For anyone looking for a game that is both simple and exciting, blackjack seems the natural choice. Also known as Pontoon or Vignt Un, this is a popular game at traditional casinos as well as at online casino sites. There are many versions of blackjack, although the basic game comprises of the same idea – for the player to reach as close to the number 21 as possible, without going over that amount.
Blackjack is played against the dealer and the other players at the table are of no importance to the outcome of the player’s hand. It is important to note that because of the differing rules and regulations between casinos, and the variants of the game of blackjack, players should take time to read the instructions of each game carefully before playing for real money.
How to Play Blackjack
Blackjack can be played with one, two, four, six or eight decks of cards.
Players need to get as close to the number 21 as possible, by beating the dealer’s hand and not going over this sum.
Bets are placed before the game begins.
The value of the dealt cards are added to reach 21 or nearest.
The skill of blackjack lies in the ability of the player to choose whether to be dealt another card to get nearer to 21, or to stand with what he has.
The suits in blackjack are of no consequence. Face cards (ie. King, Queen and Jack) have a value of 10, while the cards ranging from 2-10 have face value. Aces are either valued at 1 or 11, depending on the hands being played. A hand that does not have an Ace or where the Ace is counted as one is known as a hard hand, while a hand that consists of an Ace that counts as 11 is known as a soft hand.
The Beginnings of a Blackjack Game
Players begin a game of blackjack by finding a suitable table. Blackjack tables traditionally seat six people. Important things to look out for at a suitable blackjack table include minimum and maximum wagers, deck sizes and variant rules.
Bets are placed in a special area on the blackjack table.
Once the bets are placed, each player is dealt two cards and then the dealer takes two cards for himself. In most variants of blackjack, the player has one card facing up and one card facing down.
If a player believes that the dealer has been dealt a blackjack (21), he can take out an insurance bet at this point in the game. All bets will be cleared and the player will be paid out 2:1 if the dealer has been dealt a blackjack. If not, the player loses the insurance bet.
In most cases, players are dealt cards face up and should thus not handle the cards.
Once players see their two cards, they are faced with the decision of how to proceed in the game. Herein lies the skill element of blackjack: To take more cards to reach the number 21 and risk going ‘bust’ (ie. going over that sum) or to stay with what they have been dealt and hope to win with that amount.
The Options Available to Blackjack Players
The following are the choices available to blackjack players at this stage of the game:
Players can Choose to ‘Hit’: This is when players choose to ask the dealer for another card as they think they can advance further towards 21 without going bust. This is obviously a risk but most players understand the calculated risks within a game of blackjack, based on strategies and statistics. Of course, if a player goes over 21 after being hit, he goes bust.
Players can Choose to ‘Stand’: When a player is happy with the cards that have been dealt and does not wish to risk being dealt any more cards, he can choose to stand. This means that these are the player’s final cards in the game.
Players can Choose to ‘ Split Pairs’: If players are dealt a pair in the first round, these can be split into two separate hands and another bet, equal to the first, is placed. While various rules pertain to different versions of blackjack, the basic understanding is that hands can only be split once and that only cards of the same denomination can be split (ie. not a queen and a 10, for example).
Players can Choose to ‘Double Down’: If players are in a strong position in the game, they can opt to double their original bet. In return for this right, players are only entitled to one more card. Casinos have varying rules on the doubling down choice.