Learn to Play Blackjack from Professional Gamblers
First of all, a player needs to understand the objective to playing blackjack is to beat the dealer without exceeding twenty-one points. It’s not to beat other players or to get to twenty-one either. The strategy is simple and yet complex. The other main objective is to learn how to count points and to know what to do in order to beat the dealer. The song by Kenny Rogers that depicts a gambler singing about knowing when to hold them and when to fold them is not far from the truth.
The basics are simple. Know the objective, which is to beat the dealer, understand the rules of blackjack and learn the odds of winning a hand.
Blackjack is one of the most popular card games throughout modern and ancient history. It’s one of the most played anywhere, online and in casinos all over the world. The player competes against the dealer, not other players, which makes a person wonder about the history of a game like Blackjack.
When the word blackjack is mentioned, most people know the game or at least know something about it, but the history of this card game is a bit controversial. That’s because there are two countries who lay claim to the origins of blackjack. Italy claims to be its motherland, while France makes the claim also.
In 1440, a monk mentions the game of thirty-one, which is suspiciously played like Blackjack. The game of thirty-one is played by using three cards to add up to 31. Sounds a lot like trying to vie for twenty-one in blackjack, doesn’t it? There are also some famous books that mention a game of thirty-one throughout history. Francois Rabelais mentions the game in Gargantua and Pantagruel as does Miguel de Cervantes in Riconete and Cortadillo, a short story set in Seville in the fifteen hundreds.
Not to be left out, the French claim its history is more in tune with modern day blackjack. Where the Italians played thirty-one, the French played a game called Vingt Et Un, against the dealer with the objective to hit twenty-one points. In the French version, only the dealer was allowed to double. The kings of the time period, like Louis XV and Napoleon loved to play this game.
Another game from Italy called seven and a half was similar to blackjack as well, except some of the face values of the cards were a bit different than blackjack. The dealer also had more authority, he or she was allowed to hit and stand whenever they wanted.
Along comes America after the French Revolution of 1779. It became so popular in America because the government didn’t regulate blackjack games then. Guess what happened? Corruption, crime and gamblers vying for big money is what went on in almost every area of the nation. It wasn’t called blackjack yet, but twenty-one, the game from the French immigrants.
By the nineteenth century, blackjack became illegal. The government finally declared a prohibition on the game, where it stayed illegal up until 1931 when the state of Nevada legalized gambling. The rest is history, Las Vegas soon became a blackjack mecca. Even today, when the word blackjack is mentioned,so does Las Vegas.
Some fun facts: Roger Baldwin wrote a book in 1957 on how to play using a mathematical strategy. In the 1060’s, Edward Thorp wrote a book on card counting, called Beat The Dealer and in the 1980’s Ken Uston had a card counting strategy that won him millions of dollars from many casinos. What many don’t know is he won a case against Atlantic City casinos to be able to use his card counting strategies in casinos.
Blackjack Rules of play
A special table is set up in a casino for blackjack games where there can be no more than eight players at one time. A dealer will begin and lead the game. There’s usually between six to eight decks of cards with fifty-two cards in each deck. A good thing to remember is the dealer leads the game and controls the bets.
The bets are made before any cards are dealt by the casino employee. So when all the bets are out there, no player should touch any more chips or try to change their bet. It can lead to trouble.
The dealer will deal two cards and give two cards to the player. The player’s cards are face up but only one of the dealers are face up. The other is face down. Now the fun begins because a player doesn’t know what the dealer has.
There are options for the player as well as for the dealer. Let’s take a look at the player’s options first. There are six options to chose from. Remember the goal, to beat the dealer’s hand. The six options to chose from:
To ask for a hit is to take another card from the dealer to improve the options of beating their hand. If the player says they will stand, it means he/she doesn’t want any more cards because the hand seems to be good enough that it may beat the dealers hand. A split is when there are two cards the same. Say for example, there are two fives. A player would split them and it would be like playing two different hands.
To double down is to ask for one more card, then double the bet. When this is done, the results of the play is final. Let’s say the dealer most likely has blackjack. A player can make an additional bet called insurance. If the player is correct and wins, the bet is doubled. But if the dealer doesn’t have blackjack, the insurance bet is lost and the first bet must be played.
The last play is giving up the hand, called surrender. If there is nothing the player can do, it’s better to surrender and try again.
For a dealer, the rules are determined mostly by the casino. One of the rules is the dealer is allowed to stand or hit. Most dealers will hit if they have less than a sixteen. There is a rule about the dealers hitting or standing on seventeen. A player may see S17 or H17 at a blackjack table in a casino. S17 means soft 17 and a dealer may stay, where an H17 means a dealer must hit or play another card if he/she gets a seventeen.
Knowing these basic rules of a blackjack game can help any player at a casino or online.
Playing online can be more rewarding than having to go out to a casino. Imagine sitting at home in comfort rather than being out and about, dealing with traffic and people and even the weather. There are plenty of pros to online gambling. For one, playing for free to learn the game is easy to do in front of a computer with no one watching. The option to play multiple games is more fun online because in a casino there is only one game at a time to play and sometimes up to eight players at one table.
