Blackjack is a skill-based casino card game. The game is typically played against a dealer, and the object of blackjack is to beat the dealer's hand total, without exceeding 21. Multiple variants of blackjack have come into being over the years, but the essential elements of blackjack are standardized throughout. Blackjack is known by several names around the world including Spanish 21 and Twenty One.  In blackjack games, Aces assume a value of 1 or 11 while face cards have a value of 10 and cards 2 through 9 retain their nominal value. This game has been popularized at traditional casinos and online casinos alike, where it is played with between 4 and 8 decks of cards. Blackjack folklore recounts tales of world-famous card counters, elaborate strategies and memorable jackpot paydays. The razzmatazz accompanying blackjack has also been the subject of many films, expert guides and player articles.

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Blackjack Rules

The rules of blackjack games vary slightly between the variants that are available. Traditional casino blackjack features between 4 and 8 decks of cards. The dealer typically deals to between 1 and 7 players from behind the blackjack shoe. The game is played one-on-one between each of the players and the dealer – not between the players themselves. This is an important rule that distinguishes blackjack from games like poker. To commence a game of blackjack, players must first place a bet. Each position (player) is dealt 2 cards face up. All players at the table can see one another's cards, but only one of the dealer’s cards (the upcard) is visible to players, while the other one is face down. The dealer will normally not reveal the hole card unless he/she has blackjack. The rules of European blackjack proscribe players from viewing the dealer’s hole card. The player is tasked with making decisions about whether to hit, stand, take out insurance, double, split or surrender.

Blackjack Strategy

Blackjack is one of the few casino games where strategy charts can dramatically influence the outcomes of the games. This skill-based casino card game is played with between 4 and 8 decks at most casinos. Note that all blackjack strategy is predicated on the hand total of the player versus the dealer's upcard. Since the dealer’s hole card is unknown, players can strategize by way of probability analysis. Other assumptions that need to be taken into consideration include the following: the dealer draws to 16 and stands on soft 17s (an Ace and any combination of cards that total 6), double post-split is permitted, and only original bets can be lost when the dealer has blackjack. Various player hand combinations are shown in a blackjack strategy chart, alongside the value of the dealer’s face-up card. Hard totals and soft totals are shown, with the option to stand, hit, surrender, split, double and so forth. Players can enhance their basic strategy by considering the composition of their hand total, not just its total value. The more decks that are used, the more important it is to understand precisely how blackjack strategy charts function. Advantage play utilizes card counting abilities (memory techniques) to gain a long term advantage over the house. Players typically assign values +1, -1 and zero to cards and keep a mental check. The goal is to keep a running count that is high, low or neutral. Betting decisions are made accordingly.

Blackjack Tips

As a skill-based casino card game, blackjack can be learned and ultimately mastered. The goal is to reduce the house edge to a reasonable percentage, and blackjack basic strategy can do this. An important consideration when playing blackjack is effective bankroll management. Players can preserve their bankroll, until they are sufficiently qualified to play blackjack games for real, by playing free blackjack games. There are many tips that players can use to enjoy greater consistency in their blackjack games. These include finding a blackjack table whose minimum is no greater than 5% of your bankroll. You should typically hit on any hand total below 17 and stand on any hand total greater than 11 when the dealer holds 4, 5 or 6. When it comes to doubling, you should always double when you're holding a 10 versus the dealer's 9 and always with any hand valued at 11. Avoid splitting 5s and 10s, while always splitting 7s or 8s against a dealer's card of the same or lesser value. If you're playing at a traditional casino it is always good practice to tip the dealer. Blackjack experts recommend that players start off with low stakes games before moving to high-stakes blackjack tables. It is important to fully comprehend the rules of blackjack before playing real money games. Certain terminologies like hard 17 and soft 17 need to be understood, as do the requirements for taking out insurance, blackjack sidebets, blackjack tournament play and others.

How-to-Play Blackjack

First determine the type of blackjack table that you're going to be playing at. Typically blackjack pays 3 to 2, the dealer stands on all 17 and insurance pays 2 to 1. Players commence their blackjack games buying chips and placing wagers onto the betting square. Next, the dealer will hand out to 2 cards to each player, face up. Only one of the dealer’s cards will be visible to players, while the other one is face down. Players then evaluate their hand totals based on what the dealer is holding. Note that you cannot bust in blackjack off the first two cards dealt. Your next decision is whether to hit (take another card), stand (stay with your hand total and not draw another card), split (split your pairs and make a second bet while receiving 1 new card for each of the split cards), take out insurance (if you suspect the dealer is holding blackjack), or opt for an early surrender (if possible). Once the bets have been finalized, the dealer will reveal his/her hole card. If the dealer has bust (exceeded 21) the player wins. If the dealer’s hand total is greater than the player's hand total, but less than or equal to 21, the dealer wins.

Blackjack History

Blackjack historians pin the origin of the game to 17th-century France. The first version of the game was known simply as 21. It wasn't until the 18th century that the popularity of this casino card game took off, with its introduction to the North American continent. References to blackjack were made by a famous Spanish author named Miguel de Cervantes in his book Don Quixote between 1601 and 1602. He referenced several of his characters playing Ventiuna - a Spanish variant of 21. This particular game does not feature 8s, 9s and 10s, but it is similar to blackjack in most other ways. After its introduction to the USA, blackjack took off. Gambling establishments around the country began offering big bonuses to pique the curiosity of players. A rather serendipitous event occurred when one of the bonuses required players to compose a hand of a black Jack and an Ace of spades – hence the name blackjack. In the modern game, an Ace and any 10-value card is the equivalent of blackjack.

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