Blackjack

Blackjack (or 21) is considered the most popular casino game in the world, and for good reason. It is easy to learn and has a swift pace with simple actions to be made by the players. Combine this with a usually low house edge and you have a fan favorite among the casino visitors.

Although there is much dispute aa to where the game originated, most agree that it emerged in France around 1700 and had since travelled to America and evolved into the game it is today. The reason for the name “Blackjack” seems to be from a promotion a casino offered on the game of 21 (which it was called back when) where the player were paid 10-to-1 odds on the bet if he received the Ace of spades and a black jack (either in clubs or spades). The promotion is long gone, since it gave a big player advantage, but the name stuck.

Blackjack Rules

The basic premise of the game is to get the sum of the value of your cards the closest to 21 without going over. You start out by getting dealt two cards and can either choose to hit (get another card), stand (get no additional cards), split (split your cards and play them separately) or double-down (you double your bet and get only one more card and then stand). Some games also includes insurance, where you can decide to insure your hand against blackjack in the dealers hand.

The values of the cards are somewhat different than a regular card game and a little complicated. The ace either counts as 1 or 11. The cards between 2 and 9 have face value. The 10, jack, queen and king are all valued at 10. The suits have no value.

After you have decided that you are satisfied with your hand, you let the dealer know you stand and the dealer makes his moves based on a set of rules. If the player wins, he gets his bet back and wins an amount equal to the bet. If he loses, he loses the bet. If it is a tie, he gets the bet back. If the player gets a blackjack (an Ace and a ten-valued card) on the two first cards, he gets his bet back and wins 1.5x the bet amount.

 

Although the game is quite standarized by now, there are plenty of variations on this simple game. The most common differences between each game are the following. Make sure you read the rules on each game you sit down at as the strategy you should utilize changes drastically depending on these changes:

  • Number of decks – You will find variations between single and eight deck type of games. Generally, the lower the amount of decks, the lower the house advantage is.
  • Hitting on soft 17 – The rule about wether the dealer hits or stands on a soft 17 (Ace and a six) is also a major difference. Having them hit adds quite an amount of house edge.

 

These are the major changes you need to note. There are plenty of others, but that is beyond the scope of this guide. This includes things like late surrender, limit on doubling, resplitting, ealer wins ties, altered blackjack payouts and so on.

This paragraph is just a short introduction. If you want to learn more, we recommend reading some more in depth articles on the topic. Either visit the Wizard of Odds or check out some books on the topic. We recommend the Big Book of Blackjack by Arnold Snyder.

Blackjack Strategy

basic-blackjack-strategy-cardEvery game of blackjack has a set of rules to play by in order to minimize the house edge, or in some cases actually creating a positive edge for the player. This is called the basic strategy. An example of such a strategy can be seen on the image to the right.

The card should be pretty self explanatory. You simply find the situation which fits your criterias and the chart will tell you which action will produce the play with the highest possible player edge. For this specific card it is assumed that the game in question is a 8-deck game with Las Vegas Strip rules. This entails that the dealer hits on soft 17, double after split allowed, multiple split aces, one card to split aces, blackjack pays 3:2, and (optionally) late surrender. If you are playing a game with variations to this, this card might not be the optimal one, but usually not far from it.

How these cards have come about is from simple math. Based on the cards that are in the deck and the probability of each of them hitting, the optimal play has been calculated using these functions. These plays have then been tested using a blackjack simulator that has played millions of hands again and again to determine which is the optimal play.

There are plenty of these cards to find online, so if you are looking for one to a specific game type, use google to help you in the right direction.

Play Blackjack Online

If you want to try your hand at Blackjack, you can do so from the comfort of your home. There are several online casinos that serves the game and you can get your feet wet there before heading out to a real casino. Or maybe you prefer to play the game from home. Whatever the reason, your game can be found online.

If you want to try it out for free, you can do so on our website here. Below is a flash based game of blackjack so you can try it out before you deposit real money at a casino.

Play blackjack for real money here!