How to Play Blackjack

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Push -- When the value of the dealer's cards (from 17 to 21) and the player's cards are equal, neither party wins, resulting in a push. Blackjack -- When the first two cards dealt total 21, it is called "blackjack." This most powerful hand beats a score of 21 (consisting of 3 or more cards). Hit -- If the player desires another card to be dealt, they may take a hit at any time before standing.

Among these were The Blackjack Hijack (Charles Einstein, 1976), later produced as the TV movie Nowhere to Run, and Bringing Down the House (Ben Mezrich), also filmed as 21. An almost identical theme was shown in the 2004 Canadian film The Last Casino. Insurance bets are expected to lose money in the long run, because the dealer is likely to have a blackjack less than one-third of the time. However the insurance outcome is strongly anti-correlated with that of the main wager, and if the player's priority is to reduce variance, they might choose to make this bet. If both dealer and player receive a blackjack or any other hands with the same sum, called a "push", no one wins.

Card Counting provides the player a mathematically provable opportunity to gain an advantage over the house. It must be understood that this does not guarantee that the player will win. The table shows every possible starting player hand running down the left-hand side of the table and all possible dealer upcards running along the top of the table. Cross referencing the two will tell you the correct play to make. If the dealer busts all non-busted player hands are automatically winners.

Card counters want as few decks as possible to simplify their counts, however. If all these rules were included, collectively they would provide the player with about a 1% advantage on the dealer. Of course, when casinos include these rules, they’ll also include less favorable rules in the mix to offset them and preserve their house edge. A “side bet” in blackjack is an optional bet made in addition to the standard play.

They are not offered at all tables and are more common online than offline.

Here is an overview of some of the rules that will affect the odds of the game. If your hand is still in play, it’s a simple battle of who has the higher hand. If the dealer has the higher hand, they sweep your bet. If you have the higher hand, the dealer pays you one times your wager.

If he busts by going over 21, all the remaining players win their bets. If the dealer does not bust, then the higher point total between the player and dealer will win. If the dealer has a ten or an ace showing (after offering insurance with an ace showing), then he will peek at his facedown card to see if he has a blackjack. If the dealer has an ace showing, he will offer a side bet called "insurance." This side wager pays 2 to 1 if the dealer's hole card is any 10-point card.

There are many different rule variations and conditions that can affect how the game of Blackjack is played. In other words, not all blackjack games are created equal, in terms of the odds and favorability to the player.

Insurance wagers are optional and may not exceed half the original wager. The value of a hand is the sum of the point values of the individual cards. Except, a "blackjack" is the highest hand, consisting of an ace and any 10-point card, and it outranks all other 21-point hands.

The North American game of Blackjack, also known as 21, has been one of the most popular casino games of the last hundred years and has spread throughout the world. It prevents players (or shady dealers) from marking the top card, or from accidental exposure to players prior to the deal. If the casino wants to burn cards to deter card counting, they would periodically burn several cards in the middle of the shoe to more effectively mess with player counts. Some show it to the table automatically, some have to be asked, and (rarely) some casinos have a policy of never showing it to the player. Some blackjack tables have a practice of discarding the first card from each new shoe before beginning play.

A blackjack, or natural, is a total of 21 in your first two cards. A blackjack is therefore an Ace and any ten-valued card, with the additional requirement that these be your first two cards. Assuming you did not bust, the dealer will play out his hand at the end.

Rules about seeing this card vary from place to place, sometimes even from dealer to dealer. To the average blackjack player who is not counting cards, it makes very little difference in terms of expected return and house edge.

If you and the dealer have the same hand-total, it’s considered a “push” and you keep your money but are not paid on your wager. Blackjack is usually played on a semicircular table that can accommodate varying numbers of players. The most common tables accommodate 7 players (or seven “spots”) but we’ve seen tables that only allow 5 players and other tables that have 12 spots! The dealer stands behind the table and chip rack and the players sit on the other side. Novels have been written around blackjack and the possibility of winning games via some kind of method.

The only side bet that is standard at just about all tables is insurance. Another popular play that could double your potential winnings—and losses—on a particular hand is the double down. The double down allows you to double your wager after the initial bet, but you only get one more card. If that one additional card is enough to beat the dealer’s eventual hand, you win double the amount of cash.

If it does not beat the dealer’s hand, you could wind up losing double your initial bet. The table limits in blackjack vary from one casino to the next—both in land-based and online gambling casinos. The table limits usually start at a minimum of $5, while online casinos even offer hands of only $1. The dealer essentially plays by the same strict set of casino rules at all times.