The rules for playing blackjack are relatively simple, which is part of what makes it such a popular game. It’s not so complex as to be intimidating, like craps can be for many, yet it has enough strategy behind it to make it interesting.
The goal of the game is to have a hand that adds up to 21 – or as close to it as you can get without going over. If the hand is over 21, you lose. If the hand is under 21, you still have a chance to win – as long as the dealer doesn’t have something higher (while still staying under 21).
Game play starts with the dealer distributing two cards to each player and to himself. Players’ cards are dealt face up, but the dealer’s cards are dealt one down and one up. Players will then take a look at their own cards and make an assessment about their value and about the possible value of the dealer’s hand. All face cards have the number value they show, and jacks, queens, and kings all have a value of 10. An ace can have a value of 1 or 11. Therefore, a hand that has an ace and an 8 could have a value of 9 or 19. You don’t have to declare that value; it will come out in the final play.
Once players have determined their hand’s value and make a judgment about the value of the dealer’s hand, they can make a decision about whether to bet. Then they will need to hit – or ask for an additional card – or to stand – to keep their hand as it is. They can hit as many times as they like, until they get as close to 21 as they can or they go over.
Know that a dealer must hit on any hand that is less than 16. If the dealer has 17, he must stand. This information can help you when determining your betting strategy since you are playing against the dealer.
There are other plays that an individual player may make, depending on the value of their first two cards:
- Double down. When a player has a hand that values 10 or 11, it is a common strategy to double down. With this play, a player will double their bet but will only get one additional card. Since the odds are good that any card you are dealt next in blackjack will be a 10, this is a good strategy to bet on hitting at or near 21.
- Split. Players who get a pair on their first hand may choose to split. With this play, they will essentially have two hands, hitting on each in an attempt to get to 21 and giving themselves two chances to win. If a player splits a pair of aces, only one more card can be dealt to each. It is highly recommended to always split aces or 8s, but never to split any other face cards (just jacks, queens, and kings).
Play goes through each player before the dealer plays his hand. Then all hands are evaluated and paid out, or the bets are collected.
Knowing the basic rules of the game can help you feel better prepared when you arrive at the table. You may also want to practice with a friend at home to get you feeling even more confident. You can even practice betting with chips – no money need be involved!
Betting at a blackjack table starts when you join the table. You must make the minimum table bet, and then the cards are dealt. Players can continue raising their bet throughout their hand.
Since there are two ways to win a blackjack hand, there are also two ways to collect. Getting a blackjack, or exactly 21, will pay out 3-2. However, simply getting closer to 21 than the dealer without going over will pay out 1-1.
Some common betting strategies include:
- Take insurance. If a dealer’s hand shows an ace on the face-up card, a player may decide to take insurance. The cost for taking insurance is half the original bet. If the dealer gets blackjack, the player will still be paid out 2-1.
- Take even money. If you get a blackjack, you may not win the hand because the dealer may also get a blackjack. Therefore, if you have a blackjack but see that the dealer has an ace as his face card, you may decide to take even money. In this case, you would be paid less if it turned out that the dealer didn’t have a blackjack but you did, but you would also be paid more if it turned out that the dealer did have a blackjack (in which case you would have gotten nothing).
There are several other advanced betting strategies that players use in blackjack to increase their odds and their winnings.
The Martingale System involves doubling your bet after each hand you lose in an attempt to offset any losses. The idea is that, eventually, you will when, and when you do, you will win back the amount that you have lost on previous hands. However, you’ll need to have quite a lot of money ready to bet if you find yourself on a losing streak. Losing 10 hands in a row isn’t uncommon in blackjack, so in order for this strategy to pay off, you have to have the cash on hand to keep you betting through it all.
A Winning Streak Strategy attempts to do the opposite of what the Martingale System does, capitalizing on a positive progression rather than a negative one. The key to success with the Winning Streak Strategy is to not only increase your bet with each hand, but also to know when to stop. Even if you’ve won three hands in a row, you know that your streak must end. It’s better to end it on your own than to have it ended by a loss.
For games offering even-money payouts, you might consider using the Oscar’s Grind strategy. With this strategy, you make the same bet on each hand, say $10, until you win. When you win, you increase your bet by the same amount. If you were betting $10, that means your next bet after a win would be $20. You then keep betting $20 until you win again. Then you increase your bet by that same amount, this time to $30, and keep betting it until you win again. You continue with this strategy until you have a net profit from where you started. When you do, you restart your bet at $10, doing the same thing until you clear new profit and start the cycle over.
Many people also learn how to count cards to determine their odds of success (or the dealer’s) with the next card that is drawn. However, this strategy is highly discouraged as many casinos take action against it. Counting cards also distracts you from paying attention to other aspects of the game where you can make strategic moves.
At the Blue Lake Casino, we offer a comprehensive entertainment experience that includes fun, food, and luxury. You can come here just to play blackjack in our exciting table room, or you can sample from many of our other amenities, such as our spa, our upscale dining locales, or our lounge. You can enjoy a massage, eat a gourmet meal, or listen to some of the best live music in the area before or after you spend some time in our table game room or with our slots. Our staff are happy to answer any questions you may have about the games or about betting so that you can feel comfortable and have a great time while you are with us. Visit the Blue Lake Casino today to have a great time!