Blackjack Basics

Your goal as a blackjack player is to beat the dealer. The closer your cards come to a total value of 21, the easier it is to beat the dealer! A hand worth 12 can also beat the dealer should the dealer bust, therefore, a blackjack player’s goal is not to come as close to 21 without going over, it’s to calculate the odds and win the hand.

Every blackjack game begins the same way. You are dealt two cards, and the dealer also deals himself two cards. While you see both of your cards, you can only see one of the dealer’s cards, as one is dealt faced-down. The dealer’s faced-down card is known as the dealer’s “hole card”.

Once the hands are dealt, strategy comes into play. The player’s options are to hit, stand, split or double down. Hit means to be dealt another card. Stand means to hold at the present hand value – turning the game over to the dealer.

Splitting a hand: Splitting is when the player takes his initial two cards and “splits” them into two hands, thus doubling the bet and the potential winnings. Splitting is always done with two 8’s or aces. The reason to always split a pair of 8’s is this: A pair of eights gives you a hand value of 16 – when split, each 8 has good odds of landing a card with a value of 10, thus making that hand worth 18. Splitting Aces is an obvious choice, since landing a 21 hand is very desirable.

Doubling Down: When a player chooses to double down, he/she doubles the size of the bet for that hand. The decision whether or not to double down is based on the cards the player is holding, and the up-card the dealer shows. If the player has a hand total of 9, 10 or 11, he should double down, in most cases.

Blackjack Rules

The object of the game of Blackjack is to take cards from the dealer so that their value adds up to 21 or less. Aces are worth 1 or 11, whichever is better for you, face cards are worth 10 (Jacks, Queens, and Kings) and the other cards are worth their number value.
Your first step is to place a beat or a wager. To win you need to beat the dealer without breaking 21, or busting as it is called. If your cards total more than 21 you busted. The dealer also has to take cards and if the dealer busts you automatically win.

The dealer will deal two cards face down, or face up in best online Blackjack, and will deal itself one card face down and one card face up. You will have the opportunity to take more cards to reach 21 or to stay with the cards you have. You can take as many cards as you want without going over 21 and stay at any time. Once you stay the dealer will deal cards to itself until it reaches a value of 17 or over.

Really the object of the game is to come closer to 21 than the dealer without busting or breaking.

If you make 21 with the first two cards (a ten, a face card and an Ace) you have achieved Blackjack. If the dealer does not get Blackjack you automatically win and receive one and one half times the amount of your wager.

Here are things every player should know about blackjack. It is helpful to read if you are already familiar with basic blackjack strategies such as splitting and doubling down.

Blackjack Dealers bust

Dealer busing is the essence of blackjack strategy. The moves you make: ie whether to hit or hold, are all based on the probability of the dealer busting, taking into consideration the upcards the blackjack dealer has. For example, when the dealer is showing low cards, such as 4, 5, or 6, they have the greatest probability of a bust. With such “bust cards” showing, the player assumes that the down card has a value of 10 and the dealer must take another card. Furthermore, the card the dealer draws has a good probability of being of either busting the hand, or leaving the dealer in another draw situation.

Therefore, if the deal’s up cards are the “dealer bust cards” outlined above (4, 5 or 6), the blackjack player may want to spit or double down, even with cards they normally wouldn’t split or double down.

Splitting a pair in Blackjack

The basic rule of splitting in blackjack is this: Always split 8’s and aces.
The strategy behind slitting 8’s is the high probability of getting two hands worth 18, which is a much better bet than the two 8’s worth 16 originally dealt to you.
Splitting Aces is an obvious choice: The odds of getting at least one hand worth 21 is high – and the odds of getting two hands worth 21 isn’t so bad, either.

Doubling down in blackjack

when your initial card is looking pretty good to you – ie, you have a card whose value is 9, 10 or 11, doubling down (doubling the size of your bet) is the path to take. If the dealer is showing a “dealer busting card”, it’s a no brainer. If not, the player should double down at his/her discretion.

Blackjack Charts

Basic Blackjack strategy starts with an assessment of the dealer’s upcard. If the dealer has a high card, then you should take more chances to reach. if the dealer has a low card showing, you should not take chances to reach 21. In other words, if the dealer is showing a low card you will stay earlier then if a high card is showing. The reason for this is that, with a low card to start with, the dealer has a much greater chance of busting.

