Blackjack is the card game of choice for intellectuals, mathematicians, and those who prefer to take a realistic shot at beating the house. For decades it ruled the casino floor, pushing aside brawny craps as the table of choice for high rollers. And, in fact, it still can, though beating the game requires a bankroll that can absorb wild variance and a willingness to continually seek perfection in your technique.
The rules of blackjack are fairly straightforward. The player and dealer are each dealt two cards. The player can then decide to ‘hit’ (ask for an additional card) until their total is closer to 21 than the dealer’s, or they may choose to’stand’ (end their turn). A pair of aces and a 10-value card makes a ‘blackjack’ or ‘natural 21’, and this is a winning hand. Other combinations of cards have different values – the numbers 2 through 10 have their face value, while jacks, queens and kings are worth 10.
Unlike other card games, blackjack players do not play against each other. The game is a game between the house and the player, and to win a player must have a higher hand total than the dealer’s.
The first step to playing blackjack well is understanding the odds. The odds of getting a blackjack are very good, but the odds of getting a hand total that is less than 21 are much worse. If a player is aware of these odds, they can make wise decisions about when to hit and when to stand.
In addition to basic strategy, the other key element to beating blackjack is keeping track of the cards. This can be difficult, especially at a fast-paced table. For this reason, some players keep a small notebook with them to write down the cards they have received. The information can be useful in deciding future action, as well as for studying past hands.
Some blackjack games allow players to place side bets along with their main bet. These side bets typically pay out at a higher rate than the main wager. The rules of side bets vary from one game to the next, and some casinos require that a blackjack wager must be equal to or exceed any side bet wager.
There are also blackjack variants that offer bonus features such as Blackjack Spin. In this type of game the dealer deals a standard two-card hand to each player, and then allows them to make a fixed side bet of up to half their blackjack bet. Then, they press a button to spin a virtual wheel and hope for a payout such as extra blackjack bets or a top jackpot award. This can increase the overall house edge of blackjack, but can be fun for players who like to gamble a bit differently from the norm! The bonus feature is available at many online and mobile casinos.