In the game of blackjack (or”21”) you’re playing solely against the dealer. Between the two of you, whoever gets the closest to the value of twenty-one will win the hand. If the both of you tie, then it’s called a “push” and you just keep your bet. Face cards (Kings, Queens and Jacks) count as 10. Aces will count as either a one or an eleven. Originally, you’ll be dealt two cards and if you want more cards you’ll ask for a “hit”. If you go over the twenty-one limit, it’s called a “bust” – and you lose that hand. Easy, right? Actually, it is – but certain math and probability principles will apply. So you need to keep a few things in mind.
Interestingly enough, you can actually train for this game, like a professional athlete, and it won’t cost you a cent. There are a surprising number of free online blackjack games that you can practice. Our free gambling section is a good example and it has a very helpful training environment. Cool, huh? This will give you the opportunity to become comfortable with the game and test out your new strategies.
Most casinos will be more than willing to help you out. By this, I mean that the dealer will add up your cards for you and give some basic strategy hints. For assistance, just ask them “What does the book say about this?” Other, more experienced, players will usually offer some tips, as well. You can even find small laminated cards, at the casino gift shop, that will list every possible card combination in relation to the dealer’s hand.
Your playing strategy will revolve around the dealer’s “up card”. That’s the card that the dealer is showing. So here are a few tips:
- If the dealer’s up card is a four, five, or a six, then you should “stand” (don’t accept any more cards) if you have twelve or higher.
- If the dealer’s up card is a two or a three, then you should stand if you have thirteen or higher.
- If the dealer’s up card is a seven or above, then you should stand if you have seventeen or higher.
- In the event that the dealer has an Ace showing, you’ll be asked if you want “insurance”. This is a side bet to ensure that you won’t lose your money if the dealer has blackjack. This is a poor bet and you should decline.
If you’re dealt two of the same card, you have the option of splitting the two into separate hands. This will increase your bet and your chances of winning. But you need to remember this above all: You should always split aces and eights. Never split fours, fives, tens or face cards.
“Doubling Down” means that you double your bet before taking another card. You should do this if you’re dealt a ten or an eleven. There you have it. You’re now equipped with some basic strategies that just may tilt the odds in your favor.