Learn How to Play Blackjack

Playing Blackjack and Card CountingPlaying blackjack is really simple but there can be a lot of skill involved at winning. The secret is card counting to predict the next card.

According to records the history of blackjack goes back centuries in one form or another. However if was not until the 60’s that the public started learning to beat the dealer. The casinos soon got wise to it and came up with a simple way to reduce the odds of a player using card counting to win. The number of decks of cards being used could be increased to make prediction by card counting much more difficult.

Popularity of the game soared in the belief that it was possible to beat the casinos and make money. Playing the game soon became more popular than any other table game in the US.

The Rules of Playing Blackjack

When played, a standard 52 card deck is used but when playing in a casino more than one deck will be used to maintain the house edge. More about card counting later.

In the game of blackjack each card has a point value. The jacks, queens and kings all have a point value of 10. The ace has a point value of 1 or 11 and all other cards are taken at face value. The suit of the card is mostly relevant.

The object of the game is to score 21 points, or as close as possible without exceeding 21 which is not a valid hand. It the player or the banker exceed 21 it is described as “going bust”.

Players can split their playing cards to form 2 hands. The best hand is a two card 21, or blackjack which pays 3 to 2. All other winning hands pay even money. If the banker scores 21 with 2 cards then it is a tied situation and your bet is returned, you do not lose your bet. It the dealer draws more than 2 cards to hit 21 the blackjack wins.

In a casino the blackjack table usually accommodates up to seven players. There will be a rectangular sign on the table advising what the minimum and maximum bets are. It will also advise about the rules for splitting pairs and doubling down.

Playing Blackjack

Most blackjack games at a casino use 6 to 8 standard decks of cards. The cards a shuffled and placed in the “shoe” from where the dealer draws the cards on at a time. In a casino play is with chips of various denominations.

There are many variations in the game designed to influence the outcome of the game. Mostly designed by the casinos, we advise caution when encountering variations.

Playing blackjack begins with each player placing casino chips in the designated square in front of them. after all bets have been placed the dealer gives each player two cards.

Normally the cards are dealt face up but in a game played with only one or two decks the cards may be dealt face down. in any case the bankers card are always dealt face up. The players are allowed to look at their cards and decide how to play their hands. There are set rules.

It the banker scores 16 or less he must draw more cards. The banker is permitted to “stick” on 17 points but they can still draw more cards. Of course the chance of going bust increase with each card drawn.

A “stand” is when the player or banker does not want to draw any more cards. This is signified by holding the palm of hand over the cards. Alternatively in a face down game the cards maybe slid under you betting chips.

Doubling Down

After placing the original bet the bet can be doubled and one more card is received. Sometimes casino restrict this action only to hands totalling 10 or 11. Chips are added before the card is drawn. In a face down game the first two cards have to be turned over.

Splitting the hand

If the first two cards have equal value they can be slit in to two hands. Again, chips are added and the two cards become the first card in two separate hands. The hands are both played in the same way.

Insurance

Insurance can be taken if the bankers face-up card is an ace. This is really a bet that banker has a 10 value card face-down. You then come out even if you lose the hand. It pays 2 to 1 for a stake of half the original bet.

If the banker does have a blackjack the player gets a payout equal to the original bet.

The call for this bet is “even money”.

Variations

Some variations of the game are good for the players, for instance doubling down after splitting the pairs can increase the odds. Re-splitting the aces can cut the house edge by a small margin. There some other variations which increase the house edge.

Card Counting

Card counting is really only for those with a high degree of concentration and is only for the serious player. A good blackjack player can increase the chances of winning and make the stake money last longer.

It is way of predicting the next cards which is likely to be dealt. It is necessary to keep track of the cards given to other players and the dealer. Only those with an agile mind and some persistance can do this. It is not an exact science and only produces a small increase in the winning rate.

Typically a skilled counter will only acquire an edge of less than 1%. It takes time to use that edge and periods of losses can be sustained, especially if a lot of decks of cards are used by the casino. Longer periods of play also require a larger amounts of money to stake.

Card counting when playing blackjack is not tolerated by the casinos. It you are detected you will most likely be removed from the premises. The pit bosses look out for cards counters. Card counting is not an illegal practise but it is not tolerated in casinos.

Back in the 1990’s there was a famous Blackjack card counting scam involving the use of sophisticated computers. A gang of MIT students walked away with millions of dollars. Many other famous players have written books about their experiences.

In a casino which may be using 8 decks of cards, card counting is almost impossible when playing blackjack. The skill is in remembering the numbers of high and low cards drawn and there will be so many of them the human brain will lose track due to distraction.

See our Blackjack video tips.

Online Casinos

When playing blackjack in an online casino, card counting is not possible because the outcome of any action is determined by the random number generators.

Blackjack is widely played in online casinos but it is a game of chance because of the way the computer software is set up.

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