One thing that is usually not recommended is insurance. This is a side bet that the dealer will make 21 Blackjack. the casino will offer you insurance if the dealer’s upcard is an Ace.

Following a basic strategy won’t guarantee that you win every hand, or even come out ahead each time you sit down for a game of blackjack. Having a solid blackjack strategy will definitely lower the house edge, but it will not eliminate it.

BlackJack Chart – Hard Totals:

Dealer’s Upcard
Your Cards 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A
17 S S S S S S S S S S
16 S S S S S H H H H H
15 S S S S S H H H H H
14 S S S S S H H H H H
13 S S S S S H H H H H
12 H H S S S H H H H H
11 D D D D D D D D D H
10 D D D D D D D D H H
9 H D D D D H H H H H
8 H H H H H H H H H H

BlackJack Chart – Soft Totals:

Dealer’s Upcard
Your Cards 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A
(A,9) S S S S S S S S S S
(A,8) S S S S S S S S S S
(A,7) S D D D D S S H H H
(A,6) H D D D D H H H H H
(A,5) H H D D D H H H H H
(A,4) H H D D D H H H H H
(A,3) H H H D D H H H H H
(A,2) H H H D D H H H H H

BlackJack Chart – Pairs: Split or Not

(y)=Split :: (N)=Not

Dealer’s Upcard
Your Cards 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A
(A,A) Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
(10,10) N N N N N N N N N N
(9,9) Y Y Y Y Y N Y Y Y Y
(8,8) Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
(7,7) Y Y Y Y Y Y N N N N
(6,6) Y Y Y Y Y N N N N N
(5,5) N N N N N N N N N N
(4,4) N N N Y Y N N N N N
(3,3) Y Y Y Y Y Y N N N N
(2,2) Y Y Y Y Y Y N N N N

Glossary of Blackjack Terms

Full list here.
Blackjack – If the first two cards are an ace and a 10 or a face card the player has Blackjack. This cannot be beaten by the dealer only tied for a push.

Hit – this is when the player takes another card from the dealer. The player takes another card if it is needed to reach 21.

Stand – this is when the player decides not to take a card or to take any more cards and ends his/her turn.

Double Down – a player is allowed to double his or her bet after receiving the first two cards. The player can take only one more card from the dealer to improve his/her hand.

Splitting Pairs – If the first two cards dealt to the player are a pair, the player may split them into two separate hands. The same amount as the original bet is wagered on each hand and the hands are played separately. For aces the player can only receive one additional card per hand.

Insurance – a player can buy insurance is the dealer’s up card is an ace. Insurance is a side bet that the dealer will get Blackjack and is only paid if the dealer gets Blackjack.

Hard hand – this is a hand without an Ace, or an Ace that can only be valued at one.

Soft hand – this is a hand with an Ace that is counted as 11.

Hole card – the card dealt face down to the dealer.

Stiff hand – a hand through 12 to sixteen.

Soft hand – valuable in that the Ace can be counted as one or 11. You can take more cards from the dealer in an attempt to improve your hand to a higher value.

Blackjack Systems and Card Counting. The Hi-Low System.

Card counting is a playing technique that works favorably for most card games, and is not exactly loved by the casinos. Card counting is partially responsible for making Blackjack the popular casino game that it is today, as more players enjoyed success at the Blackjack tables.

The theory behind card counting is that, by using a consistent system to predict which cards are likely to be in the shoe, a player knows if the deck is in favorable or unfavorable position for the player during the game, and bet accordingly. Unfortunately, card counting will not work for online Blackjack games, since the deck is reshuffled after each hand.

Card Counting was originally developed by Edward O. Thorp, a Mathematics Professor at New Mexico State University. In 1962 Thorp published “Beat the Dealer”, which made its way to the New York Times bestseller list in 1963.

One popular card counting system is the “High-Low” system. This system keeps track of the availability of low cards (value 2 to 8) versus high cards (9 through Aces). A shortage of high cards the deck is unfavorable. The player keeps track of what cards are played and, if there are many high cards remaining (favorable), he/she will increase the size of the bets.

To keep track of the “value” of the remaining cards in the deck, the player assigns values to the cards as they are played. A low card counts as +1, and high card as -1, and middling cards (7 – 9) are not counted at all.