Ideal for beginners, Blackjack is one of the simplest casino games to play and understand. However, playing for the first time can feel daunting, particularly if you’re using a physical casino. Surrounded by experienced players, it’s a good idea to learn the rules before your visit. Thankfully, we’re here to help. In this article, we explain exactly how to play your first game of Blackjack in a casino.
Before we go any further, let’s explore the basic rules of Blackjack. In the game, the cards are worth their face value; this means that a 6 is worth 6 points, a 3 is worth 3 points, etc. Cards with a picture on, such as Jacks, Kings, and Queens, are worth 10 points. An ace can count as 1 point or 11 points – the choice is yours.
If you have a hand without an ace, or if the ace must be counted as 1 to avoid having a total of 22 or more, you have a hard hand. If you have an ace that can be used as either a 1 or 11, you have a soft hand.
The aim of the game is to beat the dealer. Typically, there are 2 ways you can do this. The first way is to have a higher scoring hand with a total of 21 or less. The second way is to still be in the game when the dealer goes “bust”. If you end up with a total of 22 or higher, you go bust. The best possible score to achieve is 21. If you achieve this with just 2 cards, you have a “Blackjack”. At most casinos, this is paid at a rate of 3 to 2; for instance, if you bet £100, you’d receive a payout of £150 for getting a Blackjack. If the dealer also has a blackjack, both hands are classed as a “push”. In this case, there are no winners. You will keep your original wager with no winnings. Occasionally, the casino may have a rule that the dealer wins a push. As these games have terrible odds, try to avoid them.
If you’re playing live Blackjack, you’ll play around a table with 5 or 6 other players. Before the game begins, you must place your bet out on the table. Once all players have bet, the dealer will give each player 2 cards. Depending on the type of Blackjack, these will either be dealt face up or face down. In a multiple deck game, the cards will be dealt face up from a deck contained in a box. In a single deck game, the cards will be dealt face down from a deck held by the dealer. The dealer also gives himself 2 cards, one which is face down, and the other face up.
Once you get your first cards, you must decide whether to “hit” or “stand”. If you hit, you will be dealt another card. If you stand, you stick with the cards you have. Remember, the aim of the game is to have a higher total than the dealer, without going over 21. With this in mind, base your decisions on your cards and the dealer’s card.
In addition to hitting or standing, you can do any of the following:
If you have 2 cards with the same number, you can “split” the hand. In this case, you wager another bet and play with 2 hands. If you do this, you automatically receive a 2nd card for each of the hands. The hands can then be played out one at a time.
You can also choose to “double down”. In this case, you double your original bet and are dealt an additional card. After doing this, you can no longer hit your hand anymore.
In some casinos, you can “surrender” instead of going bust. If this option is available, you will lose half your bet but keep the remainder.
If the dealer has an ace as his face up card, you can “take insurance”. In this case, you place a 2nd bet that’s half the size of your first bet in the “insurance” space on the table. If the dealer has a Blackjack, this bet pays out at 2 to 1. However, if the dealer doesn’t, you lose the bet.
The way you signal your decision to the dealer depends on the type of game you’re playing. If you’re playing with the cards face down, you’re permitted to touch the cards. However, you must only hold them in one hand. To hit, you must scrape your cards on the table. To stand, you must slide your cards underneath your bet. If you’re playing with the cards face up, you’re not allowed to touch the cards. Instead, you must point at the table to hit, or wave your hand over the cards to stand.
Once all the players have played their hands, the dealer plays his. Unlike the players, however, he doesn’t get to decide what to do. The dealer’s decisions are set based on the house rules of the casino. In most cases, the dealer must hit any hand with a total of 16 or less, and stand on all hands with a total of 17 or above. Depending on the rules of the casino, the dealer may be required to hit a soft 17. When the dealer has finished playing his hand, he must reveal his cards and pay off or collect the players’ bets.
Once you understand the basic rules of Blackjack, the game is simple to play. To win the game, the total of your hand must be higher than the dealers, without going over 21. In most cases, players choose to hit a hand with 16 or less and stand any hand with 17 or more. If you follow these simple rules, you should have a good chance of winning the game.