Blackjack – Rules & Game Strategy

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Modified: 02/02/2019

The Rules of Blackjack

Before playing blackjack in a land-based or online casino, you must learn and master the rules of blackjack, this will allow you to be more comfortable during your first gaming experience and will allow the game to play faster for all players at your table.

Goal of the Game

After receiving two cards, the player draws cards to approach the value 21 without exceeding it. The player’s goal is to beat the dealer by getting a total of points higher than the dealer or by seeing the dealer exceed 21. Each player plays against the dealer, who represents the bank, or the casino, and not against the other players.

Blackjack Card Values

– Each card numbered from 2 to 10 has its nominal value (equal to the number on the card)

– Jacks, ladies and kings (figures), have a value of 10 points

– The Ace is worth 1 point or 11 points, at the player’s choice

The Blackjack Table

Blackjack is played with 1 to 8 52-card decks contained in a shoe. In America, the hooves contain 6 decks of cards, the first 5 cards are burned by the dealer at the beginning of the game.

Most blackjack tables have room for 7 players seated. There are 7 squares, up to 3 people can play on the same square, but only the seated player makes the decisions. Each player bets by placing valuable chips on the square in front of him.

Betting Limits

You will usually find a notice on each blackjack table indicating the minimum and maximum betting limits of the table. If the table limit is $2-$100, it means that the minimum bet is $2 and the maximum bet is $100.

Start a Game of Blackjack

Once you have chosen your table and purchased your chips, place your bet on the blackjack table in the circle assigned to you before the dealer deals the cards.

1. Initial card distribution

The dealer deals two cards visible to each player and deals only one card, face-up (European rule without hidden cards). In Las Vegas and outside Europe, the dealer deals himself a second hole card (turned face down against the table) at this stage.

How to get Blackjack

Blackjack occurs when the player receives 2 cards for a total value of 21 in the initial deal (an Ace and 10 or a figure). If a player has blackjack, the dealer will pay the player immediately at 3:2 (1.5 times the initial bet) before continuing with the other players at the table provided the dealer does not have an ace as his first card. In this case, an insurance will be offered to each player (see below the case of insurance). The player with blackjack will win one and a half times his initial bet if the dealer does not have blackjack after the second card is dealt to the dealer. In the event of balckjack at the player’s and dealer’s premises, the hand will be declared void and no amount will be exchanged.

2. The players’ turn

After receiving your first two cards and all the blackjack players at the table have been paid if they have to be paid, it is time to start playing. The player furthest to the left of the dealer is the first to speak.

The dealer asks the player if he wants an extra card. You can draw (ask for a card) as many times as you like, as long as you do not exceed 21. When you have a total that you find satisfactory, you let the dealer know that you are staying, and the game continues with the next player. Some additional options exist, here is a summary of all the possible actions in blackjack:

– Hit: You want to take another card, which the dealer deals you. In areas where cards are dealt with the hoof, remember to indicate to the dealer with a wave of the hand that you want to take a card or say “Card”. If the player shoots and exceeds 21, he loses his bet.

– Stand: you stay if you are satisfied with your hand, that the total is enough; you don’t want an additional card. Tell the dealer that you are being served, either by a (horizontal) gesture with your hand (above your cards) or by saying “Stay”.

– Double the bet: you double your bet and receive a card, only one. In most casinos, you can “double” only after receiving your first two cards and if they total 9, 10, or 11. This rule may vary according to the casinos in America: since March 2007, casinos can double on any result. To receive your additional card, let the dealer know that you want to “double”, simply place a second bet near the initial bet on the square and the dealer will give you one last card.

– Overtake at blackjack: Share / Split / Split: If the player’s first two cards form a pair, he has the option of splitting them into two separate hands, betting the same amount on each and playing them separately; this is called “splitting” (sharing the cards). Any 21 obtained after a split does not count as “blackjack”, since it was not made with the two original cards. The win is therefore limited to the equal amount of the committed bet (and not the payment of the blackjack at 3 for 2).

