Blackjack Guide

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A Blackjack Guide

Follow this blackjack guide and you’ll end up a better player. The card game of blackjack is almost exclusively played in the casino. This is simply because you’re playing against the dealer. The game uses a traditional deck of playing cards. Interestingly enough, it’s one of the few casino games where you, the player, can have the odds in your favor. You’ve probably read stories about “card counting.” It certainly works, but let’s get into that later on.

Blackjack Guide
A busy table – Image source: Flickr

The History of Blackjack

The general consensus is that blackjack probably originated in French casinos in the 1700’s. At that time the French were playing a game called “Vingt-et-Un,” which translates into English as “21.” Going further back, it’s thought that this latter game was derived from the popular card game, “Chemin de Fer.” This was played during the reign of King Louis XV in the Royal French Court.

Off To The US

Later the game made it’s way to US shores thanks to the French colonists. And here the game’s popularity increased so much, that by the 1820’s it was played at all legalized gambling halls throughout the country. It should be pointed out that up until this time, the game was still called 21. In the mid 1800’s the name was changed to blackjack. The actual name itself comes from the way gambling halls back then were promoting the game. It was commonplace to offer a bonus payout if an extra black jack or a jack of either Spades or Clubs was dealt along with another black ace. As the games popularity grew, these bonus payouts were fazed out, but the informal name of blackjack stuck.

Introduction: Blackjack Guide

Let’s start with the deck of cards. In blackjack the suits are of little consequence. The hands being played are scored according to the card rank. So, for example, an ace is worth 1 or 11 points, a “face” card (Jack to King) is worth 10, and all the other cards are valued according to their rank, ie a 3 is worth three points and a 6, six points. To calculate your score, you simply add up all the card points. The highest hand without going over 21 points is the winner. Anything thing over is called a “Bust” or “Dead Hand.”

A Blackjack Guide: What is The House Edge?

As you probably already know, all casino games have a built in mathematical bias towards the casino itself. This is known as the “house edge.” Blackjack is the same, but it offers the player the lowest house edge of all casino games. A casino, like any other business is looking at it’s numbers in terms of an hourly loss. By doing this the casino can figure out future income projections and how best to utilize their floor space. They need to maximize generated income per square foot.

blackjack guide
Blackjack is the most popular casino game

Value For Money

In most casinos, blackjack is offered at 0.5%. This means, for example, if your spending $5 per bet, and you’re betting 100 times per hour, then your loss will be 0.5% of that. In other words, you spend $500 but you’ll lose only $2.50 per hour. This is by far the lowest when compared with any other casino game. And, as we mentioned, there are some techniques that’ll more than even out those odds and make you a constant winner.

Blackjack Basic Terms

The game is played at a blackjack table. This can seat up to seven people on the one side, with the dealer standing opposite. The dealer deals two cards for you and two for himself. You turn your cards over. If the total points score is low, you can ask, “hit” meaning the dealer should deal you another card. You may ask for as many as you think will still keep your score under 21. As previously stated, you want the totals to add up to 21 or as near as possible. If you don’t want another card, you simply say, “stand.” If you go over, then that’s called a “bust.”

More Blackjack Terms

Yet another common term you’ll hear is “splitting.” This occurs when you receive two cards of the same rank. You may split them and play them as two hands, by placing a bet on each of them. “Doubling Down” means that you are placing an additional wager whilst agreeing to take one more card at the same time. And the final term we’ll cover is “Surrendering.” This is when you agree to lose half your bet and drop out of the game. On the whole in most casinos you’ll have the option of surrendering after the dealer has checked his cards for a blackjack. But remember, if the dealer has a blackjack, there’s no option for surrendering and the complete bet is lost. We’ve actually written a blackjack glossary for you to learn all the terms.

A Blackjack Guide: Blackjack Betting

Normally blackjack pays out at 3 to 2. This means that if you bet $20, you would win back $30. If both you and the dealer have a blackjack, then the casino considers this a draw, and your bet is returned to you. Another point if you win, is that most casinos pay out at even odds, This means that a winning $20 bet earns you a $20 payout. Some casinos will offer a 6 to 5 payout. Be wary of these as it changes the odds in favor of the casino.

The Role of The Dealer

There is a fixed and prescribed fashion in which the dealer can play. On the whole he must stand if he has a total of 17 or more. On the other hand he will hit if he has 16 or lower. Having this rule adds an extra edge of 0.2% for the casino. For the full casino experience, you should try the live dealer experience at King Billy Casino. That’s right, there’s a real live dealer for you to chat with and whilst you play. It’s great fun.

Poker game Play

Here’s how the game of poker plays out:

1. The players place their bets.
2. The dealer deals out everyone’s cards.
3. The dealer checks if he has a blackjack. If so, he then collects his bets from all the players without a blackjack.
4. If the dealer does not have a blackjack, then the players who were dealt a blackjack get paid off 3 to 2.
5. Then the players get to play their hands, hitting, standing, splitting, doubling down, or surrendering, as the case may be. If at any point a player’s hand totals 22 or more, they are bust and lose their bet and are out.
6. Once the remaining players have made their decisions, the dealer plays his hand.
7. All the bets are settled finally.

A Blackjack Guide: Advantage Play

Now we’ve covered the basics, there’s one aspect that we should touch on, as it’s a means whereby the player can have the edge. These techniques are definitely not cheating as they still remain within the rules of the game. Probably the best known of these techniques is counting cards. As seen in the movies, “Rainman”, “21“ and “The Hangover”, anyone with a little time and patience can learn. This is because you’re not actually having to remember each previous card played. You can find some useful blackjack strategies here.

Blackjack guide
Nothing is better than a dizzy night next to a blackjack table

Counting Cards

Essentially you’re using a heuristic system to keep track of the ratio of high to low cards in the deck. When the deck has a relatively large number of high cards, then you raise your bets. With a relatively low number of high cards, then you’ll need to lower your bets. An example would be a deck where all the aces have already been dealt. You know from this that the odds of getting a blackjack are zero. So you will not see a payout until the deck is re-shuffled. There are many ways to keep count. But the simplest and most often used is the “hi lo” method. It works like this:

Every time you see a 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6, you add 1 to the count.
Every time you see an ace or a 10, you subtract 1 from the count.

Counting Cards is Frowned Upon

If the total count is positive high, then you wager more. Conversely, if it’s showing a negative, then you bet the table minimum. But here’s the rub. Though card counting is not illegal or against the rules, it is frowned upon. If the casino staff think you’re counting cards, they may start shuffling every hand. Or you may be asked to stop playing poker altogether. In a worse case scenario, be aware that you can be banned from the premises. If you’re going to count cards, then practice some. And then practice some more. Whatever you do, you’ll be needing to look natural. Have a look through our best casino jackpot reviews to find the best sites to play on. Come back to this blackjack guide whenever you need a knowledge boost. Good Luck!

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