The great thing about Blackjack strategy charts is it will give a player more chances to beat than at a casino. The charts online will describe what the dealer has and also what the player has so knowing the abbreviations will help, along with a decent memory. At a casino, the charts are not allowed, but playing online is so much easier because a player has the strategy chart right on the screen.
Card Counting Strategy
It seems card counting is heard of quite often in the game of Blackjack. When a dealer begins to deal each card, a player can keep track of what is being put out because some of the cards are face up.
By counting cards, the player may increase the bet in the hopes of hitting blackjack. Let’s say for instance, after counting, the player feels there are more aces and tens still in the deck. The chances are greater, so the hopes of hitting blackjack seem to be better by keeping track of what cards have already been dealt.
By using a card counting system, it just means points are assigned to each card rank. For an example, one point may be assigned for two to seven, zero points for eight and nine and maybe one point for ten through ace. Each time a card is exposed from the dealer, the counter will put a score to that card. After adding the running total, the player makes his/her decision from the count or running total. By using this card counting strategy, it gives the player a bit of an edge over the dealer.
In casinos, most times players are asked not to reveal their cards in single deck games so the other players cant use this strategy. Casinos can get nasty about card counting and can ban a player from the property. Online blackjack makes it more fun and interesting than in a real casino.
Shuffle Tracking Strategy
Another strategy is called shuffle tracking, which may make it possible to swing an advantage towards a player instead of the dealer. What happens is a player watches and tracks groups of the cards from the time the deck is shuffled. This takes a keen eye and the ability to estimate the cards but it’s harder to detect from a live casino.
Free Online Games
If you are still confused how to play, one of the greatest features of online gambling is the ability to provide options for players, free games being one of the options. This will give a player the chance to practice and learn the strategies before dishing any money out. It’s a great way to get better at this game.
There’s no need to download any programs if playing for free. The bank online will give a player a bankroll so the player can begin to place their bet. There’s no real money to lose so relaxing and enjoying the game is the foremost thing to do. This is a way to improve blackjack skills even for those who are more experienced with the game.
A downfall of playing free games is there is no money to win, but the fact is skills and strategies may improve and may move a player to try playing online for real money, along with tournaments too.
When playing online there are some guidelines to follow to make the advantage works for the player.
This is called hard hands. If playing a hand without an Ace or if the Ace must be counted as one point, then hit with a total of eight or less. If there is a total of nine, double if the dealer shows a three, four, five or six. If the hand total is a ten or eleven and the dealer shows a card lower, make sure to double. If not, make sure to hit. If a player has a hand of twelve thru sixteen and the dealer has a seven or higher, make a hit. Only stand if the dealer shows less than a seven. Always stand with seventeen to twenty-one.
If a player has what they call soft hands, it is because they have a hand with an Ace that can be played as either a one or an eleven and a player can’t bust when a soft hand is played. The rules are, hit if there is a soft hand of fifteen or less. If the dealer has a six or less and the player has cards from sixteen to eighteen, double down. If not, then hit. Make sure to always stand for nineteen or more.
Pair hands means to split with aces or eights. Do not split with fours, fives or tens. But if the dealer shows six or less with any other cards, make sure to split. If unable to split, don’t take out any insurance and if there is no way to double down, hit.
Good Rules vs Bad Rules
To make these strategies and rules work when playing online, it’s better to use a single deck because the less amount of decks will reduce the houses edge. The only problem with this is single decks sometimes have poor rules making the evaluation a bit tricky. Using a two deck shoe may be better in the long run because it still will reduce the edge by at least twenty percent.
Playing split Aces will improve the odds by around twenty percent also. Surrendering after the dealer checks if he/she has blackjack is another option, reducing their edge by a few percent.
Those were some of the good rules of playing online. Now for the bad. If there is a rule that the dealer can hit on a soft 17, the house edge may be increased by over twenty percent. Another rule of a game to be wary about is if there is no double down after a split. It does give the house a fourteen percent advantage over the player.
The odds of blackjack or twenty-one depend on what rules are implemented for a certain game. Using less decks is better but it also depends on what the player is allowed to do. Finding a game with the best odds online is more gratifying and also much easier than playing at a real live casino. There are so many to chose from online.
Try to find a game with rules that will work in the players advantage. In a game of twenty-one, some of the best rules are using eight decks of cards or what is called an eight deck shoe. Play games where the dealer must stand on seventeen at all times and where the player can double after splitting their cards. It’s better if a player can re-split up to four hands and not be able to re-split Aces. Blackjack should pay three to two and surrender should not be allowed. The last rule is if the player would lose only the original bet against the dealer’s blackjack. This would be a game where the house edge is about twenty five percent. If a player looks for something like this, it can be in their best interest to do so.
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Michael Dean Moriarty has over 20 years in the igaming and casino industry. He has written for several major publications as an expert in gambling and casino conduct.