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Blackjack

Introduction

Blackjack is a game played against the dealer. All face cards (kings, queens, jacks) count as 10, Aces count as 11 or 1, all other cards represent their face value.

The object of the game is to get closer to 21 than the dealer, without going over 21.

  • If you are closer to 21 than the dealer, or the dealer goes over 21 (bust) you win.
  • If the dealer is closer to 21 than you or you bust, you lose.
  • If your hands are the same value, your stake money is returned, this is know as a ‘push’.

Once you have decided on the size of your stake, the game begins with all the players and the dealer being dealt two cards (the dealer with one face down). The value of your hand is the total value of your cards. For example, if you are dealt a jack and a 4 your hand is fourteen. Aces count as one or eleven, you don’t have to choose, it will automatically be the one which gives you the best hand.

You then have the choice of whether to stand, hit, split, or double. You may also be offered the choice of ‘insurance’

Actions

Stand

To ‘stand’ means you do not want another card and the cards you’ve been dealt will be your total. If you are dealt 21 from you first two cards (i.e. an ace and a 10) you will automatically stand. Being dealt 21 is called ‘a blackjack’.

Hit

You ask to be dealt another card. You can then chose to hit again or stand. You can continue to take cards as many times as you like but if your total goes over 21 you are bust and lose the hand.

Split

If you are dealt two cards of the same value (e.g. a pair of 8s) you can choose to split. The exact rules on which cards can be split will vary slightly according to the casino and the variety of blackjack you are playing.

If you choose to split, the two cards will be played as separate hands. For example instead of a pair of 8s giving you a hand of 16, you will have two separate hands each with the value of 8. You will have to duplicate your initial bet for the second hand if you want to split.

You then play these hands as you would play a normal individual hand. The only exception to this is when splitting Aces. After splitting aces you only receive one more card per hand.

Whether you can split a split hand or whether you are allowed to double after a split will vary depending on the variety of blackjack and at what casino you are playing.

Double

To double means your initial bet is doubled and you will receive one more card. You must stand after this card is dealt.

Insurance

If the dealer is showing an ace (i.e. his face up card is an ace) you have the choice of taking ‘insurance’ against the dealer having a blackjack (i.e. his other card being a 10). By choosing to take insurance, you place a bet of half your original stake that the dealer’s other card is a 10.

If the dealer does have a blackjack, you get paid 2-1 on your insurance bet but your original stake is lost (unless you have also been dealt blackjack, in which case it is a ‘push’ and the stake is returned).

If the dealer has not been dealt a blackjack, the insurance bet is lost, and the hand played as normal.

Surrender

This option is not always available. However, if it is available and you don't like your initial two cards (in comparison to the dealers face up card) you can quit the hand and take back half your bet.


Continuing Play

Once you have completed your actions, the dealer will turn over their face down card. The dealer has to stand on 17 or above and has to draw on lower than 17. They will continue to take another card until their total is 17 or above or until they bust.

At this point, if neither the dealer nor you have bust, whoever has the total closest to 17 wins the hand.

A winning hand is paid at even money (e.g. A stake of £10 on a winning hand returns £20). A blackjack is paid 3-2 (e.g. A £10 stake on a blackjack returns £25).

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Strategy

The following table is a detailed guide to what you should do in every possible circumstance, when playing blackjack. Feel free to save it or print it out for future reference.

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