Blackjack is one of the most popular casino games, due in part to it’s simplicity but also because it is one of the few casino games where your decisions can affect the outcome of your bet. The basic idea of the game is to get closer to 21 than the dealer without going over or ‘busting’, with the cards having their face value, picture cards counting as 10 and aces counting as either 1 or 11.
To start with you sit at a table and place your bet in the spot corresponding to your seat. Everyone is then dealt 2 cards face up with the exception of the dealer who receives one card face up and one face down (sometimes he will receive one face up only). The players will then take it in turns to play, deciding whether to hit (take another card) or stand (take no more cards) whilst trying to beat the dealer. There are also other options which come up from time to time:
Split: When the player has two cards of the same value he may ‘split’ them. This will involve placing another wager of the same amount of the first and making two hands from the original cards. These two hands are then played as normal.
Double Down: A player may ‘double down’ by placing another bet of double his original stake and receiving only one more card. There are only a few situations where this is a good bet. Some casinos limit when the player can double down, a common rule being that he/she may only do so when the first two cards total 9,10 or 11.
Insurance: This bet is considered a bad bet, as the house advantage is high on it, and therefore we shall not give details of it and do not recommend you taking insurance when offered to you.
After all the players have taken their turns, the dealer will take his. The dealer does not have any choice in how to play and must stick to certain rules. Normally they will have to ‘hit’ until they reach 17 when they will stop. The dealer will then pay everyone who has beaten him even money, whilst collecting the bets from those who have bust or have less than him. When he has the same as the player the bet is a ‘push’ and the stake is returned to the player. One last important rule: an ace with either a ten or picture card as the first two cards for either dealer of player is known as a blackjack and is an automatic winner. If the player has this and the dealer does not then the player is paid at 3:2 ie. a Ł20 stake will return Ł50 (Ł20 stake and Ł30 winnings).
1/ Try and learn Basic Strategy. This will show you the best way to play for any given situation. Sticking to basic strategy will reduce the house edge to between 0 and 1%, depending on the rules at the particular casino.
2/ Try not to play at casinos where the dealer ‘hits soft 17’, also try and play at tables where they use a low number of decks, one being the best. Both these will reduce the casinos advantage and give you a better chance of winning.