If you want to learn to play blackjack, you are clearly in good company, as this is the most widely played casino game in the world. The history of this game remains somewhat shrouded in mystery, however the most convincing explanation is that it originated in casinos in France around the turn of the eighteenth century. Its original name was Vingt-et-Un which is French for Twenty One (an alternative name for blackjack in Anglophone casinos throughout the world, and online, too). The number 21 is crucial to the game of blackjack. Read on to find out why.
Blackjack rules: can you make it to twenty one?
Blackjack is a card counting game, which means that in order to win, players need to acquire a set of cards that equals – or at least best approximates – a certain value. As you may have guessed, that value is 21. The name of the game in blackjack is to get two cards that add up to the value of 21. Royal cards (kings, queens and jacks) all add up to 10, whilst an ace can equal 11 or 1 depending on which is most convenient for you. The highest ranking hand is called a ‘blackjack’. This hand consists of an ace and a card of the value of 10 (for instance, a blackjack may be an ace and the 10 of spades, or an ace and a king). There are two key forms of blackjack:
- No dealer blackjack: the cards are dealt out by one player, but the sole way of determining the winner is by seeing which player has the hand that most approximates 21
- Dealer blackjack: in order to win, a player must not only have a hand that is closest to 21, but they must also have a hand that is higher than the dealer’s hand (if both the top scoring player and the dealer have hands that equal 20, for instance, the dealer will win by default)
How it happens: playing blackjack online
Blackjack can be played online in computer generated format, or you can opt for a live dealer game. Either way, it will have the same basic structure. Each player places their bets. The dealer deals out two cards to each player and to themselves. If the game is dealer blackjack, the dealer will check to see if they have a blackjack hand. If they do, they will instantly reveal their hand and the game will be over: the dealer has won. If they do not, the first round begins. In each round, each player in turn is asked whether they want to keep their hand as it is (‘stand’) or to ask for another card (‘hit’) to try and make the value up to 21. As each round commences, new bets are placed. During any round, any player who wishes to can withdraw from the game if their hand has exceeded 21 (this is called ‘going bust’). Players do not show each other their cards, but the game finishes when a confident player decides to show their hand, prompting all other players to do likewise. The values of each person’s hand are then evaluated to see who has won.
Follow these tips for s strong blackjack strategy
These three effective blackjack tips will help you to play with confidence every time.
1. Know your probabilities
Research online to learn which are, statistically, the best times to hit and which are the best times to stand. If your hand reaches 17, for instance, it is advisable to stand in all cases to avoid going bust. Yes, you do just need 4 more points to reach 21 but the possibility that you will get 4 points or less in the next round is statistically not very likely at all.
2. Decide on your budget beforehand
In the heat of the game, it can be tempting to make huge bets to impress other players or to try and push them to fold early. This can backfire if you don’t win, however, losing you money. Decide on how much you are willing to gamble with before you start playing, and stick to this resolution: having a prior plan will help you to avoid emotional decisions.
3. Don’t be afraid to fold
Fold early if you have an unfavourable hand. Save money and sit the game out, ready to return with a big bankroll after this game is over.