A dictionary definition will tell us the very basic that we need to know about Blackjack, also known as Twenty One.
Blackjack is a card game in which the object is to get together and form a hand of cards that counts as close as possible to 21, ideally exactly that sum, and certainly no higher. At the same time, the player's hand must be higher than that of the dealer's.
In This Game Overview
- Blackjack History
- Blackjack Tips
- Blackjack Tournaments
- Blackjack Variants
- Look Out For...
- Blackjack Rules and Terms
- Blackjack Basics
- Blackjack Trivia
Simple, wouldn't you agree? If only it were really that simple... But the complexity involved, the competing strategies and the endless directions the game might follow all make this game one of the most fun and clearly of the most popular. By reading the following information on Blackjack, you will learn the secret of its popularity - the combination of luck and skill.
The Basics of Blackjack
So far we know that the key number with regard to the game of Blackjack is 21; get as close as you can to the sum, while beating the dealer's hand and not exceeding it by any means. If the player scores 21 on the first two cards - we have a Blackjack. How this goal is attained is the same as asking how is the game played. Following is the answer.
In the game of Blackjack, the dealer uses a single deck of 52 cards. In case there are two or more decks, they are drawn from a holder called a shoe. The cards do not always represent their face value, except for those 2 through 10, which do. Aces count as 1 or 11, as the player wishes, and all face cards count as 10. Card suits are of no significance in today's game.
The game begins with the players receiving one card each, face down. The bets are the player's gamble that the card is bringing him closer to a total of 21, not exceeding 21 and yet higher than the dealer's hand. Bets are accepted with every such card handout cycle and begin with a minimum before the first card was dealt.
Blackjack games may vary in the betting cycles. Bets are regularly accepted at various stages of the game: at the onset, after the first card was drawn, still face down, after each player receives the second card, still face down, and after the dealer has exposed one of his cards.
Seems pretty straightforward, right? The combination of simplicity, the element of chance and card counting (keeping track of which cards have been played since the last shuffle, a topic that will be expanded on in the following), is the secret of the game's popularity.
Blackjack Rules and Terms
You already know what Blackjack means - reaching a sum of 21 with the first two cards dealt; a natural 21. It pays off 3:2, at times only 6:5, though this is an unpopular move by the casino. This is clearly the ideal case, but what happens if no natural is reached?
Exceeding 21 is a bust, eliminating the player for the game. This is a losing hand, even if the dealer busts as well.
Hit, stand, split and double down are all options that the player has after receiving the first two cards and in later stages of the game, in case he hasn't already won the game (with a natural 21) or lost altogether (with a bust).
Hit: asking to be dealt another card.
Stand: stay with the current hand and be dealt no additional cards.
Split: if the cards are of equal value, the player can split, meaning he doubles the wager and receives each card as the first card in a new hand. This is usually limited to 2 hands, but may happen a third time as well.
Double down: doubling the wager, taking one more card and standing.
The game is played vis a vis the dealer only. It places the player and the dealer at certain possible outcomes. One such result is a push - a situation in which player and dealer have equal hand values, thus neither winning.
Mind the minimum bet, which varies from game to game and between casinos. It refers to the initial bet, be it before the cards are dealt, after the first card is dealt or after both were dispensed.
The dealer's cards are the only ones that are not dealt face down. Instead, his second card is face up, making the first card what is called a hole card. Some versions of Blackjack will have the dealer check his hole card in case the card facing up is an Ace, checking whether he has a Blackjack, terminating the game at this point with the players able to push (in case they too have a Blackjack) or lose.
The dealer is usually required to play until he reaches a hand value of 17. The player can pull out at any moment.
Keep your eyes open for...
Blackjack features several aspects that are unique among card games and casino games in general. One is card counting and the other known as insurance.
Card counting - as Blackjack is played from a limited number of cards, a deck, two or more, by keeping track of the cards that have already been played the player puts himself in better position to know when the remaining cards give him an advantage. The player may then make larger bets or choose to double down, for example, based on the situation.
Card counting may not necessarily assure winning, but it can bring the house advantage to a minimum, especially when playing with a single deck. While legal, card counting may be grounds to have the player removed from a casino table. This is not a concern when playing online.
Insurance - this is a good bet only if card counting is in place. Otherwise, the house edge is too great to consider the insurance option. Insurance is the case in which the player puts aside a sum, up to half his original bet, betting on the dealer receiving a natural 21. This is done before the dealer checks the hole card, only in case the face up card revealed to all is an Ace. Insurance pays the player 2:1, thus winning him the same amount as his Blackjack wager.
