Getting Started Playing Blackjack

by Enrico
Updated The Fabulous Blackjack Strategy Guides

Blackjack is one of the most popular games in the many, many casinos of the world, and definitely the game that has the highest chance of winning for a player. Many also argue that it’s the easiest gambling game to understand overall, something we in many ways feel is an accurate statement.

Blackjack is a game that originated in France, it is called vingt-et-un in French, which basically means twenty and one – 21. Due to the ease and fun of playing, it didn’t take long to become a popular nationwide game. Let’s look at some basic rules and some essential terminologies before revealing the winning tips that are going to make you a much better player at the tables.

The basic rules of Blackjack

Let’s start with the blackjack basics, shall we? Here is how it’s played, basically, by using the fifty-two cards from the deck, each player at the table gets a pair of cards, with the goal to reach 21. If the number exceeds 21, it’s a bust, meaning you can kiss your money goodbye. As the game progresses, players can request more cards, but with that comes additional risk.

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Looking at the numbers

Each card has a points value in the game of blackjack, the cards from 2 to 10 have the same number exactly as shown on the cards; the cards of J, Q and K have 10-point value; there are two ways to count A, 1 or 11, if A is counted as 11 and the total sum is greater than 21, then A is counted as 1 point.

For example (A, 8) is 19 points, (A, 7, J) is 18 points. The card values in blackjack are generally self-explanatory, just with a few nuisances here and there.

Must-know blackjack terminology

The rules sound really easy, right? That’s because they are. If you can count to 21 you can play the game. But there are some specific terminologies you need to know by heart, as it’ll help you massively when in the heat of play.

  • Blackjack -The total points of a hand equals to 21, then you have blackjack.
  • Hit – Take another card. Players can ask for cards as long as the total number of cards in their hands is less than 21 points. According to the rules, the dealer may be forced to take a card or choose to take a card.
  • Stand – Stop taking and refusing more cards. In any case, players can choose to stop asking for cards at any time.
  • Split – Players place another bet equal to the original bet and divide the first two cards into two separate hands. The points of these two cards must be the same (that is, a pair of 8s, a pair of Ks, or a pair of Qs for example). In some games, two cards with 10 points, such as a 10 and a Q, can also be divided, although casinos allowing this is a rare sight. However, blackjack after the general split can only be calculated as ordinary blackjack, and its odds are only paid 1 to 1. After the cards are divided, makeup 2 cards in turn and calculate them according to the original rules.
  • Double – After the player gets the first two cards, he can place another bet equal to the original bet (double if he feels less), and then only get one more card. If you get blackjack, you are not allowed to double bet. In some games, you can also choose to double bet if you get 3 or more cards, but you can only get one more card; in some games, you can still double bet after dividing the card.
  • Insurance – If the dealer’s face-up card is an A, players can buy insurance, which is an extra bet equal to half of the original bet. If the player is sure that the dealer’s next card is a 10-point card, he can buy insurance. If the dealer does have a blackjack, the player will win 2 times the insurance bet; if the dealer does not have blackjack, the player will lose the insurance bet and the game continues as usual. Blackjack is bigger than other cards with a total of 21 points. In some games, insurance is not allowed, so check the game rules prior to play.
  • Surrender – If a player only has two cards in his hand, he has the right to surrender and return half of the bet. Applicable only when the dealer’s reversed card is not an A, but surrender is not allowed in some games, with it actually being a rare act from a player.
  • Win – Players will be considered as winning if their cards are blackjack (if the dealer does not get blackjack at the same time), or if a player’s points are closer to 21 points (but not more than the dealer’s total), or the dealer’s total exceed 21 points (the player no more than 21 points).
  • Push – That is, when the player has the same number of points as the dealer, or both have blackjack, there is no win or loss and the bet amount will be returned to the player.
  • Lose – The dealer has blackjack (but the player does not get blackjack at the same time), the dealer’s hand is closer to 21 than the player’s (but not more than 21), and the player’s points have exceeded 21 (regardless of whether the dealer’s points exceed 21).
  • Odds – Blackjack loses 2 to 1 or 1.5 to 1; insurance loses 2 to 1; others lose 1 to 1.

Winning tips that work

Now, after you have learned the essential terminologies, we can move on to the most interesting part of this article – how to win at blackjack just by using a bit of extra brainpower. Every casino game needs some kind of strategy to win, that much is obvious, as you need to have your strategies ready by the time you sit at the blackjack table.

First and foremost, set a betting budget to limit each wager and follow it very strictly. Start with never taking a credit card to a casino, as this is the ultimate budget buster. Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose, it’s just the luck of the day. You have to set a limit not only for losses but also for winning. No matter if we lose or win several times in a row, you need to have a loss prevention measure by presetting the budget. It might seem like an obvious thing to do, but you would be surprised at the number of gamblers that avoid the subject of “budgets” entirely.

Secondly, get to know the rules of the table and any specific exceptions beforehand. Like when we talked about the terminologies, different rules are applied at different blackjack tables. How the points are counted and how to beat the dealer, for example, can change from casino to casino, with many establishments not afraid to mix up the rules slightly to catch players out. On top of that, if you are a relatively new player, choose to start with the lowest limit table. If you are not sure about your skills and knowledge, you can always watch several rounds play out prior to starting yourself.

Let it be known that there are people who are really good at blackjack and have the natural skills to pay the bills in this famous game. We strongly recommend you to watch the masters play frequently and try to grasp some tips from them. Learn when to hit, when to stand, when to split, when to double. These pros are fountains of knowledge and by learning from them you are almost certain to become a better blackjack player.

Let the tips roll on, although now we need to delve a little more into the finer details of the game. There are a series of points related playing strategies for you to remember:

  • If the dealer’s hand is 6 or less, you must stand when you get 13 to 16.
  • If the dealer’s hand is 4 or 5, you should understand that 12 are enough.
  • If the dealer’s hand is 10, you should keep hitting until you get 17 or better.
  • When you get 17 or more, you must stand. Your low rate of not busting is worth the risk. Or, when you get A-8 or A-9, you must hold back.
  • When you get any two combinations of 10, J, Q, and K, never split, because 20 will almost certainly win out over whatever the dealer has.
  • When you get two Aces, look to split. Two As are equal to 2 or 22, so they must be separated. Unless the dealer also gets an A, then you might need to rethink your approach.
  • Never split a pair of 5s. Two 5s equals 10, and adding 10, J, Q, or K means you are likely heading towards a win. If you make it to A, congratulations on hitting 21 o’clock as it were.

Take it to the blackjack tables!

Blackjack is and always will be one of those games that commands attention at a casino. The famous stories and Hollywood movies have made it a game that simply can’t be ignored. While the buzz and fuss that surrounds blackjack make it an exciting game to play, it can also prove to be a cruel mistress if you play the game poorly. Blackjack has punished many players that haven’t approached the game in the right way.

Our job has been to give you the blackjack education you need. While we don’t have the time to go into the extreme details here, as long as you remember the above rules and tips, your chances of winning big will naturally be higher!

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