Blackjack Tutorial, History, Strategy, Rules and Odds

The History of Blackjack

21 or Blackjack dates back to the early seventeenth century. The first time Blackjack was referred to was in a story that was written by Miguel de Cervantes. In that story, two of the main characters were playing a game that was referred to as Veintiuno. The purpose of this game was to get a hand total that is as close as possible to 21 without going over 21 and in that game, like Blackjack, Aces counted as 11 points or 1 point.

The game was then brought to American casinos. The game used to pay 10:1 payouts for players who get 21 points from a hand that consists of an Ace of Spades and a jack of clubs or spades. This is why it was called Blackjack. Now, any hand that consists of an ace and any 10-value card is called a Blackjack.

Blackjack Hall of Fame

The Hall of Fame of Blackjack can be found in California in the Barona Casino. It was opened back in 2002 when 7 players were introduced to the hall of fame. New players are introduced to the hall of fame every year ever since. Some of the most popular names in the H.O.F are Ken Uston who invented the idea of cooperative play; Edward O. Thorp who wrote Beat the Dealer and Arnold Snyder, the author and editor of Blackjack Forum among others.

What is Blackjack?

Blackjack is a card game that is also referred to as 21. It is one of the most commonly played casino games in land based and online casinos. The main reason behind that is that skilled and professional blackjack players can use specific tactics such as card counting in order to increase their odds and their chances of winning. Of course, the game does depend on a high percentage of luck because the cards are dealt randomly but following certain tactics would certainly increase the odds. The game is not a competitive game, as players do not play against each other. All the players at any Blackjack table are playing against the hand of the dealer who represents the house. Each player compares his hand to the hand of the dealer in order to determine the winner but players do not compare their own hands.

The main purpose of any game of Blackjack is to get a hand total that is equal 21 or close to that number without going over it “Busting”. This is the reason behind the name of the game. The hand total is calculated according to the card values. All numbered cards are counted according to the face value of each card while Jacks, Queens and Kings count as 10. As for the Ace, it can be counted as one or eleven depending on what the hand of the player needs.

The procedure of different kinds of Blackjack is similar. The game begins after players place their desired stake on the table. The dealer will then deal the player two cards facing up. Then the dealer will deal himself two cards. One card is facing up for everyone to see and the other card can only be seen by the dealer. Players will then be faced with a choice, they can “hit” which means that they will ask for another card or they can “stand” which means that they are satisfied with their hand and they do not need other cards. The dealer will then reveal his facing down card and will start asking for more cards until he reaches 17. Some games obligate the dealer to hit a soft 17 and some of them obligate the dealer to stand at soft and hard 17s. After the dealer reaches to the point where he stands, the showdown will begin. The hand that is closer to 21 will win. If the dealer and the player have the same hand total, it is a called a “push”. The player will either be refunded or lose his bet according to the house rules. Most versions pay 1:1 for winning hands and 3:2 for a blackjack win. A Blackjack is when the hand consists of an Ace and a 10 value card.

Playing Blackjack at Land Based Casinos

In land based casinos, each Blackjack table can take up to seven players at a time, besides the dealer. They all sit at a table that has the shape of a crescent. The dealer will start to deal cards to the players at the table and him. After players get their initial 2 cards, they will be able to ask for more cards “hit” or they can “stand”. According to the variation and the house rules, players can double down their bets. Some casinos allow doubling at any hand total and others allow doubling at certain hand total such as 9, 10 and 11. After players double their bets, they will take one more card and they will be forced to stand after it.

Players can also choose to “split”. Players can use this option when the initial two cards they were dealt are a pair. They can be identical pairs like two 2s, two 5s or two jacks or they can be unlike pairs such as a Jack and a 10. Some casinos allow splitting unlike ten-value cards and others do not. Splitting will split the two identical cards into two hands and players will get an additional card on each hand. Then they will start to decide if they want to hit or stand on each hand. The bet on the split hands equal the bet on the original hand that was split in the first place. Some casinos allow players to surrender. Players can opt out of the game if they think that the hand of the dealer has an advantage and that they will most likely lose. They will be able to claim half of the bet and lose the other half, which is better than losing the entire bet.

