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Blackjack Rules How to play blackjack? VideoHow to Play Blackjack by a Las Vegas Dealer
The dealer receives one card face up and one face down. Continue until you desire no more cards. You are allowed to double your bet after receiving your first two cards.
You do this by placing the additional chips next to your original bet. If you decide to do this, you receive only one additional card.
If you receive two cards of the same number, you can split them into two separate hands. Do this by placing another equal bet alongside your first bet.
However, in a single deck game, players should hit if their 12 consists of a 10 and a 2. The presence of a 10 in the player's hand has two consequences: .
However, even when basic and composition-dependent strategy lead to different actions, the difference in expected reward is small, and it becomes even smaller with more decks.
Using a composition-dependent strategy rather than basic strategy in a single deck game reduces the house edge by 4 in 10,, which falls to 3 in , for a six-deck game.
Blackjack has been a high-profile target for advantage players since the s. Advantage play is the attempt to win more using skills such as memory, computation, and observation.
These techniques, while generally legal, can be powerful enough to give the player a long-term edge in the game, making them an undesirable customer for the casino and potentially leading to ejection or blacklisting if they are detected.
The main techniques of advantage play in blackjack are as follows:. During the course of a blackjack shoe, the dealer exposes the dealt cards.
Careful accounting of the exposed cards allows a player to make inferences about the cards which remain to be dealt.
These inferences can be used in the following ways:. A card counting system assigns a point score to each rank of card e.
When a card is exposed, a counter adds the score of that card to a running total, the 'count'. A card counter uses this count to make betting and playing decisions according to a table which they have learned.
The count starts at 0 for a freshly shuffled deck for "balanced" counting systems. Unbalanced counts are often started at a value which depends on the number of decks used in the game.
Blackjack's house edge is usually between 0. Card counting is most rewarding near the end of a complete shoe when as few as possible cards remain.
Single-deck games are therefore particularly advantageous to the card counting player. As a result, casinos are more likely to insist that players do not reveal their cards to one another in single-deck games.
In games with more decks of cards, casinos limit penetration by ending the shoe and reshuffling when one or more decks remain undealt.
Casinos also sometimes use a shuffling machine to reintroduce the exhausted cards every time a deck has been played. Card counting is legal and is not considered cheating as long as the counter is not using an external device,  : 6—7 but if a casino realizes players are counting, the casino might inform them that they are no longer welcome to play blackjack.
Sometimes a casino might ban a card counter from the property. The use of external devices to help counting cards is illegal in all US states that license blackjack card games.
Techniques other than card counting can swing the advantage of casino blackjack toward the player. All such techniques are based on the value of the cards to the player and the casino as originally conceived by Edward O.
Shuffle tracking requires excellent eyesight and powers of visual estimation but is more difficult to detect since the player's actions are largely unrelated to the composition of the cards in the shoe.
Arnold Snyder's articles in Blackjack Forum magazine brought shuffle tracking to the general public. His book, The Shuffle Tracker's Cookbook, mathematically analyzed the player edge available from shuffle tracking based on the actual size of the tracked slug.
Jerry L. Patterson also developed and published a shuffle-tracking method for tracking favorable clumps of cards and cutting them into play and tracking unfavorable clumps of cards and cutting them out of play.
The player can also gain an advantage by identifying cards from distinctive wear markings on their backs, or by hole carding observing during the dealing process the front of a card dealt face down.
These methods are generally legal although their status in particular jurisdictions may vary. Many blackjack tables offer a side bet on various outcomes including: .
The side wager is typically placed in a designated area next to the box for the main wager. A player wishing to wager on a side bet is usually required to place a wager on blackjack.
Some games require that the blackjack wager should equal or exceed any side bet wager. A non-controlling player of a blackjack hand is usually permitted to place a side bet regardless of whether the controlling player does so.
The house edge for side bets is generally far higher than for the blackjack game itself. A side count, designed specifically for a particular side bet, can improve the player edge.
Only a few side bets, like "Lucky Ladies", offer a sufficient win rate to justify the effort of advantage play. In team play it is common for team members to be dedicated toward counting only a sidebet using a specialized count.
Blackjack can be played in tournament form. Players start with an equal numbers of chips; the goal is to finish among the top chip-holders. Depending on the number of competitors, tournaments may be held over several rounds, with one or two players qualifying from each table after a set number of deals to meet the qualifiers from the other tables in the next round.
