Blackjack Hand Value: What Beats What

Blackjack:  Who Wins?

If the dealer’s total (without going over 21) exceeds the player’s total, the dealer (or the casino, if you prefer) wins. If the player had bet $10 on the hand, the player loses $10. If both the player’s total and the dealer’s total are the same, it’s a tie, called a ‘”push” in casino lingo, and the player’s bet is returned.

However, if both the player and dealer go over 21, or ‘”bust” as it’s known in casino lingo, it’s not a “push” but a loss for the player.

That’s probably the most unfair rule there is in blackjack, but it’s one of the ways a casino maintains its advantage or winning edge over the players, and stays in business.

Other Decisions in Blackjack

In addition to deciding on every hand whether to “hit” or “stand,” a blackjack player will occasionally have to make other decisions during the course of play. Those decisions include doubling down, splitting pairs, taking insurance and surrendering.

Doubling Down

When you double down, you are allowed to double your bet after receiving your first two cards. You then receive one card only on your hand. Some casinos will allow you to double down on any two cards and some casinos limit your doubling to hands that total ten or eleven.

Splitting Pairs

If you are dealt a pair—two cards of the same value—you can split these into two separate hands. You must make an additional bet equal to your starting bet, and then you play each hand one at a time.

The dealer will give you a second card to go with the first split card, and you decide to hit or stand. After you play out this hand and stand you will move on to the next split card and the process will be repeated.

Insurance in Blackjack

If the dealer’s up card is an ace, the dealer will offer insurance, which is a side bet you make wagering half your original bet that the dealer has a ten-count card in the hole (hidden).

If you make the bet and he has the ten you are paid 2 to 1, but you would then lose your original bet but win the insurance bet, which works out to being a push of your original bet.

If you have a blackjack and the dealer has an ace you will be asked if you would like even money for your blackjack instead of 3 to 2. If you do not take the even money, you will have a push if the dealer has a blackjack.

Both the insurance and the even money bet are sucker bets, as the dealers won’t have a ten-count in the hole more times than they will have a one-count.  Basic Blackjack strategy tells you not to take these bets.

Surrendering in Blackjack

Some casinos will allow you to surrender your hand and give up half your bet on your first two cards after the dealer checks for a blackjack, and it is to the player’s advantage when played correctly. Unfortunately, though, when it is offered many players surrender more hands than they should, thus giving up the advantage gained by this option.

Article by Tom Somach

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