Gamblers around the world win and lose lots of money at Blackjack in casinos. Only gamblers that have truly understood the nature of Blackjack can benefit from playing this joyful game. First, I like to define gambling for all the people reading this article; Gambling means placing money in a risky bet and hoping that it will make you some profit, but you know that possibility of losing your money is much higher. For many people, playing Blackjack is gambling, but those who know the game are investing!
This article will cover the basics of casino Blackjack. We aim to prepare all Blackjack players for a real casino game and show them how it is played. Our first objective will be to explain the Blackjack itself. Then like a tour guide, we will show you how a Blackjack game is played in real casinos.
Before we define all the Blackjack terms, I would rather explain the Blackjack itself. Blackjack, traditionally called 21, is the combination of two similar games played by Spanish and French people in the 16th century. First, we should look at the game in Spain. In 1540, a tradition carried around at the capital of Spain, and people gathered in cafes, and by playing a game called 31, tried to entertain themselves. The rules of this game were like our modern Blackjack, but instead of busting out at 21, they would lose when they reached 31. Those times this game was so famous that even priests were against playing it.
Meanwhile, in France, a similar game was being played. The game was called Vingt-et-un (Twenty-One), similar rules were applying on this game, too, but in this game, Jacks valued 2, Queens valued 3, and Kings were 4. As these two countries were near each other, citizens of these two countries decided to play one game with the same rules. In the 17th century French, most gamblers were playing 21 in casinos. But the Blackjack name was first used in the United States, the same 21 with some additional rules were invented by casino owners to attract new players. Enough with the history; let’s take a look at this game’s term and start learning to play.
How to play Blackjack
The cards and purpose
Blackjack is a card game played by 52 cards that means the jokers are unaccounted for. In Blackjack, like any other card game, a standard deck of cards contains a 2,3,4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 1o, jack, Queen, King, and ace, each in one of four different suits. All the numbered cards have the same value equal to their written number on them, except for Ace which has the highest value, 11. Jacks, Queens, and kings all are valued a 10. In some cases, players can count aces as 1 (we will discuss this in another section.)
At the beginning of each hand, the dealer gives each player a card. The first card usually goes to the first player on the right side of the dealer. When the last player got his first card, the dealer draws one card for himself and show it to all the players. Then the dealer draws the second round of cards to players; this time, when he draws for himself, he won’t show it to other players. When the dealer has the second card, players should decide what to do next. Now let’s look at possible outcomes in detail.
Win, Lose, or Tie?
In Blackjack, there are three outcomes, Win, Lose, or Tie. The circumstance that makes the player win is this; when the player’s hand totals higher than the dealer’s, or when the dealer’s hand has exceeded 21 and the player is still in the game. If a player or the dealer’s total rally exceeds 21, it is called “busting” and widespread. When the player is busted or its total card rank is less than the dealer’s, the player loses the game. Tie or push is when the player’s hand and the dealer’s are at the same rank. For example, if both players’ total card numbers are 18, it is a push, and none of them collects chips. Players can tie even when they have busted. If the player and the dealer get busted, then the round is a tie.
The object of the game
The purpose of this game is to beat the dealer or the house. In some homemade blackjack games, gamblers play against each other but players should always play against the dealer when we speak about casino games.
Number of Decks
There are two types of Blackjack which one to play depends on the number of decks in the game. All the cards except for the dealer’s first card would be facedown in single and double-deck games; this means the player should pick up the cards himself to total them. But in Shoe games or the one played with more than 3 decks, all the cards are visible, and players can not touch any cards. The reason why players cannot touch the cards is gambling systems.
Above, you can see a real Blackjack table. The standard Blackjack table has seven players’ seats, these tables are in circle or box shapes, and the word “Bet” or “Blackjack” appears in the middle. Behind one side of the table, the dealer sits, and each player sits in front of the dealer. The first spot on the dealer’s right side is called “first base,” while the last one is “third base.”
Let’s see all the stuff that dealers use in this game. You can see the shoe at the dealer’s left side; the place used to put more than three decks of cards. The dealer’s right side is the discard tray, where all the used cards are put. The Chip Rack stands in front of the dealer, where different kinds of chips will be set based on their values. In casinos, the value of chips can be shown in different colors. For example, the red color is for the cheapest chips, a $5 worth of chips also called “nickels” and the green chips that we call “quarter” is for $25. In the middle of Chip Rack, we can see the black chips that each one values $100. The other colors used by casinos are optional and can vary from one casino to another.
Before sitting on a Blackjack table, players should check Signage. Signage on the table indicates the minimum and maximum bets allowed on the one hand, along with a brief description of the rules. So let’s sit and start the game.
Each hand starts with the dealer giving each player a card, and the first card will always go to the player on the dealer’s right side. When the dealer gave himself one, then he will start the second round. At this point, only one dealer card will be shown to the player, and this is when the player decides what to do. Here it is better to play a hand rather than explaining one.