Another tournament format, Elimination Blackjack , drops the lowest-stacked player from the table at pre-determined points in the tournament.
Good strategy for blackjack tournaments can differ from non-tournament strategy because of the added dimension of choosing the amount to be wagered.
As in poker tournaments, players pay the casino an initial entry fee to participate in a tournament, and re-buys are sometimes permitted.
Some casinos, as well as general betting outlets, provide blackjack among a selection of casino-style games at electronic consoles. Video blackjack game rules are generally more favorable to the house; e.
Video and online blackjack games generally deal each round from a fresh shoe i. Blackjack is a member of a large family of traditional card games played recreationally all around the world.
Most of these games have not been adapted for casino play. Furthermore, the casino game development industry is very active in producing blackjack variants, most of which are ultimately not adopted for widespread use in casinos.
The following are the prominent twenty-one themed comparing card games which have been adapted or invented for use in casinos and have become established in the gambling industry.
Blackjack is also featured in various television shows. Here are a few shows inspired by the game.
Examples of the many local traditional and recreational related, blackjack-like games include French Vingt-et-un "Twenty-One" and German Siebzehn und Vier "Seventeen and Four".
Neither game allows splitting. The dealer turns up a 10 for 16, then draws a 5 for 21, beating all players at the table.
The third baseman is likely to take heat from other players for taking the dealer's bust card instead of standing. If you don't want the heat, sit elsewhere.
If you wish to use the rest room and return to the same seat, you may ask the dealer to mark your place. A clear plastic disk will be placed in your betting box as a sign that the seat is occupied.
Because the player hands are completed first, the players have the chance to bust before the dealer plays. And the house wins whenever the player busts, regardless of how the dealer's hand winds up.
That is the entire source of the casino's advantage in blackjack. Because of this one edge, the casino will win more hands than the player, no matter how expert.
The casino gives back some of this advantage by paying on blackjack, allowing players to see one of the dealer's cards, and by allowing the player to double down and split pairs.
To take advantage of these options, the player must learn proper strategy. Played well, blackjack becomes a game of skill in a casino full of games of chance.
Studies of millions of computer-generated hands have yielded a strategy for when to hit, when to stand, when to double, when to split.
This strategy can take the house edge down to about 0. In a single-deck game in which the dealer stands on all 17s and the player is allowed to double down after splits, a basic strategy player can even gain an edge of 0.
Needless to say, such single-deck games are not commonly dealt. Compare those percentages with players who adopt a never-bust strategy, standing on all hands of 12 or more so that drawing a 10 will not cause them to lose before the dealer's hand is played, to players who use dealer's strategy, always hitting 16 or less and standing on 17 or more.
These players face a house edge estimated at 5 percent — about 10 times the edge faced by a basic strategy player. Basic strategy takes advantage of the player's opportunity to look at one of the dealer's cards.
You're not just blindly trying to come as close to 21 as possible. By showing you one card, the dealer allows you to make an educated estimate of the eventual outcome and play your cards accordingly.
One simple way to look at it is to play as if the dealer's facedown card is a Since value cards 10, jack, queen, king comprise four of the 13 denominations in the deck, that is the single most likely value of any unseen card.
Therefore, if you have 16 and the dealer's up-card is a 7, you are guessing that the most likely dealer total is The dealer would stand on 17 to beat your 16; therefore, you must hit the 16 to have the best chance to win.
On the other hand, if you have 16 and the dealer's up-card is a 6, your assumption would be that his total is 16, making the dealer more likely than not to bust on the next card.
Therefore, you stand on 16 versus 6. That's an oversimplification, of course, but very close to the way the percentages work out when the effect of multiple-card draws are taken into account.
The most common decision a player must make is whether to hit or stand on a hard total -- a hand in which there is no ace being used as an Basic strategy begins with the proper plays for each hard total faced by the player.
You can refer to this simple chart:. Many players seem to hit the wall at 16 and stand regardless of the dealer's up-card. But that 16 is a loser unless the dealer busts, and the dealer will make 17 or better nearly 80 percent of the time with a 7 or higher showing.
The risk of busting by hitting 16 is outweighed by the likelihood you'll lose if you stand. Basic strategy for hard totals is straightforward enough, but when it comes to soft totals many players become confused.
They seem lost, like the player aboard a riverboat in Joliet, Illinois, who wanted to stand on ace-5 --a soft against a dealer's 6. The dealer asked if he was sure, and another player piped in, "You can't HURT that hand," so the player finally signaled for a hit.