– Insurance: If the dealer’s exposed card is an Ace, the player can “take insurance” to protect himself from blackjack, i.e. place a bet not exceeding half of his initial bet. If the dealer’s hidden card is a 10 or a figure, the player wins 2 to 1; if the dealer’s second card (or hidden card) is not worth 10, the insurance bet is lost. Here’s a simple tip for players who don’t count cards: never take insurance, the odds favour the house. For card counters: if the CT is +3 or better, you always take insurance against an Ace, no matter which hand you have. More information on insurance.

– Surrender: Surrender: give up and lose half of the original bet. This option is available in Las Vegas as well as in some European and American casinos. If offered, this option benefits the player.

3: The dealer’s turn

The dealer is the last player to act. In the United States, the dealer uses two cards in the first deal, the second card being face down. In America, the dealer only uses one card, and uses the second at the end of the players’ turn. In both cases, the dealer continues to play his hand like any other player after the players’ turn.

In the European version, if the dealer makes blackjack, he collects all bets, including splits and doubles, except for players who also have blackjack. In the American version, if blackjack occurs, it only collects the initial bets of players who have shared or doubled.

In most casinos, the dealer must continue to fire until he gets a value of at least 17, at which point he will stay. If the dealer has a soft 17 (i.e. a hand with an Ace that can be counted as “11” and therefore worth 7 or 17), the house usually forces the dealer to stay. This rule is called “soft stand 17” or S17 . The other rule where the house forces the dealer to shoot a soft 17 is called “hit soft 17” or H17. The latter offers an additional benefit at home.

If the dealer jumps, i. e. exceeds 21, all players who are still in the game win. Otherwise, players with a total higher than the dealer’s win and players with a lower total lose. In case of a tie, the player’s bet is refunded (the money does not change hands).

Once all hands have been paid or the bets have been cashed, a new deal can take place.

Discover Blackjack Online

Practice playing blackjack online on our free and excellent version to understand how this game works.

The next step to progress is to learn and apply the basic strategy, a game strategy that has been calculated to limit the casino’s advantage to less than 1%.

Why Use the Basic Strategy in Blackjack?

The basic strategy is the first step in blackjack to reduce the casino’s advantage to less than 1%.

A Brief History of the Basic Strategy

The basic strategy of blackjack is the term used to describe the strategy designed to play blackjack optimally. In the 1960s, Baldwin, a mathematics teacher, first created this basic blackjack strategy by compiling with a computer all the variables of the game and all the player’s situations against the dealer in an article. Ed Thorp popularized this basic strategy in his book, beat the dealer, which became a best-seller because it reversed the blackjack advantage in favour of the player. Blackjack, which was then a more feminine game, then became massively masculine, with men starting to study basic strategies and then card counting. Casinos have since incorporated additional rules and card games into the shoe to reduce the player’s advantage: the basic strategy has therefore since been adapted to the rules and variants used. The odds presented in our pages as well as the casino’s advantage in blackjack are calculated according to current rules.

Memorize the Basic Strategy to Play Optimally

Most casinos allow players to use cards the size of a credit card with these basic strategy tables: this slows down the game and will frustrate you more than anything else, knowing that some casinos do not provide the basic strategy adapted to their rules. You will have to learn these basic strategy tables if you want to win regularly at blackjack, there is no alternative.

The Basic Strategy, an Essential Step Before Learning to Count

The basic strategy is also the basis for card counting. Once you master it, the basic strategy can evolve according to your card count. This is the next step, check out Mr. G’s lessons on card counting.

How to Count Cards in Blackjack?

The basis of blackjack card counting is to follow the cards dealt, in order to adapt your bet to the current hoof: a hoof that contains a lot of strong cards is advantageous for the player.

