Blackjack, often referred to as twenty-one, has its roots in the gaming parlors of Europe, specifically France, but today can be found in any casino across the globe. This is one of the few casino games that if played correctly can actually give the player the advantage, it’s fairly easy to learn, and provides endless fun.

Aim of Blackjack

The aim of blackjack is to get closer to the number 21 without going over it than the other guy. If you are the customer in a casino, the ‘other guy’ is the dealer who represents the house; if you are the dealer in a home game, the ‘other guy’ is each of the players involved. Blackjack is played between the dealer and each player, so as a player you only need to worry about what the dealer has, not what the other players have.

Dealing in Blackjack

There are some rules that make the game play a little more complicated than the basic aim would imply, but these rules are pretty straight forward too. A number of regular 52 card decks are shuffled together by the dealer, and a player may be asked to cut the deck. Beginning at the dealers left, cards are dealt one at a time to each player including the dealer, until each player has 2 cards in front of him. Mostly the cards will always be dealt face down except for the dealer’s second card which may be dealt face up – this can vary from casino to casino. Betting can also vary. Most usually players lay their bets before the cards are dealt, however in some games one card is dealt and then bets are laid. In this latter type the second cards for everyone are usually dealt face up. These details will be made clear at specific tables.

Playing Blackjack

Now to the actual play; number cards are worth their face value, picture cards are worth 10, and an Ace may be worth 1 or 11 depending on how you wish to use it. You add up the values of the 2 cards that you have been dealt and decide whether it is worth it for you to request another card or not. There is some thing called “basic strategy” which all new players should have a look at. Whether you choose to play with basic strategy or not, looking at it will give you an idea of what sorts of hands are worth “hitting” on, and which should be “stuck” on. Blackjack is a game of probabilities, and one’s success will be affected by one’s ability to assess a situation rationally. For example, if you have a hand the value of 19 you would have to get either an ace or a 2 to stay in the game – unlikely and thus ill-advised.

The Dealer’s Dilemma

Whilst you, the player, has a choice of what to do with the cards you are dealt, the dealer will have no such luxury. Every casino has strict rules regarding what the dealer can hit on and what he must stick on; these rules will be quite literally written on the table on which you play. This is important to know because your decision will take into account what the dealer has showing.

In blackjack the cards speak for themselves, and if you beat the dealer you will be paid out accordingly. The regular pay out is even money, but there some exceptions; for example a 21 or less in 5 cards pays out at 3:1.