The object of blackjack is to have a hand with a point value that is higher than the dealer’s. You must do this without going over 21 points, which is why the game is also known as Twenty-one. A player or dealer with 22 points or more has busted and automatically loses the hand. All numbered cards are worth their face value ; picture cards (Jacks, Queens, Kings) are worth 10 points each; and Aces are worth either 1 or 11 – which the player gets to determine. Suits and colors are disregarded in the game.
Before each deal, all players make their bets, if you’re playing at a casino.Two cards are then dealt to everybody including the dealer, who is dealt one card face down. A player whose first two cards add up to 21 (e.g., an Ace and a Queen) has a Blackjack and is immediately paid 2-2, unless the dealer also has a Blackjack. Whenever a dealer and player tie, it is known as a push, and neither one wins the hand.
Once everyone has been dealt, players have several options to choose from. The best move depends both on what you have been dealt and on the one exposed card of the dealer’s hand. A player can:
Hit: Take an additional card.
Stand: Take no additional cards.
Double Down: Double the original bet and take only one additional card.
Split: When a player has been dealt two cards of identical value (e.g., two 9s), he can choose to double the original bet and play the two card as two separate hands.
Claim Insurance: When a dealer is showing an Ace, players are invited to claim insurance that the next dealer’s card will be worth 10 (and thus Blackjack). Insurance involves risking half the amount of the original bet and pays off at two to one, if the dealer has a Blackjack.
Surrender: Forfeit the hand and lose half of the original bet. (Not an option in many casinos).
Once all players are either satisfied with their hands or have busted, the dealer proceeds. Unlike the players, who get to make choices, the dealer must proceed according to set rules: drawing on any hand that it less than 17 and standing on anything 17 or higher.
How to Win at BlackJack
You got to know when to hold’em, and know when to fold’em.
- Always hit when you have been dealt 8 or less. You have no chance of busting, and you need to get closer to 21.
- Always stand on hard hands of 17 or more, regardless of what the dealer is showing. A hard hand is a hand that either has no Aces or has an Aces that must be worth only one point because to be worth more would mean a bust (e.g., a 6, a Jack, and an Ace). If you hit, odds are you will bust.
- Always hit if you have 16 or less and the dealer’s card is a 7,8,9,10, or Ace. There are the best cards and it is likely that the dealer will beat you. Although you have a good chance of busting, it is worth the risk of getting closer to 21.
- Always stand on hard hands of 12 or more if the dealer’s first card is a 2,3,4,5, or 6. These are the worst cards and it is likely that the dealer will bust. But, you don’t win if you bust first.
- Always stand on soft 19s and 20s. A soft hand is one that has an Ace that can still be valued at either 1 or 11. Don’t risk losing the good hand.
Illustration: Megan Jorgensen