He drew a 5 to total 21 and was all grins. In a facedown game, no friendly advice is available. Once, at a downtown Las Vegas casino, the dealer busted, meaning all players who hadn't busted won.
One player turned up two aces and a three. Though it worked out that time, five or 15 never wins without the dealer busting, and the player could have drawn at least one more card without busting.
That's too big an edge to give away. Nothing you could draw could hurt a soft 16, or a soft 15, or many other soft totals. Just as with hard totals, guesswork is unnecessary.
A basic strategy tells you to what to do with soft hands. The hand of ace and 6 is the most misplayed hand in blackjack. People who understand that the dealer always stands on 17 and that the player stands on hard 17 and above seem to think 17 is a good hand, but the dealer must bust for 17 to win.
If the dealer does not bust, the best 17 can do is tie. By hitting soft 17, you have a chance to improve it by drawing ace, 2, 3, or 4, or leave it the same with jack-queen-king.
That's eight of 13 cards that either improve the hand or leave it no worse. And even if the draw is 5, 6, 7, 8, or 9, you have another chance to draw if the dealer shows 7 or better, and you're still in position to win if the dealer busts while showing 2 through 6, and all you've given up is a chance to tie a You can refer to this chart for soft-hand strategies:.
Standing on soft 18 will lose the player money in the long run when the dealer shows 9, 10, or ace. When the dealer shows 3 through 6, the chances of the dealer busting are strong enough to make doubling down the best play here.
The final category of hands consists of those in which the first two cards match. Then the player must decide whether or not to split the pair into two hands.
You can refer to this chart for pair splitting advice:. Many casinos allow the player to double down after splitting pairs.
This is a good rule for players -- in fact, any rule that allows a player an option is a good one if the player knows when to take advantage of the option.
If you split 8s against a 6, for example, and a 3 is dealt to your first 8, you now are playing this hand as an 11, and it is to your advantage to double down if the house allows it.
You can find many single-deck games in Nevada, and they pop up occasionally in other parts of the country. A good example of a doubling opportunity is when you hold a total of 11, like a 6,5 against a dealer's upcard of 5.
In this case, you have a good chance of winning the hand by drawing one additional card, so you should increase your bet in this advantageous situation by doubling down.
If you are playing in a hand-held game, just toss your original two cards face-up on the table in front of your bet.
In either type of game, add an additional bet to the betting circle. Place the additional bet adjacent to the original bet, not on top of it.
The dealer will deal one additional card to the hand. In a shoe game, he will probably deal the card sideways to indicate that this was a double-down.
In a hand-held game, the card will be tucked face-down under your bet to be revealed after the hand is over. Depending on what the dealer makes on his hand, it can be an exciting wait to see that card revealed at the end!
You are allowed to double down for any amount up to your original bet amount, so you could actually double down for less if you wanted.
That's a bad move though. Remember that you do give up something for being allowed to increase your bet: the ability to draw more than one additional card.
If the correct play is to double down, you should always double for the full amount if possible. And just when should you double down, you ask?
For that information, just use our Blackjack Basic Strategy Engine. When you are dealt a pair of cards of the same rank, you are allowed to split the pair into two separate hands and play them independently.
Let's say you are dealt a pair of eights for a total of sixteen. Sixteen is the worst possible player hand, since it is unlikely to win as is, but is very likely to bust if you draw to it.
Here's a great chance to improve a bad situation. If you are playing a hand-held game, toss the cards face-up in front of your bet just like a double down.
Then, in either type of game, place a matching bet beside the original bet in the circle. Note that you must bet the same amount on a split, unlike a double-down where you are allowed to double for less.
The dealer will separate the two cards, and treat them as two independent hands. He will deal a second card on the first eight, and you will play that two-card hand to completion.
Many casinos will let you double-down on that two-card hand if you want. No matter what happens on your first hand, when you are done with it the dealer will deal a second card to your next hand and the process starts all over.
If you get additional pairs in the first two cards of a hand, most casinos will allow you to resplit, making yet another hand. Typically a player is allowed to split up to 3 times, making 4 separate hands, with 4 separate bets.
If double after split is allowed, you could have up to 8 times your initial bet on the table! Note that you are allowed to split any valued cards, so you could split a Jack, Queen hand.
However, this is usually a bad play. Keep the You will make more money on the pat 20 than you will trying to make two good hands from it.
