Basics of Blackjack
In this game, the player and the dealer (the computer) are each dealt two cards. The player and the dealer both try to get their hands to equal twenty-one without going over. The hand that gets closer to twenty-one without going over wins the bet. In blackjack, you are competing only against the dealer, not against the other players. The rules of play for the dealer are strictly dictated, leaving no decisions up to the dealer.
Values of the cards
In blackjack, the cards are valued as follows: An Ace can count as either 1 or 11, as demonstrated below. The cards from 2 through 9 are valued as indicated. The 10, Jack, Queen, and King are all valued at 10.
The value of a hand is simply the sum of the point counts of each card in the hand. For example, a hand containing (5,7,9) has the value of 21. The Ace can be counted as either 1 or 11. You need not specify which value the Ace has. It’s assumed to always have the value that makes the best hand.
How the dealer plays his hand
The dealer must play his hand in a specific way, with no choices allowed. There are two popular rule variations that determine what totals the dealer must draw to. In any given casino, you can tell which rule is in effect by looking at the blackjack tabletop. It should be clearly labeled with one of these rules:
“Dealer stands on all 17s”:
This is the most common rule. In this case, the dealer must continue to take cards (“hit”) until his total is 17 or greater. An Ace in the dealer’s hand is always counted as 11 if possible without the dealer going over 21. For example, (Ace,8) would be 19 and the dealer would stop drawing cards (“stand”). Also, (Ace,6) is 17 and again the dealer will stand. (Ace,5) is only 16, so the dealer would hit. He will continue to draw cards until the hand’s value is 17 or more. For example, (Ace,5,7) is only 13 so he hits again. (Ace,5,7,5) makes 18 so he would stop (“stand”) at that point.
Request another card. You can request a hit as many times as you like, but if your total goes over twenty-one, you will Bust and lose the hand.
If you have two cards of the same denomination, a Split button will appear. You can split the cards into two hands and play each hand separately. Your original bet will be duplicated for the new hand, and each hand will be played out as usual. The number above the currently active hand will turn yellow. The split option can only be used once per hand — you cannot split part of a split hand.
If you select this option, two things will happen: you will get exactly one more card and then your turn will end, and your bet will be doubled. When you use this option, you are betting more money that you will get a good score with just one more card added to your starting two.
Whenever the dealer’s up-card is an ace, the player has an option of taking insurance. If the player believes that the dealer’s down-card is a 10 ranking card, then the player is permitted to place a side bet of up to half the original wager as insurance. If the dealer does have a 10 ranking card, the player is immediately paid 2-to-1 on the insurance bet, but the original wager is lost unless the player too have blackjack and tie the dealer. Here player is not insuring anything, the player is simply betting that the dealer’s unseen card is a 10 ranking card.
Double Down and Split options will only be available immediately after you receive your first two cards. If the dealer has an ace showing, you will be offered a chance to buy Insurance for half of the amount you bet. When you buy insurance you are, in effect, making a second bet. You are betting that the dealer has a natural blackjack. If the dealer does have a natural blackjack (in other words, his down card is a ten or a face card), you will collect a payoff of 2 to 1 on your insurance. You will also lose your original wager, unless you have a natural blackjack too. If the dealer does not have a natural twenty-one, the rest of the hand is played out as usual and you will lose your insurance money.