Blackjack is one of the easiest card games to learn. If you can add up to 21 then you can learn to play blackjack. Once you have learned the rules, the best way to become acquainted with the game it practice it, which can be done for free online. Once you have the main aspects of the game down you will want to work you blackjack strategy. The majority of blackjack strategies can be used for both online blackjack and blackjack in a casino.
If you want to succeed at online Blackjack, it is important that you take the time to also learn the "why's" and "wherefore's" of playing Blackjack. In other words, instead of learning just what the "Double Down" is, take the time to learn when and why it is most advantageous to double down according to basic Blackjack strategy. Of course, a blackjack strategy card will help in this regard. But instead of simply memorizing the chart and simply acting out upon it, make it a point to learn why the rules of blackjack inform the strategy of blackjack in the way they do. In other words, learning why a move is played when, why it is advantageous to do so, it can make a difference in the quality of your blackjack game.
Objective: Many people assume that the objective of blackjack is to get a hand total of 21. That is not quite accurate. The true objective of blackjack is to beat the dealer's hand without getting a hand total of more than 21. Getting a hand total of more than 21 is called busting, and it will cause you to lose the round. The strongest hand in the game is a natural, or two-card, blackjack.
Blackjack is different from other casino cards games, like poker, in that players are not playing against each other, they are only playing against the dealer. The plays and hands of other players at a blackjack table do not have an impact on your hand and play. Each player is paid based on whether he beats the dealer or not. There is no payout to one player for having the best hand or anything like that. It is only based on player versus dealer.
Point Value: To play blackjack you need to know the point value of each card in order to be able to know your hand total. Numbered cards are worth their numeric values, and all face cards (Jacks, Queens and Kings) are worth 10 points. The Ace is a little more tricky, and is the best card you can draw. In fact, Blackjack hands with Ace's are considered to be a separate type of hand because they can have two different point values. By default, the Ace is worth 11 points which coupled with a ten-value card is the perfect hand, aka, a natural Blackjack. However, if the 11 point value will cause the hand to bust, it will only be counted as 1 point. A Blackjack hand with an Ace is either said to be soft or hard, depending on the value of the Ace. It's important to know which is which, for this will dictate how you use basic Blackjack strategy.
- Soft Hands - Blackjack hand with an Ace counting as eleven.
- Hard Hand - Blackjack hand with an Ace counting as one point.
Game Play: To begin, the dealer will deal two cards to each player. If you are playing in a face down game you can pick up your cards once they have been dealt, but you may only use one hand. If you are playing in a face up game, you man not touch the cards at all. After the dealer has dealt to all players he will deal two cards to himself, one face up (the up card) and one face down (the hole card).
Then, starting on the dealer's left, each player will take their turn to play out their hands. This is when they choose how to play the cards based on what they have in their hand versus the up card that the dealer is showing. There are a few different plays that players may choose from:
- Hit - A hit simply means you would like to be dealt another card. There is no limit on how many times you can hit your hand, so long as you do not bust. The closer the hand is to reaching 21, the more dangerous it is to hit. It is generally accepted not to hit any hand with a value of 17 or more.
- Stand - You can choose to stand at any time. This means that you do not wish to receive any more cards. Seasoned blackjack players will stand on anything that is 17 or more.
- Insurance - Although most professional blackjack players will advise against taking insurance, the casino offers it nonetheless. Insurance is an additional bet offered if the dealer's upturn card is an Ace. Basically, it is a supplement wager that the dealer is holding a Natural 21 (the wager is based on whether the hole card is a 10 or not). The amount of the insurance bet is always worth half the original wager. The dealer will ask if you would like to take insurance, at which point you will place the additional wager on the table, or decline insurance altogether. The remainder of your hand is played out as usual. Once you and the other players are done playing out your hands, the dealer will reveal his hole card. If insurance was taken, the dealer pay 2 to 1 on the insurance bet if it wins, meaning the dealer has a hole card of 10 and therefore, blackjack.
- Split - This is the act of splitting your hand into two separate hands played out side-by-side. It is only offered when your two cards are the same value, such as being dealt two 8s. Such hands are often referred to as a pair. Depending on the value of the dealer's upturn card, basic strategy will advise whether or not it is advantageous to split your hand. It is never advised to split a hand with two 5s or 10s, while it is always advised to split hands with two 8s or two Aces, no matter what the dealer is showing. Further study of blackjack and its finer points can reveal the why's behind those "rules."
- Doubling Down - Dictated by basic Blackjack strategy, doubling down is a way to further capitalize on a hand that has great potential to beat the dealer's hand. Doubling down is an additional bet made in the same amount of the initial wager, and can only be made on the first action of a hand. In some cases, it is allowed after splitting a hand. Once you decide to double down, your hand will be hit with one additional card and then you have to stand. If you win the round, you will receive double the amount you would have normally made on a winning hand. It is most advisable to play with a basic strategy chart as it will tell you when it is most advantageous to double down.
Once each player has played out their hands it is the dealer's turn to play out his hand. The dealer is bound by house rules with what he can and cannot do for plays. Dealer's are not allowed to double down or split pairs. They will usually have to stand on all 17's. This is advantageous in that if he has a 16 his must hit it; he cannot stand on it like a player the choice to do.
Once the dealer has played out his hand, payouts are made to players who have beat the dealer and the bets are collected from those who lost. The used cards are collected and set aside into the pile of played cards. New bets are placed and new cards are dealt to begin the next round.