Principle of card counting

While the odds on wheels and other casino games are fixed, the odds on blackjack vary for each hand depending on the composition of the shoe: these are draws without discount, each draw affects the composition of future draws.

“Counting cards” is the process of following some or all cards with certain methods to obtain the ratio of low or high cards remaining to be dealt.

If the ratio indicates that there are more strong cards left to play in the hoof, the hoof is said to be “hot”. The card counter will increase its stakes because statistically the cards will be in its favor: the dealer will die more often (exceed 21), players will make more blackjacks and start with larger starting hands.

Most card counting systems start counting at 0, which means that when the first card is dealt, the count is zero. Depending on the card counting system used, this count will fluctuate after each card distributed to which a value will be assigned: for example +1, 0 or -1 in the Hi Lo system. You must track not only the cards dealt to you, but also the cards dealt to each player and the dealer.

When the hoof has a high percentage of large cards (the hoof is said to be “hot”), the player has several advantages:

– The dealer will die more often (exceed 21)

– Players will make more blackjacks

– Players will receive more strong cards and start with larger starting hands.

So when the card count is high, the card counter bets higher amounts because it has a high mathematical advantage of winning against the casino: it does not ensure that it wins every time.

Card counting doesn’t stop there, even if you bet more and win more, you have to stay focused and keep counting and following the cards. If the card count drops, becomes neutral or negative, you must bet less because the casino will have a greater advantage.

The simplest counting system is the one we recommend, namely the HI-LO count or more/minus, used by the MIT team.

Most card counting systems use positive counting. When the card count is positive, it means that there have been more weak cards played and that the shoe now contains a higher percentage of strong cards.

Is it Possible to Count Cards in America?

The answer is simple: yes. The real difficulty is not so much to know how to count cards, but to benefit from sufficient bankroll so that it becomes advantageous by limiting the risk of ruin as much as possible.

Are There any Techniques Other than Card Counting to Obtain an Additional Benefit?

Log tracking and shuffle tracking is probably the continuation and evolution of card counting. Based on the fact that high cards (figures and aces) give the player a significant advantage, some follow the piles of these cards in the shoe to increase their bet when they appear.

Ace Steering is the method used to “steal” the Ace when the method called “Ace Sequencing” is used.

These techniques are very advanced and require a great mastery of card counting, we will not develop the subject further on this site.

Free Online Blackjack Game

Free online blackjack games will allow you to discover and learn blackjack at different levels of difficulty with the basic strategy, the ultimate way to play blackjack.

Why Play Online Before Going to Play in a Real Casino?

Online blackjack has undeniable advantages, and it can be interesting to start with this step before going to the casino, in order to perfect your mastery of the game and the basic strategy.

Gain experience

On the Internet, you will save time because the deals are immediate, no need to wait for the dealer to serve you. In a land-based casino, on a full table, you play an average of 50 to 75 hands per hour. On the Internet, no less than 100 hands can be played per hour. Add to that that you can play on different squares, and you will immediately understand that this scenario will allow you to gain a lot of experience in the application of the basic strategy!

Ideal conditions to improve from home

Online blackjack offers you the possibility to bet less than in a real casino. Indeed, the minimum bet is generally around $1 while it is, commonly, around $5 in a land-based casino.

Enjoy the bonuses

Bonuses are money added to your account to play online. Not all the casino bonuses offered allow you to play blackjack so it is important to confirm this with the casino before putting your bankroll on a table.

This list is based on this reference page on bonuses at the online casino. These bonuses will allow you to play blackjack for free, for others to play longer because your deposit will be doubled.

Warning: do not count online cards

It is often repeated in the pages of this site: it is not possible to count cards in online casinos! Indeed, the game is mixed with each draw. However, there is a popular method of playing blackjack and other table games against a live dealer online, i.e. they are filmed and actually deal cards to a few players. There are usually 8 decks of cards in the shoe and the deck is redistributed in half. The advantage of counting cards “live” is minimal.