Blackjack rules are important to understand when playing this casino table game. If played properly by using a simple Basic Strategy, the house advantage is very low, at about 0.5%.
The game is played on a table containing multiple decks of cards. (Usually six or eight). The cards are dealt from a device called a shoe or a CSM (continuous shuffle machine) by the house dealer in the casino.
The objective is for a player to have a completed hand totaling 21 or closer to 21 than the dealer’s hand. Any player’s or dealer’s hand with a sum over 21 is a bust and therefore loses.
The card values are:
2 through 9 – count as their face value
10 through King – count as a ten value
Aces – count as eleven or one
How to Play
Playing is simple. After you placing an initial wager, two cards are dealt face up to each player. The dealer also takes two cards, one face up and one down, known as a hole card.
Based on the strength of the player’s hand and the value of the dealer’s up card, the player must make one of five options:
Stand – If the player has a strong hand such as a 10, 8 totaling 18, s/he would stand by taking no additional cards.
Hit – If the player has a weak hand such as 8, 5 totaling 13, s/he may hit by requesting additional card(s).
Split – If the two cards are of equal value such as an 8, 8 the player can split by playing two hands for an additional wager.
Double Down – Player may elect to double down by requesting only one card after doubling his/her wager. One example would be a 7, 4 totaling 11. The player would hope to receive any 10-value card to make a total of 21.
Surrender – (Where permitted.) When a player has a very weak hand against a dealer’s strong hand, he/she may surrender the hand for ½ of the wager. One example would be a player with 15 and a dealer showing a 10 or ace up.
Per standard rules, a dealer must draw to a hand total up to 16 and stand (no draw) on a total of 17 or higher.
Note that the 17 rule varies between casinos. Some jurisdictions permit a dealer draw to a soft 17, (Ace + 6) others require a stand on all 17’s. Drawing a card with a soft 17 always aids the casino. Standing on all 17’s aids the player(s).
All winning hands, except for Blackjack, pay even money. A Blackjack is a two-card hand containing an Ace and any ten-value card. That payout is 3 to 2. Some casinos have reduced the BJ payout to 6 to 5. Stay away from the 6/5 games if possible. Here’s why:
Players receive an average of about four Blackjacks per hour. With a 3/2 payout at a $10 minimum table, the total win is $60, whereas a 6/5 payout would only net you $48. That’s a $12 loss per hour at a 6/5 table!
Simple Basic Strategy
Prior to playing, it is important to learn basic strategy. It is easy to comprehend and with a little practice your money can last longer at the table. Basic strategy cards are available in most casino gift shops. You can also find them on-line. Most casinos do not object to any player using the cards for reference while playing. Blackjack strategy applied properly is extremely important when playing the game.
The strategy is a blueprint for players that can greatly reduce the house edge to the aforementioned. It is easy to learn, though it does require some practice.
As previously mentioned, correct strategy is always based on the strength of the player’s two card hand against the value of the dealer’s up card. When applying this method, the player always assumes that the dealer has a ten- value card in the hole. Hence, the following strategy should be used whenever playing: Blackjack strategy applied properly is extremely important when playing the game.
Prior to Playing
Rules do vary between casinos so players should first scout the tables to look for liberal rules. In many jurisdictions the rules are posted at the table. If you do not see them, ask. Here is what to look for:
Split any pair
Double down on any two cards
Double after split allowed
Dealer stands on all 17’s
Here is the Simple Basic Strategy:
Player Hard Hands, (no Ace) if You Have:
8 or less, always hit.
9, double if dealer has 3 through 6, otherwise hit.
10, double if dealer has 2 through 9, otherwise hit.
11, Double against dealer 2 through 10, hit against Ace.
12, hit against 2 or 3, stand against 4 through 6, otherwise hit.
13 through 16, stand against 2 through 6, otherwise hit.
17 through 21, always stand.
Player Soft Hands, (one Ace) if You Have:
Ace 2 or 3, double against 5 or 6, otherwise hit.
Ace 4 or 5, double against 4 through 6, otherwise hit.
Ace 6, double against 3 through 6, otherwise hit.
Ace 7, stand against 2, 7 or 8, double against 3 through 6, otherwise hit.
Ace 8 or 9, always stand.
Player Pairs, if You Have:
Aces or eights, always split.
Twos or threes, split against 2 through 7, otherwise hit.
Fours, split against 5 or 6, otherwise hit.
Fives, double against 2 through 9, otherwise hit.
Sixes, split against 2 through 6, otherwise hit.
Sevens, split against 2 through 7, otherwise hit.
Nines, split against 2 through 6 and 8 or 9. Stand against 7, 10 or Ace.
Tens, always stand.
Blackjack side bets are also available at almost every table. Although tempting, the house edge increases a great deal when these options are selected, some into double digits. Always keep in mind that your bankroll is at a greater risk of a quicker depletion when making these inviting side bets.
Remember that no matter which game you choose, the house always has the edge over the long term. The benefit of applying proper strategy is to increase your chances for short term gain.