After all players reach the point where they chose to stand or if they busted, the dealer will show his unrevealed card, which is referred to as the hole card. The dealer will keep getting cards until he reaches 17. Then players will be paid according to their hand. It is important to know that during playing at the casino, all decisions are made by hand signals. Decisions like standing, splitting or hitting. This is because the games are watched and monitored by video cameras so it makes it hard for the dealer or the player to cheat the casino out of its money.

Different Blackjack Variations

There are hundreds of blackjack variations around the world. Each variation has its own rules and laws that are either a result of local laws or new concepts that are introduced by certain land based or online casinos. These rules aim to affect the house edge; this is why players are always advised to check the rules of the blackjack table before engaging. We are going to discuss some of the aspects that are affected by the different rules of the different Blackjack variants.

The Number of Decks in Play
It is a no brainer that players have higher chances of winning with one deck than two decks. This is because it will be easier for players to keep track of the cards that are dealt and the cards that are still in the deck. If a blackjack game uses a single deck of cards, the house tends to change other rules that would increase its odds while decreasing the odds for the players. For example, if a player gets an Ace in a game that is played with a single deck, it means that there are three remaining aces which decrease the probability of the dealer of having an Ace as the hole card. On the other, if the game is played with six decks, it means that there are twenty-three aces remaining.

Dealer Hits or Stand on Soft 17
Players will see on each table H17 or S17. This refers to Soft 17 and Hard 17. In the S17 case, if the dealer gets a hand total of 17, whether hard seventeen or soft seventeen, he will have to stand. As for H17, the dealer will only stop if he has a hard 17. So, if the dealer has a hand total of 17 and one of the original cards is an Ace, it is called soft 17 and the dealer will hit and get more cards.

Re Splitting
All blackjack games would allow players to split their initial hand at least once. Beyond that, it is called re splitting. This means that if the split hand forms another pair, players can split it again which means players will have four blackjack hands. Some casinos allow players to re split aces but if they do, they will only be able to get one card and they will have to stand after it.

Some blackjack versions allow players to surrender their hand and lose only half of the bet. There are two types of surrendering. The first one is called regular surrender which allows the player to surrender after the dealer checks his hole card. The other type is called early surrender; it allows players to surrender their hand before the dealer checks the hole card.

Double Down
Players can choose to double down after they are dealt their first two cards, which means that they will double their original bet and as a result, they will only be able to ask for one more card. Some casinos allow players to double down on any hand total. On the other hand, some casinos follow the Reno Rule which only allows players to double down if they have a hand total of nine, ten or eleven.

Push signifies a tie. It occurs when the hand total of the player and the dealer are equal. Some casinos refund players in case of a tie and others consider a tie to be in the favor of the dealer and the player will lose his bet.

Insurance is a side bet that players can place if the revealed card of the dealer is an Ace. This bet is equal ½ the original bet that players have placed. The player will win this bet if the dealer gets a 10-value card and scores a Blackjack. Players are advised not to place insurance unless they are counting cards because the chance of the dealer getting a blackjack is 4/13.

Side Bets
Side Bets are bets that players can place alongside the main bet. They include a variety of bets such as a pairs, 3 of a kind and more.

Playing Blackjack Online

Playing Blackjack Online resembles playing Blackjack and land based casinos with a few differences. For example, players will only play against the dealer as there will be no other players at the table, unlike brick and mortar casinos.

Players will be introduced with the same setup at land based casinos and instead of signaling, players will click on the icons on the screen. Players will also choose their chip sizes from a variety of chips available. Most casinos have four main chip colors. The white colored chips are worth £1, the red colored chip is equal £5, the green colored chip is equal £2 and the black colored chip is equal £100.

The gaming procedure is basically the same and it differs from one version to another. At online casinos, players will find more Blackjack variants with more side bets available. These side bets include pairs, perfect pairs, Hi Lo 13 and others. Players will find the payouts printed on the blackjack table and they will be able to view the rules of the table by hovering over “Game Rules”. This will list all of the rules of this blackjack game in terms of splitting, re splitting, doubling down, side bets, insurance, number of decks, surrendering, and much more.


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