Blackjack is a card game of 21 in which players do not oppose each other, rather the house. There are usually up to seven players lined at a semicircular table, with the dealer facing them from the flat side of the table.
The majority of casinos host blackjack games with one, two, four, six and eight decks, and rarely three and five decks, which must be avoided. In our casino we host BJ with 6 decks.
Each card in blackjack has a definitive value, apart from the Ace, which could be counted as 1 or 11. The goal is to draw a combination of cards, the total value of which is higher than the dealer’s, but doesn’t exceed 21. If you draw 22 or higher, you go bust and the dealer wins the hand. Conversely, if the dealer ‘s hand exceeds 21, they will go bust and the player wins the bet.
If the dealer’s hand is equal to that of the player, the situation is called a “push” and results in both counterparts receiving back their bets. However, if one side has a blackjack (an Ace with any face-card or a 10), also known as a natural, while the other side has 21, but with more than two cards, e.g. Q83, the one with blackjack wins the hand.
As we said, each card in the deck has a definitive value, apart from the Ace.
Each numbered card (pip card), has a value equal to its numerical value, while all face cards have a value of 10.
Aces have a value of either 1 or 11, depending on the player’s preference. For example, a hand of Ace-8 equals either 9 or 19. When an Ace can be counted as an 11 without the hand’s value exceeding 21, it is called a soft hand, like for an example the Ace-8 mentioned above (soft 19). When an Ace can’t be counted as 11 because the hand will exceed 21, it is called a hard hand. For example, if a player has an Ace-8 and then draws a 5, his hand turns into a hard 14. Any hand that does not include an 11-counted Ace is a hard hand.
As we said earlier, any combination of an Ace with a 10-valued card is called a blackjack, or a “natural”. A hand with a total value of 21 that does not include an Ace is not considered a blackjack, for example J-5-6. This matters because casinos usually have an extra pay-off for blackjacks (usually 3:2), while a hand won with 21 that is not a natural receives no extra payout.
Also, a blackjack beats a multi-card total of 21 and if the player is the one with the blackjack, he would receive the extra pay-off.
Before cards are dealt, each player places his bet in the designated area in front of him, most often a square or circle. Next, the dealer draws cards from the shoe/deck and deals them, starting with the player to the left. Each gambler receives two cards initially, either facing up or down. As we’ve pointed out in the previous article, cards are dealt face down usually in hand-held games. Regardless of whether the game is shoe or hand-held, the dealer will deal themselves one card facing up.
If the dealer’s up-facing card is an Ace, players will be offered “insurance” in case the other card is a ten-valued one. Although casinos have pinned it the name “insurance” so that it sounds more attracting, this is just an entirely separate side bet that is done before any other actions.
The insurance wager is usually equal up to 1/2 of your original wager and is used to cancel out the loss incurred, if the dealer actually has a blackjack. It does that via a payoff of 2:1. For example, if your original bet is $100 and your insurance is $50, if the dealer has a blackjack, you will lose your $100 bet but win on the insurance at the ratio of 2:1, thus 2 x $50, which cancels out the initial loss.
However, If the dealer does not have blackjack, they will collect the insurance bet and the hand will continue as normal.
The play continues
If the dealer does not hold an Ace or a 10-valued card, the game continues with the player’s decision. The player always has two possible options, and in some cases two additional ones (to split or double down – to be explained a bit later).
The first play is to “hit” a card, which means the player is not satisfied with the value of his hand and draws another card. The player can hit cards until his hand accumulates a value of 21 or exceed it, in which case he is busted and the house wins.
The second play is to “stand down”, which means the player is satisfied with his hand and abstains from drawing further.
After this phase, the dealer takes the bets of all bust players and pays off the bets on all blackjacks, typically at a 3:2 ratio. Some casinos host games with a 6:5 blackjack payoff ratio, which should be avoided.
Once all naturals are paid and the money on all busts is collected, the dealer draws cards, according to the table’s rules.
If the dealer busts, all active players who haven’t busted win their hands. Those players who busted still lose their hand, since their money has already been collected in the previous stage of the game.
If the dealer doesn’t bust, the value of their hand is compared to the value of each active player’s hand. Those players with a hand greater than the dealer’s are paid even money, which is placed next to the player’s original bet in the table’s designated area. Thus, an original bet of $100 earns another $100 for a total of $200 in front of the person.
Those players with a hand of lesser value compared to the dealer’s lose their original bet. If a player has a hand equal to that of the dealer, a “push” is declared and each side takes back its original bet. This concludes the hand and the game continues with the next deal.
The 17 rules.
– Dealer stands on All 17s, abbreviated as S17
Here the dealer stands on a hand that totals 17, regardless of whether it includes an Ace or not. For example, if the dealer holds A-3-3, 10-7, 9-8, they will stand. This rule favors the players.