Blackjack can be played with one deck of cards, up to eight decks of cards; eight decks are the regular amount used when playing Blackjack. All cards from three to ten are valued at their face value; Jacks, Queens and Kings are all valued at ten and an Ace is valued at 1 or 11, depending on the hand the player wishes to play.
The aim of Blackjack is to try and reach a total hand value of 21 or as close to 21 as possible. If the dealer or the player hits over 21; this is a ‘bust’, causing a loss. For example; if a dealer has a hand of 17 and a player has a hand of 19; this is a good place for the player to be. If the player decides to ‘hit’ and receives a 3 card, the player will bust and the dealer will win the hand. The house edge will always be at an advantage to the player when playing this game. If a dealer and player have hands that are of the same value, this will be classed as a ‘tie’; this means the original bet will be returned to the player and the game will be carried on as usual.
At the beginning of the game, each player will have to place a wager; this is known as an ‘ante bet’. The dealer will proceed to give two cards to each player in a counter clockwise fashion. One card will be dealt face-up and the other card will be dealt face-down; the facedown card is better known as the ‘hole card’. It is then the players’ time to decide what strategy to play with their hand; if the dealer has a ten or an Ace, the player will most likely ‘surrender’, if this rule is permitted. An ‘insurance bet’ is also possible if a surrender is not allowed; this is a bet to guess whether the dealer has blackjack or not; if the dealer has blackjack, all bets will be lost; if the dealer ties with the player, the wager is kept but no winnings are paid out. An insurance bet will give a payout of 2:1; if a blackjack is present, the payouts will be made, if not, the game will carry on as usual.
A ‘stand’ is when a player is happy with their hand and would not like to add another card to it. For example, if a player had a hand with a value of 20, the probability of the player receiving an Ace is very small; therefore leaving the hand to stand is the best option. A player can either say the word ‘stand’ out loud or wave the dealer on to the next person.
A ‘hit’ is when the player asks the dealer to hand them another card; the player can keep hitting until they reach the number they desire, without busting. Most players will stop at around 16 to be safe.
A ‘double’ is when a player would like to be dealt just one more card; if they feel they will gain a card that will not bust the hand, the player is allowed to double down. An extra wager can be added for that card, but doubling down is only possible on the first two cards dealt. A double down is also allowed after a split.
A ‘split’ is when a player is allowed to split their hand into two, if they are dealt a pair; for example; two 5’s or two 8’s. The player will then place a bet on the additional hand, therefore, allowing the player to play two hands. The first hand will be played until a 21 is achieved, a bust or until the player is happy sticking at their final hand value. All payouts are earned per hand; if the first hand busts, money can still be made on the other hand; as long as it beats the dealer.
‘Surrender’ allows the player to look at their first two cards and make the decision of whether to play the hand or lose half of their bet; a hand can also be folded under the surrender rule. This rule is usually only permitted if an Ace is the value of the dealers’ face-up card. ‘Late surrender’ is another variant of the rule, available in some casinos; this allows the player to surrender if the dealer does not have Blackjack, but this still means the player will not win. ‘Early surrender’ is when a player can fold before the dealer looks at or reveals his cards.
When all players have made their decisions on their hands, the dealer will see all the players cards until he is the last one on the table to display his cards; this will determine whether the house wins or not. If the dealer has a total hand value of 17 or more, they always have to stand; if the dealer has a total hand value of less than 17, they must always hit and if a dealer has a soft 17, they will have to hit. If the dealer busts, then all other players on the table that have not bust will receive their payouts.
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