Complete Guide to Blackjack

Blackjack is one of the oldest and most appreciated casino games around. The speed of the game, combined with the excitement and thrill that it generates, ensures that it appeals to all players. However, not everyone will know how to play blackjack, and even if you do, do you know every little detail of this popular game?

Don’t worry if you don’t because here we will outline everything you need to know, meaning you can take on the dealer in full confidence next time you play.

How does blackjack work?

Fortunately, blackjack is a relatively simple game to understand, it’s certainly not as complex as poker, another popular card game. Firstly, it’s just you against the dealer. Whether you’re playing on a full table of seven at the local casino or online, it doesn’t change.

Blackjack Table

Blackjack requires a full deck of cards and each has a value. The numbered cards (2, 3, 4 etc.) are the value of the number, whereas, any face card (Queen, Jack, King) are worth ten. That leaves the ace, which is can be worth one or 11, depending on your situation. The aim of the game is to get 21 or beat the dealer by getting closer to 21 than they do. If you go over 21, you go bust and immediately lose.

Initially, you will be dealt two cards, both face up. The same applies to anyone else on the table, although the dealer will have one of his two cards face down. Then, the game’s in full flow and you’ll have to make decisions as you look to win.

Deciding what to do

Once the initial hand has been dealt, you will be left with choices to make. Obviously, in an ideal situation you will have been handed an ace and a card worth 10, resulting in 21. Should this arise from the first hand, it’s known as blackjack and you win; providing the dealer doesn’t have the same. What’s more, you will be paid out at 3:2, instead of the regular payout which is 1:1 for any normal wins. In the case of a draw, which can often happen, both stakes will be returned and this is known as a ‘push’.

Yet, blackjack’s not always that easy. So, after the initial hand, you will get the choice of whether you want to ‘stand’ or ‘hit’. Stand means you don’t want to receive another card, essentially that you’re happy with what you have. Again, common sense will say that when you’re on a high number such as 18, 19 or 20, the chances of going over 21 on the next card are very high, so it’s better to stand and wait and see what the dealer has.

Alternatively, should you have lower value cards, you will want to hit. That means you will be given another card, which you will add to your total as you seek to get closer to 21. You can hit as many times as you want, but as we’ve mentioned, once you go over 21 you bust and lose.

Likewise, the same applies to the dealer. Once you have finished your hand and you don’t go bust, the dealer will play. They will turn over their other card and will follow the same approach as you. However, in certain cases, the dealer will be bound by the rules of the table. For instance, many will have the rule that the dealer must stand on a hard 17, whereas they must hit on a soft 17. A hard number 17 would be getting a 10 and 7 from your initial cards, whereas a soft hand includes an ace, because it means you can’t go bust.

Therefore, it’s important to consider every move, particularly with the dealers one card on show. If they have a low number, you can expect that they will have to hit, which should allow you to play it safe in the hope that they would eventually go bust. Conversely, if they have a ten on show, then they may only be one card away from winning, so you will be more inclined to take a risk. Either way, making such decisions highlight the fun and tension that comes with blackjack.

Understanding the side rules

So far playing blackjack should seem pretty easy, yet there are certain side rules that may take slightly longer to grasp. However, they present players with the opportunity to win more money and apply strategies that could be very useful. What’s more, these side rules only come into play after the deal and you don’t have to use them.

Firstly, we have insurance. This can only be played if the dealer has an ace on show and it covers you in the event of their second card resulting in blackjack. It requires an additional wager that is half your original stake, and should the dealer have blackjack you will win at 2:1, which will see you break even overall. However, if the dealer doesn’t have blackjack, the insurance wager loses and the hand plays out as normal, meaning you could lose more than your original stake. Unless the remaining deck is rich in ten-valued cards, it’s usually a bad bet.

Couple Playing Blackjack

Next, we have splitting, which occurs when you are dealt two cards of the same value (such as two 5s, two 8s, two 10s etc). Should you decide to split, the two cards will separated to create another hand, which will cost the same as your initial bet. You will then play out each of the resulting hands as normal.

What makes splitting interesting is that it can be a tough choice. Obviously, with two 10s you wouldn’t want to split as 20 is a great hand. Whereas if you had two aces, you’d have to split, because an ace is the most powerful starting card. Yet, it’s not always as clear-cut as that. What should you do with two 8s? (Yes, split.) Is it even worth splitting 5s when the wager will double and you still need high cards? (No.) Whichever way you decide to go, splitting is an intriguing aspect of blackjack and very important.

Finally, another choice comes in the form of doubling down. Once again, you place an additional wager (same stake), however in return you are agreeing to only receive one more card. If you win, you win the doubled wager, if you lose, you’ve lost more, but it can be useful in certain situations.

For instance, if you were dealt a 6 and a 5, you would then double down from 11, hoping the one card was a 10 that would see you reach 21. Even if it wasn’t, there’s still a chance that with a high value card you could win. Once your card has been dealt, you must stick. Doubling down is never a good idea if you have a hand which could bust with one more card. But in the right situations, it is one of the best options a player has in the game.

That concludes the choices that can be made during blackjack and remember that they can only arise after you’ve been dealt your hand and that they’re optional. Sometimes it’s best to play the hand out as normal, but in certain situations these bets are beneficial.

If you now feel ready to take on the dealers head over to New Jersey Online Casinos where you can put your skills to the test and keep an eye on the latest updates. This guide should help you along the way, allowing you to experience the thrills and entertainment that blackjack always provides.