Not convinced? Another oddity comes when splitting Aces. Splitting Aces is a very strong player move so the casino limits you to drawing only one additional card on each Ace.
Also, if you draw a ten-valued card on one of your split Aces, the hand is not considered a Blackjack, but is instead treated as a normal 21, and therefore does not collect a payoff.
With all these limitations, you may wonder whether it makes sense to split Aces. The answer is a resounding YES.
Always split Aces. For accurate advice on what other pairs you should split, consult the Blackjack Basic Strategy Engine. If you want to win at Blackjack, you will eventually need to learn basic strategy from a basic strategy chart or play the interactive strategy trainer.
However, there are some quick rules and tips that you can learn as a beginner to decrease the house edge and formulate a strategy.
Remember there are more 10 value cards 10, J, Q, K than any other cards in the deck—so when a 10 will get you close to 21 and you are against a card that is bad for the dealer, you should double.
A player 9, 10, or 11 would always be a good double when a dealer is showing a 3, 4, 5, or 6. This is because the 3, 4, 5, and 6 are starting cards that are more likely to make a dealer bust.
The Ace is such a powerful card because pulling a 10 on a split will give you a Even though a 21 gained through a split is still only paid , it is a very advantageous situation.
Two fives total 10—which is a hand much better suited for doubling. Insurance in blackjack is often misunderstood by players, and is a big money-maker for casinos.
Naming this side-bet "insurance" was a brilliant marketing ploy, and some otherwise solid players will frequently make this bad bet to "insure" when they have a good hand.
But actually, insurance is not always a bad bet. For players who can recognize when the remaining deck is rich in ten-valued cards, this can actually be a profitable side-bet.
Insurance is a proposition bet that is available only when the dealer's upcard is an Ace. When the dealer turns up an Ace, he will offer "Insurance" to the players.
Insurance bets can be made by betting up to half your original bet amount in the insurance betting stripe in front of your bet.
The dealer will check to see if he has a value card underneath his Ace, and if he does have Blackjack, your winning Insurance bet will be paid at odds of You will still lose your original bet unless you also have a Blackjack , so the net effect is that you break even assuming you bet the full half bet for insurance.
This is why the bet is described as "insurance", since it seems to protect your original bet against a dealer blackjack.
Of course, if the dealer does not have blackjack, you'll lose the insurance bet, and still have to play the original bet out.
Insurance is simply a side-bet offering odds that the dealer has a valued card underneath their Ace. Not surprisingly, the casino has a substantial edge on this bet.
In a single deck game, there are 16 ten-valued cards. Assuming that you don't see any other cards, including your own, the tens compose 16 out of 51 remaining cards after the dealer's Ace was removed.
That creates a 5. It's even worse in six decks with a 7. Card counters can still beat the insurance bet, by only making the bet when they know that more than one-third of the remaining cards are tens.
Unless you are card counter and know the deck is skewed sufficiently, just ignore the insurance bet.
It doesn't matter whether you have a good hand or a bad hand. If you have a blackjack when the dealer turns up an Ace, he is likely to offer you "even money" instead of the insurance bet.
If you accept, the dealer will pay you the amount of your original bet and discard your hand of blackjack, before he even checks under his Ace to see if he has a blackjack as well.
Many players think this sounds like a good deal, guaranteeing a profit even if the dealer has a blackjack. But that guaranteed profit comes at a price.
Let me show you how it works:. So, casinos allow you to eliminate the insurance bet altogether, and simply declare that you want "even money" for your blackjack when the dealer has an Ace showing.
The problem is that you are still making a bad bet on insurance, which costs you money. A player who does not count cards should simply never take the insurance bet, even the "even money" variety.
Some games offer the player a chance to fold their hand, and forfeit half of their bet. This surrender option must be done as the very first action the player takes on the hand.
In other words, you can't draw a card and then decide to bail out! Even when surrender is available, it is rarely used by players.
Often, the rules posted at the table won't mention it even if the casino allows it. And many players just don't like the idea of surrendering a hand.
But for a smart player, it is a useful option, and reduces the house advantage by about 0. When surrender is available, make sure you know the correct strategy for using it.
Most players who use the option surrender too many hands. If your game offers surrender, I recommend reading my complete explanation of blackjack surrender.
In the most common variety known as "late" surrender , a player cannot surrender until after the dealer has checked for blackjack.