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How To Play Blackjack

Blackjack is also sometimes known as the game of twenty-one. This is because the objective of this card game is to get a hand value of 21 or near 21 to win the round. Each player plays against the hand of the dealer and not against other players’ hands. 

Blackjack can be played with several decks of cards or just one deck. It could be four, six or eight decks. Each deck consists of 52 cards. Shuffling can be done manually or via a machine. Big casinos have shuffling machines in their card games tables. For blackjack games having only one or two decks, a dealer could just manually shuffle before dealing. For multi-deck games, there are tray-like boxes sometimes called a shoe where cards are drawn. It enables a faster paced game so that more rounds can be played.

If a game is handheld, cards are dealt face down. Players wait for the dealer to finish before they can pick up their cards. In a shoe game however, cards are dealt face up but just the same, players could not touch their cards until after the dealing is finished.

As stated earlier, to win in blackjack, one has to beat the hand of the dealer. If the total value of a player’s hand is greater than that of the dealer’s, he wins. As an additional rule, no hand should go over 21. A hand is called a bust if it totals over 21. A player automatically loses in a bust. If a dealer busts, all players in the table automatically win. However, players are first to make their decisions whether to hit, stand or double down before a dealer does. This rule is a house advantage so that even if a dealer busts, if a player busts first, that player still loses.

A deck of playing cards has four suits namely club, spade, heart and diamond. In many card games, the suits have rankings and affect the point system. In blackjack, these suits do not affect the game results. Therefore, all four cards of 1 get on point each, and so on. Ace can be counted as 1 or 11. Face cards of jack, queen and king are all equivalent to 10 points each. 

A hard hand is composed of cards without an ace. The total value is absolute. A soft hand is composed of cards with one or two aces. The total value changes depending on how the ace is used by the player. Normally, whichever will make the hand more winnable becomes the default value of the ace.

The blackjack table is composed of a semi-circle plus several smaller circles to separate players from one another. As a player sits to signify his intention to join, he must buy chips from the dealer. Later on, if he wants to transfer to another table, he could bring the chips he purchased with him.

There is a designated circle on the table where bets should be placed. Any bets not on this area will not be considered. All bets or chips should be in before a play begins. Bets added once dealing is starting will not be counted.

To begin a round, a dealer deals cards to players starting from his left. Each player initially receives two cards each. This pair of cards is called a hand. A dealer then exposes one of his cards. The other card that remains face down is called a hole card. Each player is then asked about his decision based on the exposed card of the dealer as against his own hand. 

The player to the left most of the dealer is asked first. He is called the base. The last player to make a decision is called third base. The decision involves telling the dealer about his course of action in the game. There are standardized signals to tell a dealer one’s personal decision to prevent miscommunications or verbal confusions. A player could stop and play using his current hand. This is called a stand. He could choose to hit or draw another card to add to his current hand. He could also decide to double down or split and possibly increase his winnings.

Any card worth 10 points plus an ace is an automatic blackjack because it totals 21. This hand is also called a natural. If this happens, the payout for the bet is 3 to 2 if the dealer did not get a blackjack. However if both player and dealer get 21, it is a push. If the dealer has a blackjack, all the players lose automatically.

To hit, tap your fingers on the table in front of you. The dealer will then give you another card. Two things could happen after a third card is dealt. It could improve your hand meaning it totals closer or equal to 21, or it could bust by going over 21. You automatically lose with a bust.

To stand means a player is satisfied with his current hand and is not interested to get a third card anymore. The signal is to wave the palm of one’s hands over the cards.

To double down is to double the bet if a player thinks his hand has a good chance of winning. To signal this, simply place additional chips next to your bet.

To split means to separate a pair of cards if both cards are of the same value. To signal a dealer that you want to split, place a second bet next to your first bet in the designated circle. Do not place the second bet on top of the first bet but only beside it. Do not separate your cards either. Let the dealer do it. Once split, the cards shall be played separately and the dealer goes on to give you a third card for the first card. In effect, you will have two hands.

An insurance is offered if a dealer gets an ace card. It is only called an insurance but is actually a side bet. A player who buys insurance is actually wagering half of his original bet that a dealer has a 10 on his face down card.

Some casinos give players an option to surrender. Not all hands will be forced to be played. If a player feels that his hand has no chance of winning, he could surrender or fold. The player then forfeits half of his bet and waits until the next round when he could wager again and play.

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