As you can see in the above pictures, all the players have two cards in hand. Gene has two cards, and the total rally of the cards is 15; this means he is 6 points behind 21. If he hit (In Blackjack to have another card player would tell the dealer hit me or knocks on the table) another card, it can exceed 21 and get busted. Ann’s total number is 19, and she has a high chance of winning the game compared to the dealer’s hand. At this point, Ann will not ask for another card and will stand (if the player doesn’t need another card from the dealer, then it stands, or just wave her hand with palm facing the table). But who has the greatest hand in this picture? As you see, Carl has Ace + King, which means he has made the highest hand in the game, and if the dealer can not reach 21, he is the winner.
In the last section, we got familiar with the basic situation of Blackjack. Let’s make the game more complicated and see what happens. Now five players ask for the third card from the dealer.
Bruce asks the dealer to hit him once again; the card he receives is 2. Since he is 9 points behind 21, he should knock on the table again. Surprisingly the fourth card is Queen, and the total rally reaches 22, and he got busted.
David is the second player who asks the dealer to hit him. He has 6+7, which equals 13. The next card is two and reaches 15. At this point, he has to decide what to do; if he stays on 15, the dealers have a great chance of winning over him. But if he gets another card, he can get busted and lose the round. David chooses to stay, and compared to the dealer’s hand, he loses the game.
From my point of view, Etan’s hand is the most complicated one. He has an Ace and 5; in this situation, he can count Ace as 1 and ask for the third card, or just stay on these cards and count it as 11, in which case his rally will be 16. Interestingly he chose to ask for the third card, which is 5, and he reaches 21. Now he has the upper hand compared to the dealer.
Frank has 12 and hits; he receives a 6 and stops at 18. He has now tied the dealer, and none of them is the winner of the game.
Gene has 15; unlike David, he chooses hits; he receives a 4 and stops at 19. This part will be discussed in the following sections.
The game’s conclusion is as follows: The dealer turns over his second card, a 10, which takes him to 18, and the casino rules forcing the dealer to stop at this point. Bruce and David lose to the dealer (and the dealer takes their bets), he ties (pushes) with Frank (returns his bet) and loses against four players: Ann, Carl, Etan, and Gene (he pays Carl, who got Blackjack, one and a half times his wager).
Player’s Options on Blackjack
Besides hitting and staying, the players have other options between the second and third cards, including doubling down, splitting, and insurance.
When players have both of their cards, they can double their wager at this point. But some casinos only let this happen if two-card totals reach 10 to 11. The problem with this option is that players can only have one card after doubling dowing their bet. Let us define this with an example. The player has 6-5 against the dealer’s 8: if he doubles down and the dealer gives him a 10, he reached an unbeatable 21; however, if he receives a 2 instead, which stops him at a 13 and higher, his chance of losing the game.
When the player receives his two first cards with equal values, he can split them and consider them two separate hands. Let’s have a closer look: the two equal cards are divided, and the player places a bet the same as his original bet. The dealer hit the second card to each of the separated cards, and now two hands are played separately.
For example, the player has 7-7 against the dealer’s 8 and decides to go for a split. He receives another 7 for the first 7 that takes him to 14: a modest total against the dealer’s 8, so he asks for another card again; the card is hit, and he got busted so the dealer takes the bet for the first 7. As we come to the second 7 he receives an Ace, which takes the total to 18, a good number to stay but not that much strong. The dealer draws another 8, so the dealer with 17 will lose to the player.
One of the less advantageous options in Blackjack is Insurance. Insurance is a bet in order to insure the player against the possibility of the dealer getting Blackjack. At this point, the player makes an extra bet (typically equal to half of the original bet) that is paid 2:1. In practice, if the dealer gets Blackjack, he should pay the extra wager twice; otherwise, he takes it.
Surrender in Blackjack
Blackjack players will have a surrender option if the total value of their cards is less than 10. In this case, the dealer can collect half of the bet, and then the game is over. Blackjack players love this option, but it is not that common.
Basic Strategy in Blackjack
Basic strategy is a set of playing decisions that the player should take based on the cards on the table. We want to explain it with an example. Once, I was playing at a table; I had an ace and a four in my hand, the dealer’s card was 10 of spades; at this point, I calculated if I hit, the risk of getting busted is higher than staying. I stayed on my cards, but contrary to my calculations, the next card was 5. The basic strategy is a mathematical calculation by a computer that shows us hitting on 16 or 15 is more beneficial than staying! It has been proved that more rounds have been lost by staying on these hands than hitting.
Blackjack is an entertaining and simple game. The only thing that players should consider is their own ability. If players want to win the bet, they have to calculate the statistics. The only thing that I always recommend to gamblers is that they should be afraid of getting busted. At the first step, players should find out the table’s rules and, then use their experience to continue playing.