A change of rules, usually benefiting the player, creates a new variation of Blackjack. The casino usually gets a greater house edge in such games. Such variants include:
- Spanish 21 is more liberal than Blackjack. One can double down any number of cards while surrendering only one wager; Spanish 21 offers special payouts for special hands of 21, such as 6-7-8 and 7-7-7; a player's Blackjack always beats the dealer's; and no 10 cards are included in the deck.
- The English variation of Blackjack is called Pontoon. In Australia it is the same game as Spanish 21 as played in the United States.
- In Double Exposure Blackjack the dealer presents both cards face-up. The downside, in the player's interest, is that Blackjacks pay only even money and ties are losing hands.
- The French Vingt-et-un and German Siebzehn und Vier (meaning seventeen and four) versions are rarely played, especially at online casinos. Aces count only as 11, but two Aces make for a Blackjack.
- The Chinese too have their version of Blackjack, in which also there is no splitting of cards and other card combination are in place.
- The tournament format of Blackjack, in the spirit of Poker, is called Elimination Blackjack.
- In Blackjack Switch the player is dealt two hands and can switch cards between them. Natural blackjacks pay only 1:1 and not the standard 3:2.
And if these variants are not enough, side bets are also in place at some games. One such side bet has higher payouts for having the first two cards in the same suit (Royal Match) and other similar combination.
Online blackjack tournaments are far less popular than poker or slots tournaments but they do exist and they do offer a fun and rewarding experience for all blackjack players. Sit and Go 21 blackjack tournaments take place every day with multi-player games and up to eight players feature, multi-level, real-time blackjack action. blackjack is and will always remain the King of Casino Card Games, it's really easy to learn the game and is one of the few games that actually return a Player's Advantage when played with a smart system or strategy, on blackjack tournaments too.
- If insurance is offered to you when the dealer is showing an Ace - Do not take it.
- Seek out BJ games that pay 3 to 2 for a blackjack as opposed to 6 to 5.
- Take the time to learn the basic strategy of blackjack and check out our Blackjack Guides section.
- Start learning blackjack by spotting the patterns of the game and implementing the right strategy.
- First play blackjack in fun-money account mode and only after you master it switch to real mode.
- Consider starting to learn blackjack by learning to play similar games like pontoon and Spanish 21
- There are many blackjack systems, some of the more popular ones include blackjack card counting, you can learn more about that method at our blackjack guides section - where you will able to learn how to implement the method at blackjack casino games.
- You can play blackjack casinos at the most reputable casinos, make sure you read the reviews and players comments about the casino before you choose it
- Registering at online casino entitles you for a free blackjack bonus and sometimes free blackjack tournament tickets, if you're looking for blackjack tournaments microgaming blackjack games will be more of your cup of tea, and if you're more into playing against the dealer than we would recommend on the playtech blackjack game.
Blackjack could be traced back to the early 18th century. It originates from the game of Ving-et-un, played in France, the name of which means 21. Vingt-et-un then crossed to North America with the French colonists and received the name Blackjack while going through some changes in the rules, explained above in the game variants section. Since then, Blackjack has become even more popular. With the growth of online casino sites in the gaming industry during the 1990's, this game is now available to anyone with access to a computer in the form of online blackjack game. Internet blackjack game come in many variations including blackjack switch (from playtech), multi player and multi hand options and even live dealer blackjack games where players can see and interact with dealers while they play.
- Blackjack, commonly known as 21, is still called Vingt-et-un by some.
- In its early form in the United States, casinos offered a 10-to-1 payout for a hand consisting of the Ace of spades and a black Jack (clubs or spades), a hand that was called a Blackjack, giving it the name even after the winning Blackjack hand no longer has to contain a Jack or a black card.
- The Blackjack Hall of Fame is located in San Diego, California at the Barona Casino.
- The Hall was founded in 2002.
- Hall of Fame member Edward O. Thorp wrote a book in the 1960s that proved the game could be beaten with a combination of basic strategy and card counting.
- A soft hand includes an Ace because it can never bust, as the Ace value changes from 11 to 1.
- Blackjack can be played with as little as one deck and up to eight decks.
- Blackjack can be played with one hand or multiple hands at a time.
- Blackjack can normally be played with stakes as low as $1 bets.