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Blackjack Guide

Blackjack is a simple game to play but a difficult game to win at consistently. Sure, the luck of the draw may have you on a hot streak where you are winning rather consistently but truly understanding the game and knowing when to hit, when to stand, when to double down and when to split will help you to be an effective player over the long run. The object of blackjack is to have a hand that is closer to 21 in value than the dealer’s hand. An ace can either be used as a 1 or an 11, the face cards have a value of 10 and each other card in the deck has a value equal to the number shown on the card. The dealer is obligated to hit until they reach or exceed a value of 17 and they must stand when their hand equals or exceeds 17. When you and the dealer have equal hands at a value greater than 17, it is a push and you get your money back. If you have the hand that is closer to 21, you win your bet at a 1:1 payout and if you have a blackjack hand consisting of an ace and a face card you win at a 3:2 payout. A blackjack hand beats a hand of 21 obtained another way. Those are the basic rules of blackjack but the strategies involved are much more detailed.

Blackjack Terminology

Understanding the terminology of blackjack is critical to your success when you are playing. This knowledge lets you play at with the confidence of knowing that you fully comprehend what is happening at the table. The following are some terms that you may find useful. Hit after your initial cards are drawn you can hit until you either bust or reach a value that you are happy with and no longer wish to hit. When you opt to hit, the dealer deals you additional cards until you tell them that you want to stand. Stand when you stand you are indicating that you are happy with the value of your cards and that you no longer wish to be dealt any additional cards.

Double down is when you double your bet. Once you do this, you will only be dealt one more card so it is wise to do this when you believe that the next card dealt will give you a winning hand. Split when your original two cards are of equal value, you have the option to split them into two hands with equal bets. The game then continues as usual and you are able to hit or stand on each hand individually. It is important to not the rules of each table because some casinos will only allow one additional hit when you split aces. Also, if you are hit with a face card on one of your aces from a split this will be treated as a 21 hand a not a blackjack hand. Push this is when you and the dealer have equal hands greater than or equal to 17. In this scenario, neither party wins and your bet is returned to you.

Know How Many Decks are being Played

Similarly to poker, it is important to know how many decks are being played. This number can range from 1 deck to 15 decks but it is rare to find a 1 deck game of blackjack. Most involve multiple decks. Keeping track of what cards have already been played, gives you the advantage or knowing how many cards of a particular value are remaining in the deck. This gives you the confidence of knowing that you are playing the percentages. For example, towards the end of the deck you will be more aware of what cards are likely based on how many of a particular value are remaining in relationship to the total amount of cards remaining. You can take advantage of this knowledge to bet more aggressively at this time and to take more risks in terms of doubling down when you are confident that the odds of you winning are high. The following table is useful for tracking the cards that have been played already. This table is for a single deck game but it can be modified for any number of decks by adding additional columns for each value for each additional deck in play.

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