When you get an Ace and a ten-value card, it’s an automatic 21, called a blackjack. That hand beats all other hands except for another blackjack. So if you have a blackjack, and the dealer has 3 cards that add up to 21, you still win.
Before the cards are dealt, each player must put up a bet. Bets usually start at $5 minimum and range as high as $1,000 at some live casinos. At online casinos you can find games with $1 minimum bets, allowing you to play and sharpen your blackjack skills without much risk. To make a bet, simply place your wager (chips) in the appropriate box or circle on the table.
After placing a bet, you are dealt two cards face up. The dealer also gets two cards, but only one of the dealer's cards is face up. You are then given the option of standing with the cards you have or you may take another card, called hitting.
You may hit as often as you wish but if you go over 21, you bust, and the dealer wins automatically. The dealer will not take any cards until all players at the table have made their choices. The dealer's biggest advantage is here. Any players that bust lose their bet even if the dealer also goes bust.
Now the dealer shows his face down card. If his hand totals 17 or higher he must stand – he is not allowed to take additional cards. But if the dealer’s hand is 16 or under he must hit until the count is 17 or higher. If the exceeds 21 while taking additional cards, the dealers busts and loses.
The payoff if you win is even money (1 to 1). If you get a blackjack you are paid 1 ½ times your wager (bet 2 win 3). If the dealer gets blackjack at the same time, it’s a tie and you don’t win or lose.
Those are the primary rules. Pretty simple and straight-forward, right? However, there are a few more things you need to know about.
Now that you know how the game is played, here’s your best blackjack strategy for winning as determined by computer testing. Always hit (take more cards) when you have 11 or less. Always stand when you have 17 or more. When the dealer's up card is from a 7 to an Ace, hit if your count is between 12 and 16, stand if the dealer shows a 2 to 6.
In most casinos, you may double down (double your bet) after your first two cards. However, there is one condition. When you double down, you can take only one more card. You can not receive any more cards after this. A good blackjack player will always double if the two dealt cards add up to 11, except when the dealer has a 10 or Ace.
Another blackjack strategy play is the splitting of pairs. If your first two cards of the deal are the same value, you may split the cards and play two hands by placing a bet of the same value as your original bet on the second hand. So if you split a pair of 8’s you create two separate hands, each with a value of 8. Then you proceed to play out each of the hands independently. Blackjack strategy says always split Ace-Ace and 8-8. Never split 10-10, 5-5 or 4-4.
You may buy insurance when the dealer’s up card is an Ace because there is the possibility that the dealer has a blackjack and you automatically lose, unless you also have a blackjack, in which case it’s a tie. After all players and the dealer have 2 cards each, he will ask "insurance?" The insurance "premium" is 1/2 of your original bet. Payment is 2 to 1 if the dealer does indeed have a blackjack hand. Insurance bets favor the house and should generally be avoided. Good Blackjack strategy players don’t take insurance.
Before you play online or consider flying to Las Vegas, be sure to memorize these six most important basic blackjack strategy rules:
1) Stand if you hold 12 to 16 and the dealers up card is 2 to 6.
2) Hit if you hold 12 to 16 and the dealer shows a 7 or higher.
3) Stand if your count is between 17 and 21.
4) Always split pairs of 8’s and Aces.
5) Never split 10’s, 5’s or 4’s
6) Double down on 11, unless the dealer shows a 10 or Ace.
Risk your own money cautiously, but take the double or nothing approach with your winnings. Let’s assume you have a $100 stake and the minimum bet is $5. Wager $5, if you win make your next bet $10, if it wins bet $20, win again bet $40. You might be reluctant to risk $40 in one whack, but look at it this way: If you lose the gamble has only cost you $5 of your own money - but if you win you’ll collect $80! Streaks of four winning hands in a row are not uncommon. Take a chance, but always play proper blackjack strategy. A $100 stake at $5 a hand gives you 20 chances to try this system. If Lady Luck is by your side and you get four winning hands in a row, don’t get greedy. Go back and start with a $5 bet, trying to repeat the process. Watch your chips closely, if you don’t get another lucky run in short order, stop playing while you’re ahead. You’ll feel much better if you managed to quit a winner.
Enjoy playing good blackjack strategy and Good Luck.
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