All casino games have some special terms and blackjack is no different. When playing a game for the first time it’s important to learn all the terminology as well as the rules. Specialist terms in blackjack such as hit, split and bust as well as push are all important blackjack terms.
Usually to win at blackjack you need to get a higher score than the dealer. If you have the same score as the dealer, that is known as a push. Usually a push means you get your stake back, but check the rules as terms vary between casinos.
How to Play Blackjack
The aim of blackjack, also known as 21, is to reach a score as close to 21 as possible. Before play begins, players place their bets. At the start of the game, the dealer deals 2 cards to each player. Depending on the value of the cards, players can choose from a number of play options.
- Hit — Take another card.
- Stand — Take no more cards and hope the total is enough to win.
- Double Down — Add an additional bet to equal the initial bet and take one more card.
- Split — A pair of cards of the same value can be split to form 2 hands.
Some casinos also offer the option to surrender at the first play and return half the stake to players who surrender.
Players take it in turns to play. If a player draws a card that takes the value of their hand over 21 points, then they are ‘bust’ and lose their stake. The dealer is the last to play their hand. If the dealer goes bust, all the players who are still in the game win. Otherwise, any player with a higher score than the dealer wins. If a player has the same score as the dealer, that is a push and the stake is returned to the player.
When counting the number of points in the hand the following values apply.
- Ace — Either 1 point or 11 points depending on the value of the hand.
- Face cards — Kings, Queens and Jacks are worth 10 points.
- Number cards — Number cards from 2-10 count as their face value.
Once you total up the value of the first two cards you need to consider the likelihood of going bust on the next hit.
How to Win at Blackjack
While the cards you get are the luck of the draw, it is possible to develop a winning strategy playing blackjack. Because one of the dealer’s cards is placed face up, players have a clue as to how to bet. It’s also worth remembering that more than 30% of the cards in the deck have a value of 10, so this is by far the most likely value to draw. The worst hands are 15 or 16 points and, if the dealer’s upturned card is a good one, it’s worth considering surrendering with this score.
Should you split a pair?
While you can choose to split a pair, that isn’t always the best strategy. A pair of 10s for example is a very good hand with a score of 20, so shouldn’t ever be split. A hand with an ace in it offers special flexibility, as the ace can count as either 1 or 11 points. This enables the player to make moves which would be too risky with another card combination. The ace always starts counting as 11 points, but if you draw a card that takes the hand over 21 points, it changes to 1 point. A pair of aces is a great hand and can be split to give an even greater chance of scoring 21.
What is the house edge in blackjack?
The house edge, the in-built advantage of the casino, is very low in the standard version of blackjack. Most casinos make a 2% house edge, but if you know your blackjack strategy, the house edge can be as low as 0.5%.
Where can I play blackjack?
Almost every online casino offers blackjack. There are two types of blackjack casino games on offer. Live blackjack offers a video streamed game with a real dealer and other remote players. Another type of online blackjack is the electronic table game which has no human input.
Do all casinos have the same rules?
No. You need to check out the exact rules at each different casino. In some casinos the push is treated as a loss, so be careful when choosing a site to bet at.