Blackjack Strategy – A Game You Can Play and Beat

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Blackjack the Game

Blackjack, also known as 21, is one of the most popular casino games around. The guaranteed winning percentage of the casino over the long run—the “house edge”—is one of the lowest among all casino games, meaning it’s one of the easiest casino games to win at.

Combine this with the fact that blackjack is a simple card game that’s simple to learn and simple to play, and you can see why it is so popular not just at brick-and-mortar casinos around the world but at online casinos as well.

Hands of Blackjack vary from the smaller $1 hands to the high stakes blackjack tables which can go up to $10,000 per hand.  In any case Blackjack is enjoyed by all sorts of people.

Basics of Blackjack

The basic premise of the game is to get a card hand value that is closer to 21 than that of the dealer, without going over 21.

Other players at the table are of no concern to you, as your hand is strictly played out against the hand of the dealer. And the dealer, unlike you, makes no decisions about play—all the dealer’s decisions are mandated by the rules. So what are the rules of play, let’s see.

Values of Cards

First off, you must learn the values of all the cards in blackjack, which is easy enough.

For the most part, the value of the card is what the card is. A 2 is worth 2, a 3 is worth 3, and so forth, up to and including a 10, which is worth 10. All face cards—jack, queen and king—are also worth 10.

An ace is the only card that can have two values—either 1 or 11—depending on which value is more beneficial for the hand in play. The suits of the cards don’t mean anything in the game. The value of a blackjack hand is the sum of the values of each card in the hand.

Blackjack Hand Example

For example, a hand containing a 5, 7 and 9 has a value of 21. You need not specify what value the ace has, as it’s always assumed to have the value that makes the best hand.

Suppose you have a beginning hand of an ace and a 6—this hand can be worth either 7 or 17. If you stop there, it will be worth 17. If you draw another card to the hand and now have an ace, 6 and 3, your total hand is now worth 20, with the ace counting as 11. But if you had instead drawn a third card which was an 8, and the hand is now ace, 6 and 8, which totals 15—notice that now the ace is counted as only 1 to avoid going over 21.

How to Play Blackjack

After everyone in the game makes a bet, the dealer deals the cards to the players. The dealer will make two passes around the table starting at his left and your right so that the players and the dealer have two cards each, and the dealer will flip one of his cards over, exposing its value.

In some casinos, the players’ cards will be dealt face-up, and the players are not allowed to touch the cards. At other casinos, the players’ cards are dealt face down, and the players must pick up the cards and discreetly look at them to see their values.

It doesn’t really matter which method is used in the game you’re playing, as there’s no advantage or disadvantage to either method since the cards will have the same values whether everyone sees them immediately or you’re the only one who sees them immediately.

After the Initial Deal

Once the cards are dealt, play proceeds around the table, starting at the first seat to the dealer’s left, also called first base.

Each player in turn indicates to the dealer how he or she wishes to play the hand, and after each player has finished the hand, the dealer will complete his or her hand, and then pay or collect the players’ bets.

How the Dealer Plays Blackjack

As mentioned earlier, the dealer must play his or her hand in a specific way, with no choices allowed. Generally, the dealer must hit his or her hand if its value is 16 or less, and stand if the hand’s value is 17 or more.

(There are some variations of this rule in European casinos and elsewhere, but in

Las Vegas and most other places the dealer draws until he reaches 17.)

How the Players Play Blackjack

The player, on the other hand, can hit (take another card) or stand (stay pat) whenever he or she wishes. If at the end of the game, the total value of all a player’s cards exceeds—without going over 21—the dealer’s total, the player wins. If the player had bet $10, for example, on the hand, the player then wins $10.

(The lone exception is if the player is dealt a “natural blackjack,” which means the player’s first two cards are an ace and a 10 or face card and total 21 in value—in this case the player is paid off at 3-2 odds, or $15 on a $10 bet.)

Online Blackjack Tips

Your strategy online does not vary too much.  The way the house plays blackjack varies at each online casino.  Also, of course, the rules will vary according to what type of blackjack games you play.  In the spirit of this site we’d like to metion we do have Mac online blackjack games out there that will indeed support Mac users.

Article by Tom Somach

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