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Rules of blackjack

Blackjack is one of the most fast-paced and fascinating card games. It dates from prerevolutionary France, an epoch in which it was still called Twenty-one. Throughout the years, many Blackjack strategies have been developed. They allow the player to benefit from a weakened house advantage and sometimes even a payout rate that is in the players’ favor instead of the house’s.

Materials

Originally, Blackjack was played with a single deck of 52 cards. With the proliferation of card counting systems, casinos now use between three and eight decks. When there is only the equivalent of one deck remaining in the shoe, it is shuffled together with the discard tray.

The aim of the game

Around a Blackjack table, several players face off against a dealer. Their goal is to form a hand whose value comes close to or equals 21, without surpassing it. To win, they must form a hand whose value is superior to that of the dealer’s hand. If a player surpasses 21, he busts or breaks and so loses his initial bet.

A card’s value

To determine the value of a hand, simply add the values of each of the cards within the hand. Cards from 2 to 10 are counted at face value. An Ace counts as 1 or 11, depending on the preference of the player. Face cards – that is Jack, Queen, and King – are valued at 10.

Obtaining a Blackjack

There are several different possibilities for forming a Blackjack. This hand can be formed with an Ace and any ten value card. If a hand is worth 21, but it is made up of three cards or more, it is not considered a Blackjack. A Blackjack is the best combination possible and generally pays one and a half times the original bet.

How the game plays out

The first thing to be done in a game of Blackjack is to place your chips. Next, the dealer distributes a face-up card to each participant, himself included. He then draws a second face-up card for each player and a face-down card for himself. It is then the players’ turn to speak. One after another, from right to left, they can draw (Hit) one or several cards. If a participant surpasses 21, he loses his chips. Players can also pass (Stand). In both of these cases, the dealer passes on to the following player.

Once all the players are served, the dealer plays according to a set of codified rules. He automatically deals himself a card, as long as he has not yet reached a minimum of 17. If he receives a total value higher than 21, all the players win. If not, every hand must be examined to determine who among the players or the house has won the game. If a player is tied with the dealer, he keeps his bet but does not win anything.

When the participants have their first two cards, there are two additional possibilities for the game in very specific circumstances.

If the dealer’s first card is an Ace, you can take out Insurance against the dealer’s potential Blackjack by doubling your bet. If the dealer does form a Blackjack, you lose your bet, but receive your insurance payment. On the other hand, if the dealer does not form a Blackjack, the insurance is lost and the game continues normally.

If you have a pair, you can separate it (Split) into two distinct hands. To do this, you must double your bet.