BlackJack, also known as 21, is one of the most popular Casino Table Games. Just about any Online or Brick & Mortar Casino offer this game. It’s a game of chance and a card comparing game between the dealer and the player. Since the early days of BlackJack, game was a target for the so called advantage players who were able to gain an edge over the Casino by counting cards. This was and still is possible by keeping a count on how many large as well as small value cards have been dealt. Thus, it’s possible to calculate the likelihood of player receiving high cards or even BlackJack.
BlackJack card values are really simple:
Cards between 2 and 9 hold their face value, thus 2 is worth 2 points and 9 is worth 9 points.
Face cards ( Tens, Jacks, Queens, Kings ) hold a value of 10 points.
Aces hold a value of 1 or 11 points.
Rules & Goals
The whole game is divided in rounds – a single round of BlackJack starts with players making wagers. If you’re playing Online, you’ll be the only player so the game will start once you’ve made a wager.
Each round starts with players receiving two hole cards as well as the Dealer dealing one for himself. Now there are several options for players who are dealt cards:
- Stay – don’t take any other cards and hold the hand value.
- Hit – take another card in order to increase hand value
- Surrender – get half of your wager back and be done with the hand.
- Double – double the size of your wager and take another card.
- Split – if you have two cards of exact value, you can play them as two separate hands. You’ll have to match the wager as well, though.
Now the main goal of BlackJack is to reach a higher point value than the dealer, without exceeding 21. It doesn’t matter how close to 21 are you, you can win with a score of 12, if the Dealer busts. This greatly changes the optimal Strategy for the game, as sometimes it’s mathematically correct to stand on a score of 12 or 13.
Every round of BlackJack starts with players making wagers and getting the first two cards dealt. Then they act clockwise and make a decision on how to continue with their hand. If a player exceeds the point score of 21, that particular hand of his is considered as dead and the play continues on to the next one.
Once all players have acted, dealer takes a second card. He has strict drawing rules – has to draw until he has at least 17 and has to stop, when the point score of his hand is 17 or more. So even if the dealer sees that all players have 18 or more, he can’t take a card on 17.
Insurance is a term that describes insuring your hand against the times, when dealer holds an Ace as his first card. Given that all Tens, Jacks, Queens and Kings will get him there, chances are quite high.
Insuring your hand works in a way that you have to pay half of your wager as an insurance cost and if the dealer really has BlackJack, you get a push on your wager and insurance. If he doesn’t have BlackJack, you loose the insurance bet and hand continues as it normally would.
Online vs. Live BlackJack
There’s a reason why Online BlackJack has been enjoying such a huge popularity. I was actually at a Casino yesterday and saw that the BlackJack table was completely full and no seats were open – that’s the first benefit. You’ll always be able to get a seat at the table.
Then there’s the fact that none will be able to judge your moves. I’ve experienced some trash talk at the tables from people who are results oriented, that won’t happen when playing Online.
You’ll also benefit from speed! There’s none in front of you most of the time and cards are shuffled & dealt by a computerised software. This increases the amount of hands that you’ll be able to play.
The House Edge
As previously mentioned, BlackJack is a game where players can gain an advantage by counting cards. However, if they don’t cheat and play by an optimal mathematical Strategy, House Edge is still very low – between 0.19 and 0.50 percent. This depends on the amount of decks that are used to play with. Single Deck games feature the lowest edge.