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28 March 2009

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What is Blackjack?
Players are dealt cards where the closest value to 21 (between the player and the dealer) wins. Cards of rank 2 through 10 are scored according to their face value; all picture cards score 10 points. Aces score either 1 or 11 points. The highest hand in blackjack is an ace and any 10-point card and is called a blackjack.

If both player and dealer have a blackjack it is called a ‘push’. Similar to a ‘let’ in tennis, the hands are played again. Neither player or dealer wins. If either the player or dealer go over 21 it is called ‘bust’ which is an instant loss. If both the player and the dealer bust the player loses, this is where the house has an advantage.

How is it played?
Blackjack starts with a round of betting. The dealer will then deal 2 cards to every player. Players’ cards are usually dealt face down with the dealer’s cards having one face up and one face down. If the dealer has a ten or an ace as the face up card it is possible he has a blackjack, in which case all player hands will lose except those with blackjack also. In the event the dealer has an ace as the up card he will allow the players to insure their hands against a blackjack.

The insurance bet in blackjack pays 2:1 if the dealer has a blackjack. After all players have had a chance to accept or decline insurance the dealer will check the hole card.
After it has been established that the dealer does not have a blackjack play continues where each player has the choice of the following options:

If the player is satisfied he/she can stand; this is to signify that no more cards are wanted (the player will be as close to 21 as they want to get). In a single deck game, cards are placed face down under the bet.

If the player wants to hit; this is to signify that he/she wishes to take another card; (to get closer to the value of 21). In a single deck game a player would scrape their cards lightly against the felt.

If the player feels he/she needs only one more card then he/she may double the bet and be dealt one more card. This option is only offered on the first two cards, or on the first two cards after a split. To signify you wish to double, place another wager next to your original wager of equal value.

If the player's first two cards are of equal point value he/she may split them into two hands. In this event each card is the first card of a new hand. The player must also make another wager, of equal value to the first wager, for the second hand. Splitting after splitting is sometimes allowed although doubling after splitting is not.

Some casinos offer the player the option to surrender on the first two cards. The player can forfeit their cards and lose half of their bet if they feel their cards will not win them anything.

After all players have played their hands, from the dealer's left to right, the dealer will play his hand. The dealer must always play by certain house rules; this is usually that the dealer must hit until he/she reaches a score of 17 or more. Some casinos say that if the dealer has a soft 17 (an ace and any number of cards totaling 6) he/she must also hit. If the dealer busts, all players that did not bust automatically win.

For more information and tips see our Blackjack Strategy Page.

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