By no means do we encourage gambling, but if you have a little free time and
are up for the challenge, you can always try your luck at Black Jack. You won’t
be an expert after reading this column, but you will have a better
understanding of how to play the game.
The goal of blackjack, or 21, is to get a hand value closer to 21 than the
dealer, without going over 21. Each player plays individually against the
dealer, and players at the same table have no effect on each other’s game. If
the player and the dealer have the same card values, this is “push,”
and neither wins.
Each player, including the dealer, is dealt two cards and offered the
opportunity to take more. Card values are as follows: Cards 2 through 10 are
worth their face value; face cards are worth 10; an ace is worth 11, except
when it would cause the player to “bust,” (go over 21) in which case
it is only worth 1.
A “soft hand” is a hand in which the ace’s value is 11, since it
cannot be busted when the player draws another hand. The value of the ace can
turn to 1 at any time.
A “pitch game” is a game played from one or two hand-held decks. A
“shoe” is a game with four or more decks. Cards are dealt face-down
in a pitch game, and face-up from a shoe. One of the dealer’s two cards is
face-up and the other, the “hole card,” is face down.
A player automatically wins if they get a perfect two-card hand of 21, which
would be an ace with a ten value card. This hand is also called a
“blackjack” or “natural.”
After the two cards are dealt, a player has the following five options:
1. Take another card – “Hit”
2. Take no more cards – “Stand”
3. Double the wager and take only 1 more card, then stand – “Double
4. When both cards are the same value: Double the wager and each card
becomes the first card in a new hand – “Split”
5. Give up half the bet and the hand – “Surrender”
Player’s turn is over after standing, doubling down, or busting.
The dealer, on the other hand, must always play his hand in a specific way.
They cannot split but must simply hit until at least 17, or until busting. When
the dealer busts, all remaining players win. There are two popular rule
variations, listed below. The casino table will be labeled accordingly.
1. Dealer stands on all 17s: In this case, the dealer must continue to hit
until total reaches 17 or greater. An ace in the dealer’s hand is always
counted as 11 if possible without the dealer going over 21. He will continue to
draw cards until the hand’s value is 17 or more.
2. Dealer hits soft 17: This rule is identical except for what happens when
the dealer has a soft total of 17. Hands such as (Ace, 6), (Ace, 5, Ace), and
(Ace, 2, 4) are all examples of soft 17. The dealer hits these hands, and
stands on soft 18 or higher, or hard 17 or higher. When this rule is used, the
house advantage against the players is slightly increased.
These basic guidelines will start you out at a table, and learning in this
case is much easier actually done than said! Try www.blackjackinfo.com
for more details and strategies.
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