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Blackjack is a card game played between a player and a dealer. In land casinos, it is played by several players at one table, the online version is most of the time tete-a-tete (one on one) The game is one of the most popular gambling games online and in land casinos. Blackjack is played with 1-8 decks of 52 cards dealt from a special box, called a shoe. Most of the time the decks are reshuffled after each game.
Let's now consider the most common hands in blackjack that players should remember.
Blackjack or Natural
A hand of two cards with an Ace and any 10-valued card is called Blackjack or Natural. This hand is an automatic winner unless the dealer has Natural too. The last case is a tie, or a push and all the bets are returned.
A hand of two or more cards with an Ace counted as 11 is called a soft hand.
A hand of two or more cards with an Ace counted as 1 is called a hard hand.
1. The game starts after players make their bets which may be limited according to the table betting limits. The dealer makes two passes as he deals two cards to each player face up (according to some blackjack rules, as in Pontoon, cards may be dealt face down), after that he deals two cards to himself: one face up and the other face down (the Hole card).
2. After all the players have been dealt their cards, it is time for them to decide how to play them. The dealer goes from one player to another and they choose whether to Hit (take another card) or to Stand (take no more cards). In addition, players can choose to Double down or Split - the meaning of these two options will be explained in some paragraphs below.
3. The dealer plays his hand after the players have finished. Each dealer follows strict blackjack rules when making a decision. The rule for blackjack dealers concerns a hand value of 17. This rule means that the dealer should take a card when his hand is 16 or less and stand on 17 or higher. Most of the time this rule is seen written on the blackjack table which might say "Dealer Stands on All 17's".
4. The player's hand is compared only to the dealers hand as the player plays only against the dealer. Therefore, other players' cards are not important unless the player is counting cards. All the blackjack myths that tell you other player's game can influence yours are exactly that.. myths.
5. The dealer wins when the player go bust or gets a hand lower than the dealer. In case the dealer wins, the player loses everything. If the player wins, the dealer pays out even money. Blackjack pays 3 to 2. When the dealer wins the player loses all the bets (with the exception of side bets) made on this hand.
Hitting is asking for another cards. Players are allowed to hit as many times as he wants until he busts or has a hand of 21.
Standing is asking for no more cards. The player that stands does not play his hand anymore and this hand is then compared to the dealer's hand.
Doubling down is asking to be dealt only one extra card and doubling the original bet. After the player Doubles down he stands automatically.
In case first two cards dealt were a pair of cards of the same value, the player may choose to split them forming two hands and thus doubling the bet. After this the player decides how to play each hand separately as the dealer deals the second card. The perfect choice of when to split concerns splitting Aces and 8's. For more advice on how to play blackjack pairs and split consult the blackjack strategy for splitting pairs.
Besides the basic blackjack options described above the players are offered extra blackjack options which include: Insurance bet, Even Money bet and Surrender option. The first ones, Insurance and Even Money, are found in all blackjack games, whereas Surrender is very rarely found in casinos.
Insurance is an extra bet offered when the dealer shows an Ace. This bet costs half of the original bet and protects player in case the dealer has a Natural. After the Insurance bet has been taken or passed, the dealer checks his Hole card. If the dealer has a Natural, the players loses the original bet and the insurance bets win 2-to-1. If the dealer does not have a Natural, the Insurance bets are lost and the players keep on playing their hands.
In case the player has a Natural (Blackjack) and the dealer up card is an Ace, the player is offered an Even Money bet. This bet protects player from a push in case the dealer also has Blackjack. This bet equals half of the original bet as the Insurance and if the dealer has Blackjack, the player gets their initial bet back and gets the Even Money bet 2 to 1.
The surrender option is not found in many casinos, though this does not mean it cannot be found. This option provides a chance to surrender half of the original bet in cases where consider you have a losing hand. This bet is made before any decisions like Hit or Stand and allows you to save half of the original bet.
The surrender option if found can be of two types - EARLY or LATE.
Early Surrender gives a player a chance to save half of his bet before dealer checks for Blackjack. As this version is of advantage to the player, it is very rarely found. The Late Surrender is more often found at blackjack tables. This version of blackjack rules allows the player to forfeit his bet only after the dealer checks his hole card for a Blackjack.
NB: It is important to know that the Insurance and Even money bets are the ones recommended to ignore as they are the extra source of house edge. Whereas the Surrender option allows the player to control the game and get at least half of the money back on losing bets.