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Before you’re ready to embark on a blackjack career filled with almost unlimited fame and fortune, we’d better start off with the basics. Blackjack (also called 21) is a game of skill that pits opponents against the dealer to see who can get the closest to 21 without going over. Each of the players seated at the table receive one card face up while the dealer takes his face down, and then a second round of cards are handed out to everyone (including the dealer) face up.
I guess you’ll need to know the point values of each card before we get too far into this so here we go; numerical cards are worth face value, picture cards are worth 10, and aces are worth either one or eleven. If you’re dealt an ace and a ten (or any face card) right off the bat the hand is called blackjack, and casinos automatically pay between 2:1 and 3:2 depending on where you’re playing at.
If the dealer starts with an ace showing then you’re offered insurance against him having blackjack; this wager is equal to your original bet and it pays two to one. That means if the dealer does have blackjack then you break even and if he doesn’t then you’re playing to break even (or to lose double your original wager), which is why we do not recommend taking insurance at all.
How to Interpret Hands
Your job is very simple; estimate what the dealer’s hand is by looking at his revealed card and then play your hand accordingly. If he appears to have you beat then you’d take a hit in most situations, if his hand looks weak then you may be better off standing (even if your hand is lousy as well). In some situations you may also decide to split two similar cards or to double down on a hand equaling 9, 10, or 11, but there are also situations where that is not advised.
How the Dealer Plays
A couple more things before we move on; let’s talk about the dealer for a moment. If his hand is 16 or lower he has to take another card, and if his hand is 17 or higher then he is forced to stay with what he already has. Some casinos offer variations to these rules but it’s probably a good idea for you to avoid them for now; the overall odds of winning are always best with classic the blackjack version.
Since you’re new to the game it’s nowhere near time to start talking about advanced betting strategies or card counting; your first job is to simply know when to hit and when to stand, double, or split. The chart below is the strategy we currently use but do not worry about memorizing it for now, most casinos sell pocket cards with similar strategies printed on them.
Basic Betting Strategy
Since you’re not counting cards quite yet, you should probably start with betting the table minimum and pretty much stick to it regardless of each hand’s outcome. Once you get more comfortable with the wagers and you’re ready for an advanced tutorial, however, be sure to come back and check out our advice for intermediate and professional blackjack players as well.