Blackjack for Beginners
Blackjack, the most popular of all table games, was introduced to the world in the 17th century and has remained a staple of casinos - physical and virtual – ever since. Combining luck with skill, Blackjack not only offers great odds for players with a basic understanding of the game, but also guarantees plenty of thrilling play.
Also known as ‘twenty one’, Blackjack is played by up to 8 players all simultaneously competing against the dealer. The objective of the game is to get a combination of cards as close as possible to 21 without going over, and beating the dealer’s hand.
While it is a relatively simple game to learn to play on a basic level, there are many intricacies to Blackjack that a player should learn if he is to maximize his odds of beating the house and leaving the table with some hard earned winnings. In order to help out first time players or those looking for a refresher course, h ere at VikingSlots we have put together the most complete Blackjack beginner’s guide you will find, with the intention of making you feel like a seasoned pro before you hit our tables!
VikingSlots offers two different ways of playing blackjack: Our classic online blackjack tables, in which you play against the house at your own pace in our random, provably fair casino, and our live casino blackjack, where real human croupiers will deal the cards from our live studios as players from across the globe join you at the table. So whether you like playing by yourself or getting a realistic casino experience on our live casino, you’ll find the perfect option for you!
The game of Blackjack consists of drawing a hand whose added value is closer to 21 than the dealer’s, without going over. If your hand is better than the dealer’s or the dealer goes over 21 you win the hand, receiving back 2x your initial bet.
At the beginning of each hand you will receive two cards, the added value of which will create your hand total. Once the action is on you, you can choose to stand with your current hand total or try to improve your hand by hitting - requesting an additional card. You can hit as many times as you wish, however if your hand total goes over 21 your hand will bust, and you will lose your initial bet.
When your initial two hand card value equals 21, you will have a Blackjack. Blackjacks are automatic wins and will pay out your bet at 3 to 2 odds. However, if the dealer hits a Blackjack as well, your hand will push and your bet will be returned to you. The dealer must stand on 17 or over and hit on 16 or under.
As shown in the picture below, a typical Blackjack table will possess the following features:
Chip Tray – Also known as the bank, this is where the house keeps its chips to collect and pay out chips.
Shoe – Every time the cards are shuffled they will be placed face down in an open box called a shoe. It is from here that cards will be dealt out throughout the game.
Discard Tray – After every hand, all discarded cards are placed in this tray until it’s time for a new shuffle.
Betting Squares – Each betting square represents a spot where a player can place his bet and receive a hand to play with.
First Base – The name ‘First Base’ is given to the first betting square to act in every hand.
Third Base – Likewise, the ‘Third Base’ will be the last betting square to act before the dealer.
Blackjack is played using one or multiple 52 card decks. Every card in the deck has a value that will be added to that of additional cards to attempt to get as close as possible to 21 without going over.
Cards from 2-10 represent their face value.
Jacks, Queens and Kings are all of a value of 10.
Aces are valued at 1 or 11.
Seeing how Aces can be counted either a 1 or an 11, hands containing aces will be classified as one of two different types:
Hard Hands –Hard hands are any hand consisting of two cards that does not include an ace. With hard hands, when you have cards with a value of 12 or more and you hit, you are at risk of going over 21 and busting.
Soft Hands – Soft hands are any two card combination that that include an ace. It is impossible for you to bust with the first hit on soft hands, since aces can be counted as a 1 or an 11, this gives you the opportunity of improving any weak hand without any risk of exceeding 21.
Types of Actions
Request an additional card to try and get your hand closer to 21.
Locks your hand as it is, and passes the action to the next player.
If you are feeling bold and think the dealer will go over or that the next card will get you the value you need to win, you can chose to double down. This option will double the size of your bet and you will be given one additional card, ending your turn.
If you receive a pair of cards of the same value (for example two 9s), you can choose to split the pair into two individual hands – each receiving and additional card. An additional bet will be placed for the second hand, and each of these hands will be played separately from each other.
If you feel like the odds are against you whether you hit or you stand, you can always choose to surrender your bet. By choosing this option your cards will be folded and you will receive half of your bet back.
If you visit any land based or online casino, you will quickly realize that Blackjack offers a great variety of different rule variations. Each of these variants will affect the way the game is played, just as they will also affect the odds and payouts. Therefore, it is important to know what the most common variations may be so that you can adapt your game accordingly:
Number of Decks: The number of decks usually varies between 1 and 8. The less decks in play, the lower the edge of the house will be.
Hit or Stand on Soft 17: When a dealer has a soft 17 (an Ace with an 8), some casinos will require the dealer to hit. Tables with this rule will have a larger house edge.
Surrender: Some casinos don’t offer the option to surrender. Others will allow either a late surrender (after the dealer checks for Blackjack) or an early surrender (before the dealer checks for Blackjack)
Double restrictions: While most casinos will allow you to doubles on any initial hand, some will only let you double on 9, 10 or 11.
Double after Split: Traditionally casinos will allow you to double your bet after a split. However, some variations will not allow this option.
Resplits: If after splitting you receive another pair, some casinos will allow you to resplit that hand another time. Others will not.
Resplit Aces: Some variations will allow you to resplit aces, other will not.
Hitting Split Aces: Most casinos will only allow you to draw one card after splitting aces. Other will be more generous and allow hitting another card.
Splitting Different Face Cards – While most variants will allow you to split only pairs of the same card, some variants will allow you to split different face cards – such as a Q and a K.
Peek for Blackjack: In most casinos the dealer will always peek to see if he has a Blackjack anytime he has an Ace or a face card/10. However, in some casinos the dealer will not peek, increasing the house’s advantage as players might double or split without knowing the dealer has a Blackjack.
Automatic Winner Charlie Rule: Some casinos have a rule where if you have a hand with 5-7 cards without busting, you will be an automatic winner. The lower the number of cards required to win, the lower the house edge.
While playing online Blackjack is the perfect way to learn to play the game at your own pace, some players will want to test their new skills at a land based casino. If you decide to visit your local casino’s blackjack table, here are some tips on table etiquette you should keep in mind:
Sit out the first few hands – If this is your first time playing with others at a blackjack table, you may want to watch a few rounds to observe how others behave, and how a typical hand should go.
Make sure there’s an open spot – Even if a chair is empty, make sure the betting circle is not being used by another player who is playing multiple hands at once.
Buying chips – To ensure you get the chips you want, ask the dealer for the denominations you are looking for when placing your money in the middle of the table.
Do not touch the cards – Most blackjack games are played face up and you are not allowed to touch your cards under any circumstances. Only if you are playing a face down game will you be allowed to touch them, in which case make sure to always keep your cards above the table.
Making decisions – Use the accepted hand gestures or audibly tell the dealer the action you wish to take.
Table Talk – Blackjack is often a group activity, and talking to other players is often part of the fun. However, if someone chooses to play silently it is polite to let them be. Do not tell others how to play their hand unless they ask for advice or seem open to it. Never berate a player for making what you consider a bad decision.
Be polite to everyone at the table – It is considered bad table manners to get overly excited or being excessively loud when winning, as well as rubbing it in another player’s face if they lose.
While it is certainly not mandatory, if you have a winning streak it is considered good table manners to tip your dealer.
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