Also popularly referred to as ’21,’ Blackjack is easily among the most widely played card games in the off-line and online casinos such as Bet365, throughout the world. It’s actually a comparison card game played between a dealer and a player, implying that the players don’t play against the other players, but against the dealer instead. Blackjack is played with either one or more 52-card decks, and its objective is to beat the dealer in any of the following different ways:
– Getting to exact 21 points with the first two cards dealt to the player, a combination that’s referred to as a ‘natural 21’ or ‘Blackjack,’ without the dealer getting a Blackjack as well;
– Getting to the final score that’s closest to 21 and better than the dealer, without crossing the 21 mark; or
– Letting the dealer draw more cards than 21, until his/her total exceeds 21 (and the dealer goes bust)
Every player is dealt two cards and they add those cards’ values to make their total. The face cards, that is: Jacks, Queens and Kings, have a value of 10 points each. Both dealer and players are allowed to treat an ace as 11 points or 1 point. The rest of the cards have values based on the numeric values on them.
After receiving the first two cards, a player has the option of either asking for a hit (taking an additional card) or simply ‘standing’ on his/her existing cards. The dealer or the player wins the round by getting a score of 21 or one that’s closest to 21, but lesser than 21. Getting a total higher than 21 is treated as a loss or a ‘bust.’ A player wins a round if he/she gets a final score that’s lesser than or equal to 21, and the dealer goes bust.
Any time a player gets an ace which is valued at 11, the hand can be termed as being ‘soft’ implying that the player can’t possibly go bust if he/she takes another card. Please note, 11 plus any other card’s value is always equal to or lesser than 21. Else, the hand is considered as being ‘hard.’
The dealer is allowed to continue hitting until his/her cards reach a total of 17 or more. You may also find dealers hitting a ‘soft’ 17 hand, meaning a hand that has an ace in it, apart from one or more cards totaling up to 17.
As also mentioned earlier, players win at Blackjack by not going bust, and achieving a total higher than that of the dealer. On the other hand, the dealer loses by going bust or having a hand that is lesser than any of the players who haven’t busted yet.
The situation where both the dealer and the player have the same card total, is referred to as a ‘push’. A player doesn’t normally lose or win money in such a situation. In case all the players go bust, the hand automatically comes to an end, without the dealer even playing his/her hand.
The game of Blackjack can be played in all sorts of variations. The game of Blackjack has for long (since the 60s era) been a prominent target for highly-skilled or advantage players, card counters in particular, who’re capable of keeping a constant track of the dealt cards and can modify their playing strategy and wagers accordingly.
The rapid popularity and evolution of Blackjack game inspired the emergence of several other popular casino card games like Pontoon and Spanish 21. Please keep in mind that the British Blackjack is nowhere close to the Blackjack we’re talking about here. The former is only a recreational shedding-type card game, completely unrelated to the one being referred to here.
Blackjack rules you should know about when you play it in a casino
Before delving into the Blackjack rules applicable in casinos, we must mention that whenever you step into an off-line or an online casino for the first time, don’t hesitate to ask for a casino bonus. Many off-line and online casinos like bet365 offer such casino bonus offers to encourage new players.
So, when you’re at a Blackjack table in a casino, the dealer would be facing 5 to 7 different playing positions while standing behind a semi-circular Blackjack table. Anywhere from one to eight standard decks of 52 cards may be shuffled together.
The beginning of every round features up to 3 players placing their bets inside the betting box in front of every playing position. This means that different players may be allowed to bet at every position of the betting table in jurisdictions where back betting is permissible.
The control of the respective playing position or betting box lies with the player whose bet is up in the front. It’s this player only that the dealer will consult for any playing decisions regarding its hand. The other back bettors are only allowed to play passively, from behind.
A player is normally allowed to bet or control as many betting boxes as he/she wants to, at any single Blackjack table. However, it’s prohibited to place simultaneous wagers at different Blackjack tables, or to place many bets inside a single betting box. Several casinos even limit players to a maximum of two or three different positions at a particular Blackjack table. Often, only one individual is allowed to place a bet on each position.
