Blackjack Basics

Blackjack is a worldwide classic, and one of the most loved of all card games. Its original name Twenty-One speaks its objective with an enticing appeal for its apparent simplicity. It can be played by any number of individuals betting against the dealer, or banker.

A hand of twenty-one is a sure win and therefore the ideal. But possessing a card value that totals close to, but not exceeding, twenty-one may also constitute a win if it is the highest one on board.

The dealer deals two cards to each player and to himself. In the first card pass, each player receive his faced up. The dealer's, however, is faced down: this is the "hole" card. The second card dealt to the players is again faced up, but the dealer issues none to himself yet. Starting from the player to his left, he grants their request for an additional card if they believe it will bring them closer, if not exactly to, twenty-one. This is called "hitting." After all players have completed their hands, the dealer completes his with a second card, and then reveals his hole card. Opposed to this, a player not wishing further cards is "standing." A total of 16 or less obliges him to draw another card. If his hand totals 17 or more, he must stand. The highest total on the table not exceeding 21, be it the dealer's or any of the players, wins.

If a dealer's hand "busts," that is, his total goes over 21, the player possessing the highest total under 21 wins. A "stand-off," wherein the dealer and the players' hands are the same, constitutes no win or loss, and is therefore a draw.

Blackjack uses a standard deck of 52 cards. All cards are employed, except for the joker. Face cards, that is, the Kings, Queens, and Jacks, are each valued ten; aces can either be one or eleven, and can vary during the play depending on the holder's need; the rest are taken for their indicated numeric values. An ace and any of the face cards constitute a 21. When played with a stakes, it is worth one and a half the player's bet.

Tactics concerning bets include splitting and doubling down. In splitting, two cards of equal value are used to form up to three separate hands. Each one can be dealt with an additional card, but they must also be accompanied by a wager of the same amount as the owner's original bet. In doubling down, additional bets not exceeding the original can be placed on a combination of cards valuing nine, ten, or eleven - not the ace card. Just like the split card, another card can be dealt for it.