One of the most recognizable and playable table games at any casino, in real life or online, is Blackjack. We here at MobileSlots4U tend to rag on a bit about our favourite video slots but we've decided to step out of our comfort zone today and educate those who are unaware on the rules of Blackjack. We are only going to be covering the basics and, you'll be pleased to know, that the rules are the same online as they are in real life. However, many of you may be unfamiliar with the terminology, so we're here to clear that up.
Before you can understand the exact mechanics of Blackjack, it's better to understand just exactly what is involved first. The common misconception (because the alternate name for this game is '21') is that you must score 21 with your cards in order to win. We must stress that this is not the case. The aim of the game is to beat the dealer. This is the thing to keep in mind if you want to win.
In Blackjack, there is always at least two participants — the player and the dealer. There can be more than one player but, for the purposes of this guide, we will speak use the single player as an example. The aim of the game is to get a higher score than a dealer to win money but also not to get over 21 otherwise you lose the round.
At the start of every round, the player and the dealer are dealt two cards each from one or more decks of 52 playing cards. For the player, both cards are placed face-up on the baize while the dealer has one card face up and the other face down. The player must decide if they can win by looking at the dealer's exposed card.
What confuses a lot of first-time players of Blackjack is the exact numerical value of every cards in the deck. While it's much easier than you may believe, there are a couple of pointers you need to understand before playing. There are usually 52 cards in one deck and, depending on the casino, the dealer could make use of more than one deck.
Here are the exact values of all the cards you will come across in a game of Blackjack:
- Number Cards — All cards numbered 2 to 10 are valued at the number they display, no matter what suit they're a part of. For instance, if you get a 7 of spades and a 3 of clubs in your first draw, then you have the value of 10 in your hand.
- Face Cards — Jacks, Queens and Kings of any suit are all valued at 10. So drawing a King and Queen together would make 20 and a very good hand indeed.
- Aces — The most unusual of the bunch, all Aces can be valued at 1 or 11 depending on how beneficial it can be to the player. For instance, if you draw an Ace of Spades and you have a 10 of diamonds in your hand, you can value it at 11 and get 21 exactly. Or, if you get an Ace of Spades but have two Kings in your hand, it would be advisable to value that Ace at 1.
So now that you know the basics, it's time to familiarize yourself with the rules of the main game. Every round circulates around the table from the first player until it reaches the dealer. Now, there are different rules and moves both the dealer and the player must abide by in order to successfully win the round.
The player has two moves they can undergo in a round and they can choose to either:
- Hit — Depending on the value of the two cards he starts with, the player can say ‘hit' and get another card. They can hit any number of times but if they go over 21, they're out.
- Stand — If the player feels they have a sufficient amount on their cards to beat the dealer, then they can choose to stand and the turn passes onto the next player or onto the dealer.
There are a few strategies players can undergo to maximize their potential of getting 21, however we will save that for another time as this is only the basic rules.
As for the dealer, they too have moves every round. However they have far less choices than the player:
- Hit — If the two cards that the dealer has are under the value of 16 then they have to put down another card until they reach over 17. Once they are over 17, then they have to stop. It is possible to go over 21, however, when the dealer is under 16 so not all odds are against the player.
- Push — This happens when the player and the dealer get the same amount of value on both their cards. If this happens, neither wins and the round is forfeit. However, the following game is unaffected and the stake is returned to the player.
For the player, hit and stand aren't the only options available to them. There are a number of special moves they can exploit to ensure that they don't always lose money. These moves can be made once every round.
- Insurance — If the dealer's card at the start of the game is an Ace, the player can make an insurance bet which means they're certain the dealer will get a Blackjack. If they do, the player wins some money. This is independent of the player's main bet and has a stake of 2 to 1.
- Doubles — If they're feeling risky, the player can say ‘double' and they will receive one more card and double their bet. After this, they must stand regardless of the outcome. Only one card is allowed.
- Surrender — If all hope is lost, the player can choose to surrender and half of their original bet but lose the other half. This should only be done as a last resort and only when you can tell you're going to lose all your money. Otherwise it just seems foolish.
- Splits — When the player receives two cards of the same kind (same numerical value or suit), they can choose to split. The player then splits their hand into two hands, at once adding equal stake to the second hand. If the player wins with both they could end up with twice the winnings. But if they win on one, they win evenly. Yet they must stand once they have one card for each hand.
And finally, Blackjack is the outcome of the game. If the player scores 21 exactly with their cards, they have Blackjack. This doesn't mean they win, however, as the dealer could also have Blackjack and that initiates a push.
Remember, though, to get Blackjack is not the aim of the game. The aim is just to beat the dealer. Just remember to keep an eye on their face-up card and see if you can beat it. Even if you've got a 20, 17, or 10, you could still potentially win. 21 is merely the limit. Though, of course, it's preferable to get a 21 straight away.