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The objective of the game is to get a hand of cards with a value as close as possible to 21, without going over, while also being closer to 21 than the Dealers hand. Face cards are worth 10 points, Aces are worth 1 or 11, whichever is preferable, and all other cards are worth their face values.
Before receiving any cards, the player makes their bet. Then the Player is dealt two cards, face up, and the Dealer gets two cards, one face up, the other face down.
If the Players cards total 21, it is a ‘Blackjack’, the best possible hand. If the Player is dealt any other combination of cards, they can then choose the following options:
Stand – Refuse any more cards.
Hit – Accept another card
Split – When the Player has two cards of equal value, they can be split into two seperate hands. In order to split, the initial bet must be matched, and the hands are then played separately.
Double Down – Double your initial bet on first two cards. Only one more card can be dealt. Some casinos let you double down after Splitting, and some will limit Doubling Down to hands that total 10 or 11.
Insurance – When the Dealers up card is an Ace, the Player is offered ‘Insurance’. It’s a second bet, of half the original bet value, that the Dealers card is a 10, an so Dealer will have a Blackjack 21. If this is the case, the Player is paid at 2 to 1 on the Insurance bet. If the Dealer does not have a 10, the Insurance bet is lost, and the hand is played out as normal.
Surrender – Give up your hand, and lose only 1/2 the bet.
Even Money – Player can cash in the bet immediately at an Evens payout when dealt a Blackjack, and the Dealers up card is an Ace. This is taken when the Player believes that the Dealers down card is a 10, and would result in a Tie.
Once the Player has taken one of these options, the Dealer reveals the down card. If the Dealers hand is 16 or less, the Dealer must Hit until reaching 17 or more. If the Dealer exceeds 21, and the Player has stood without busting, (going over 21), the Player wins.
If the Dealer stands on 17 or more, and the Players has stood on 16, the Dealer wins.
If the Dealer and Player have the same total, it is a Tie. (Push)
Below is some extremely basic blackjack strategy, the game is a lot more complex that it may appear. I recently stumbled upon a website with the best blackjack strategy that I would urge players to read.
Blackjack is unusual in that you can apply ‘Basic Strategy’ to the game, and reduce the House Edge down to about 0.5%. By following the chart below, and Standing, Hitting or Splitting as directed, you greatly increase your chances of winning.
If you want, you can also follow this staking plan. For example, if you lose the first hand, bet £1, if you lose again, bet £1.50 etc.
Staking plan – 1 / 1 / 1.5 / 1.5 / 2 / 2 / 3 / 3 / 5 / 5 / 7 / 7 / 10
Most UK players of a certain age who played a lot of card games in pubs and clubs will know Blackjack as pontoon or simply 21. Shoot pontoon was a popular games back in the day where one player was the banker, and the other tried to take their money.
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