Blackjack

BLACKJACKBlackjack or ”21” is the most popular casino table game in the world. If you’re somewhat into the whole gambling thing, there’s a high chance that you have heard about the game and even know how to play it. In case you don’t, we have prepared this guide for people just like you. Not only is Blackjack the most popular game, but it also is a lot of fun to play and very simple to learn. There’s an element of skill playing a roll, but as in most gambling forms, casino has an advantage over players, the so called house edge. However, Blackjack is also one of the rare games where it’s possible to be in advantage versus the casino. This is done by card counting, but lets try not to jump into things and take a step by step over all the aspects of the game.

Hand Values

The main goal in BlackJack is to get as close as possible to a hand value of 21, but without exceeding it. If you go over 21, you loose. However, you are not awarded for being just close to 21, you have to get a higher point score than the dealer. Let’s take a look at how the hand value is calculated first.

  • All Aces are worth either 1 or 11 points, whichever benefits the player more.
  • All face cards (Tens, Jacks, Queens, Kings) are worth 10 points.
  • Numbered cards between 2 and 9 are worth their face value – a deuce is worth 2 points, a nine is worth 9 points and so on.

GamePlay

Every hand of BlackJack starts with players putting up wagers that they are willing to risk by betting on their hand to win. Dealer then proceeds on dealing the cards one by one, to create a 2 card hand for every player participating in the hand. He also deals one card to himself, sometimes two with one upside down depending on the game type you’re playing. Players are now acting clockwise from the left to the right and have the following options:

  • Hit – take another card.
  • Stay – don’t take another card and keep the current hand value.
  • Split – if your cards are of the same value (8;8 for example) you can split them and play each as a separate hand by hitting cards and holding a hand value of 8 at every one of them.
  • Double Down – double your wager and take another card. This is usually performed when holding a point score of 10 or 11 and dealer has a relatively bad card.
  • Surrender – some BlackJack variations will allow you to perform a surrender, by doing so you get half of your wager back and are done with the hand. You cannot surrender if dealer is holding an ace.

Once all the players have chosen and decided what to do with every particular hand, the action moves over to the dealer, who also takes cards. He has to hit under his hand features a value of at least 17, regardless of how good the players have performed. Some BlackJack variations also feature a rule that the dealer has to hit on soft 17 (an ace and a six). So the dealer hits until at least 17 or until he busts (exceeds 21), which means that all the players still holding a hand have won.

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Payouts

Once the dealer is done drawing by either hitting 17 or higher or busting, payouts are awarded. There are a couple of scenarios possible:

  • Players hand features a higher point value – an even money payout at 1:1 odds is awarded.
  • Dealers hand features a higher point value – player loses his bet.
  • Player and dealer both have hands of exact same point value – in this scenario the hand is considered as a ”push” and player neither wins or loses.

There are exceptions to the payout odds, though. If player hits the so called natural hand (BlackJack), consisting of an ace and a face card, he qualifies for a payout at increased odds of 3:2. This is given that the dealer himself doesn’t have a natural hand too, in case he does, the hand is considered as push and no payouts are made.

Strategy

BlackJack is one of the few casino games that actually features an element of skill and the house edge can be turned around by following a certain set of rules. Lets start with the basic strategy, by following it you’ll be playing every single hand as optimally as possible, when it comes to mathematics. While this will help you to decrease the house edge to a minimum, it won’t help you to overcome it. In order to overcome the edge and actually gain one yourself, you’ll either have to cheat or count cards.

Card counting is basically keeping a track of the cards that are dealt, thus becoming well aware of the ones that are left in the deck. We won’t go into detail about how to do this, as that will be done in another article, but imagine that you would assign a specific value to all types of cards. The ones you don’t want are between 2-9, while the ones you do want are tens through aces. If you assign -1 to all 2-9 cards and +1 to all tens through aces, after a while you would be able to determine the likelihood of getting one of the high cards dealt based on this count. This is a very simple example and actual card counting is a very hard task and requires a lot of training.

Betting Systems

You might have spotted a couple of articles on various betting systems we have on the site. Well, all of them can be applied when playing BlackJack as just about any other game that features even money payouts. Lets take a look at some of the most popular ones, that we’ve fully covered with dedicated articles.

  • Martingale Betting SystemThe Martingale System is the most basic and also popular betting system out there. It suggests that a gambler should double his initial wager after a loss until he wins. Even though the system seems like a sure thing, it’s heavily flawed.
  • The Paroli Betting SystemThe Paroli System is a similar betting system to The Martingale, but instead of advising to double your wager when lost, Paroli advises to increase it by one betting unit when winning. If you hit a hot streak, chances are that you’ll get a pretty significant payouts rolling.
  • The Labouchere Betting System – known as the cancellation system, the Labouchere advises that a gambler should write down a series of numbers and use them for determining how much he/she should bet.

The House Edge

BlackJack is one of the most variance filled casino games out there, meaning that you can easily win boatloads of money as well as loose it real quick. This is ”thanks” to the low house edge this game features. Given that you follow the optimal strategy, the house edge can be as low as 0.49%. It also highly depends on the type of BlackJack – the lowest edge can be found in game type using a single deck of cards.

Top 3 BlackJack Casinos

In order to have a pleasant gaming experience online, you have to choose the right casino. That might be quite a task given how many online casinos are currently out there, but don’t worry as we’ve made a list of the top 3 casinos for BlackJack players. Join any of these ones and you’ll be set for exactly what you’re looking for, a fun gaming experience in a safe and relaxing environment.

1. 32Red Casino – 32Red is a huge gambling brand offering betting, poker and casino services. It’s fully licensed and listed at the London Stock Exchange. When it comes to BlackJack, it’s offered in more than 20 variations all of whom are powered by MicroGaming.

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2. William Hill Casino – WH will be a great choice for high rollers, those who are looking to play for high stakes. This is mainly because of the tailored bonus offerings as well as super high betting limits in the VIP area. Of course, every player will get treated well so it doesn’t matter if you aren’t looking to place high wagers, William Hill is still a great place for your gaming needs.

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3. 888 Casino – 888 brings the finest casino playing experience to the table. Enjoy stunning live dealer BlackJack or play the casual online version. There’s also a very generous welcome package of up to £900 when you make your first deposit. On top of all that, you’ll also take part in the VIP loyalty program and constant promotions that run pretty much daily.

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