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Beginner’s Blackjack: Understanding Blackjack Rules, Etiquette and Simple Strategy

Jun 5, 2014

beginnerbj20140204Beginner’s Blackjack

Blackjack is a great casino game, since it’s one of the few table games outside of poker that can be won using skill. While the blackjack rules appear simple on first glance, to become a good player you’ll need to master them, along with basic strategy.

Unlike the roulette table or craps where the outcome depends on random numbers and a bit of luck, by knowing how the game of blackjack functions, understanding its rules and employing strategy, it becomes easier to win at blackjack.

If you’re a pro player, maybe this article isn’t for you, but for those curious about playing blackjack for the first time, or novices who don’t know the ropes of playing the game, then read on!

Blackjack basics

First things first, you’ll need to know how to play by the blackjack rules before being able to break the casino with card counting technique or complex game play you’ll read about on blackjack blogs.

Basic blackjack strategy tips:

• If your cards are 8 or under, always hit, no matter what the dealer shows.
• If you get a hard 17 through to 21, always stand no matter the dealer’s up card.
• If you have a 10, and the dealer has a 10 or ace, hit, otherwise, double down.
• If you have an 11, the dealer an ace, hit, otherwise double down.

To understand the basics, in blackjack it’s important to talk a bit about the deck. Normally, blackjack uses a 52 card deck, usually more than one, since sometimes two decks are used, but this can go up to 6 or 8 depending on the casino.

The cards that run 2 to 10 have their face value, whereas face cards are rated a value of 10 and aces are either 1 or 11. The simple objective of the game is to either get a blackjack (two cards totaling 21), get as close to 21 as possible by beating the dealer.

The players are dealt their hands and must decide how to play. When it comes to the dealer, he or she must draw more cardsuntil they hit 17, on which they must stand. The dealer only draws once the players have played their cards.

When you play, you must hit, stand, double down, spit, surrender or ask for insurance.

You hit to get your cards closer to 21, but if you go over this number then you “bust” and lose the bet. In a casino, you’ll tap the cards to signal you want to hit, since verbal calls are not enough for in casino games.

You stand when your cards are high, and drawing anymore risks busting. To signal this in a cards-up game, you’d wave your hand over the cards to signal a stand.

Hitting and standing are basic moves, but sometimes you’ll want other options. If you have a total of 10 or 11, then you may want to double down, so you put an identical bet by placing two chips equal to your original bet, next to the original cards.

If you have identical cards, you can split the pair and start as a separate hand. To do this you place another identical bet. To decide when to double down or split, read a little about basic strategy.

dealersupcard20140605

Sometimes, if the dealer’s card shows an ace, you can take insurance, which takes half of the original bet, although many blackjack pros advice against it.

Variations of blackjack rules

Not all games of blackjack are created equal, for example, Vegas casino blackjack rules may differ from those found in Macau or Monte Carlo.

These shifts may appear to be insignificant, but bare in mind that even a slight change in the blackjack rules could skew the house edge in their favor.

For example, allowing the player to double down after splitting is good for the player, but bad for the house edge. It’s a good idea to scout the casinos if you have a choice here.

Surrendering is a rule that changes from casino to casino. Some permit early surrenders, when the dealer’s face card shows an ace, the house can allow a player to surrender half the original bet instead of playing the hand before the dealer checks for blackjack.

Late surrender allows the player to give up half the bet rather than playing the hand once the dealer checks the blackjack. Some casinos also allow players to surrender in general, like if they have a hard 16 and the dealer shows a high card.

The usual payout of 3-2 in blackjack favors the player, but some casinos pay out 6-5, which benefits the house. It’s best to avoid these games if you have an option to go for 3-2.

Good table manners

Playing blackjack isn’t just about knowing whether to hit or stand, but it also includes the player customs and etiquette when it comes to the game.

For example, when you sit down at the blackjack table, you wait for the dealer to finish the hand in progress and then once he or she is done, you then place the currency on the table and push it toward the dealer saying “change please”.

Once you’ve placed a bet by putting the chips in the betting box, you keep your hands off them. When betting, stack the smallest denomination on top.

Make sure you learn how to use hand signals. Most casinos won’t accept verbal calls to hit or stand, and so on. This is a basic must for casino blackjack play.

And if you want to take a break to use the rest room, you can ask the dealer to mark your place, where a plastic disk will be used in your betting box to indicate the seat is occupied.

Smart strategy

Once you get how betting etiquette works in the casino and you’ve understood the blackjack rules, you can then play better by employing smart strategies which will help skew the advantage in your favor.

Blackjack strategy allows you to make a statistical approximation on how you can play with the best possible odds available. An easy way of doing this is to use a strategy chart, which you can take with you, but it’s best to learn the rules off by heart.

So once you’ve got a handle on the rules, this should be your next avenue to blackjack success!


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