The cards are dealt by the dealer starting from his/her left, and the position on his/her far left is known as ‘first base,’ while the one on his/her far right is referred to as ‘third base.’ Every betting box is dealt an initial two-card hand visible to the players playing on it.
The dealer’s first card is usually face up. However, in case of hole card games, the dealer gets his/her second card immediately in the facedown position. The dealer is allowed to take a peek at that card, without revealing it, unless that card makes his/her hand a Blackjack.
Some casinos have special Blackjack tables where the dealers are allowed to take a peek at their hole cards through an electronic sensor or a small mirror. European casinos have a trend of ‘no hole card games,’ and the dealer neither draws nor consults his/her second card until all the players at the table have played their hands.
The cards are normally dealt either by a shuffling machine or from one/two handheld decks taken out from the dealer’s shoe. Thereafter, the dealer deals single cards to every betting position in clockwise direction, starting from his/her left, followed by one card dealt to himself/herself, and then a second card dealt to every betting position in play. The initial cards of the players may be dealt either in facedown or face up position. The former is more common in case of single deck Blackjack games.
Now, the objective of every player is to win as much money as he/she can by accumulating a card total that’s higher than the dealer’s, but doesn’t exceed the figure of 21. Alternatively, the player can let the dealer draw additional cards from the deck until he/she goes bust.
The players must go with any of the following options:
- Taking a ‘stand’ (ending their turn),
- Taking a ‘hit’ (taking another card),
- Opting for a ‘double’ (doubling the wager amount and taking just one card to finish),
- Opting to ‘surrender’ (giving up half the bet amount and withdrawing from the ongoing game) or
- Opting for a ‘split’ (in case the player receives two cards of the same value, he/she can separate them and make two different hands).
The number cards hold their natural values, the aces can be treated as 11 or 1, depending on the player’s strategy, and the picture or face cards - Jack, Queen and King, are counted as 10.
The hand goes bust the moment its value goes beyond 21 points. If that happens, all the bets placed on that position or betting box are forfeited immediately. Once all the betting boxes are done playing, the dealer resolves his/her hand by drawing cards from the deck until the dealer’s hand goes bust, or accumulates 17 or higher value. The dealer may be forced to stand or draw another card if he/she receives a ‘soft 17’ hand (including an ace), depending on the type of Blackjack game being played.
The dealer isn’t allowed to surrender, split or double. In the event that the dealer goes bust, all the players left on the table win. In case the dealer doesn’t go bust, every remaining bet on the table wins if its cards are higher than that of the dealer, and loses if its cards are lower.
In a situation where a particular player makes perfect 21 with his/her first and second card itself, his/her hand is considered a ‘Blackjack’ or a ‘natural 21.’ That player is paid out right away, unless the dealer is also in possession of a Blackjack, in which scenario the hand stands tied. In a tied situation, which is also known as ‘stand-off’ or ‘push,’ the bets are returned to the respective parties without any adjustment. However, it must be noted that Blackjack or ‘natural 21’ beats any hand which isn’t a Blackjack. What more, it beats a 21 too.
So, a Blackjack vs. Blackjack situation leads to a ‘push,’ and the wins are paid at a ratio of 1:1 (amount equal to the bet). An exception to this scenario is a winning Blackjack, in which the payout is the conventional 3:2 (implying that the player gets paid £ 3 for every £ 2 bet). Several new age casinos pay Blackjacks at lesser odds than 3:2 at some of their tables, for example, the single deck Blackjack tables usually pay 6:5 for Blackjacks, rather than the conventional 3:2.
All Blackjack games normally feature a side bet referred to as the ‘insurance.’ This side bet comes into play in the event that the dealer’s up card turns out to be an ace. More side bets like ‘dealer match’ that pay if the player’s cards turn out to be the same as the dealer’s up card, may also be available.
As a last word, many offline and online casinos, for instance Bet365, may try to offer you incentives for playing at their Blackjack tables. Although there’s nothing wrong in accepting such casino bonus, you must pay close attention to their wagering requirements.