Although there can be a variety of variations on this game, Blackjack is relatively simple to learn. Here are some basics.
In Blackjack, an ace has a value of 11 points unless the hand exceeds twenty-one. If it is greater than twenty-one, the ace will have a value of one. A suit does not make any difference in this game. Cards with Jack Queen or King count for 10 points. All other cards are worth their face value. It is the total of the card values in the hand that counts. For example, a Jack and a six equal sixteen. In hands where the ace has a value of 11, it is called a “soft” hand. (Example: Ace + 8 = soft 19). In hands where the ace has a value of 1, it is called a “hard” hand. (Example: Ace, King + 8 = 19). A Blackjack hand is the ideal one. It will consist of the Ace + a card with a value of 10 (10, J, Q, K). The two cards including the Ace will always beat a hand with 3 or more cards totaling 21.
At the semicircular table, the dealer will be able to entertain 5 – 7 players. A wager must be placed with poker chips before any cards are dealt from the dealer. Every player will receive two cards, at first, starting with the player to the right of the dealer. One of the dealer’s cards will be dealt face up and the other will be down.
The dealer’s down or “hole” card remains as such until all of the players have completed their hand. Then the dealer turns over his card. If he has a total of between hard 17 to 21, he will have to stand. If he has a total of 16 or less, he must continue to take cards until he has more than 16 or “bust”, which means more than 21.
When a player has a total card value of 21, the cards are normally turned over immediately. If both the player and the dealer have Blackjack, it is called a push or a tie, if the player did not have insurance. If nobody has Blackjack, play will continue until someone else decides to show a hand.
Initially, the dealer hands out two cards per person and for himself. After the player has looked at the hand, as well as that of the dealer’s, a choice will have to be made about what to do next. Here are the options:
Hit. If you have cards that equal 10, you should request another card to see if you can make 21. You will motion the dealer to give you another card.
Stand. This means you will stay with the cards that you have. This is indicated to the dealer by waving one’s hand over the cards in your hand.
Pair Splitting. When you have two cards of the same denomination in your hand (such as 8,8, or 10, K, that is, a pair), you are allowed to split the hand. In this instance, each card will then become part of a separate hand. The player can then draw whatever cards are needed for each of these hands. Of course, in the split, a bet equal to the first hand’s bet must be made on the second one too. (The new chip must be placed beside the original one). It is also necessary to play out one of the hands before the other. A split hand will pay 1:1 and not 3:2.
Double Down. If you think that one more card will put you in a position to beat the dealer because your two cards total ten or eleven, you may double down. The wager is doubled, and you will be dealt one additional card. Double Down is only available after the dealer has dealt the first two cards of the hand. This is indicated to the dealer by placing a chip beside the original chip bet on that particular hand.
Surrender. Sometimes it is possible to decline playing out the hand in exchange for only losing half (50 %) of the original bet. This is only permissible if the player thinks that the dealer has an unbeatable hand. If the player has drawn an additional card, then it will not be possible to use the Surrender tactic. This is a verbal request. If the dealer already has a Blackjack hand, then surrender is not possible.
Insurance. One of the dealer’s cards will be dealt face up and the other will be down. When the dealer happens to have an ace as the face-up card, he/she will ask the players if anyone wants insurance. This insurance means the player will bet that the dealer may have twenty-one when he/she turns over the other card.
This insurance bet will add up to half of the player’s original bet. If the dealer does have Blackjack, those with insurance will receive 2 to 1 on half of their original bet. If both the player and dealer have Blackjack, then there will be a push (tie) on the original bet. Of course, the insurance bet becomes null and void if the dealer does not have Blackjack.