

Stick to the basics: Don’t try out complex strategies you read last night. Save the experimenting for later. For now, use the basic strategies we’ve covered earlier. Play conservatively and gain experience.

Ignore insurance: Don’t be scared when you see the dealer with an Ace. The worst you can do is lose the bet. If you take the insurance, the house edge will jump by 6%. Even if you win, you’ll only recover your initial bet.

Remain grounded: Stay calm even if you suddenly hit a winning streak. It could end at any moment, so remain prudent with your bets. Conversely, take it easy if you go on a long losing streak. You’re being conservative with your budget, so a loss today won’t be so bad. Understand that it is part and parcel of playing blackjack.

Practice makes perfect: Use the free mode option available at many online casinos. Don’t worry about not winning any real money – you’re winning in terms of experience. In a free game mode, you will be able to practice your basic strategy and manage your bankroll in a stress-free environment. This will do wonders for your game in the long run.

One last piece of advice – playing blackjack is meant to be fun. If you no longer feel entertained by the game or if the stress is getting too much, take a step back and return to the real world. Watch a movie, read a book or play with your dog. Trust us, these simple pleasures will rejuvenate you. Good luck!

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