For those interested in the origins of blackjack, the game supposedly dates back to the 18th century. Namely, it is believed that the game Vignt-et-un is blackjack’s predecessor as the term translates into “twenty-one”. Additionally, many experts claim that blackjack was actually derived from two French card games – French Ferme and Chemin de Fer. Reportedly, French colonists brought the game to the Americans, where it got the name 21. Whatever the case was back then, today blackjack has become an inseparable part of both land-based and online casinos.
Gameplay of Blackjack
Everyone knows that blackjack is a card game played with one or more standard deck of cards. The point of the game is to score 21 or get as close as possible to the hand count. Nonetheless, blackjack is much more than this as the game comes in many variants and with numerous side-betting options. Yet, the gameplay of all those variants is pretty much identical.
First, both the player and the dealer get two cards. In most variants, the player gets face-up cards, while the dealer gets one face-up and one face-down card. At this point, the player gets to resolve their hand by deciding what action to take. In case they go bust (over 21) the dealer automatically wins, and the game is over. In case they successfully resolve their hand and stand, it’s the dealer’s turn.
The dealer follows a set of predetermined rules to decide whether to stand or hit. Similarly, if the dealer goes bust, the player wins, and the game is over. Otherwise, they compare their hands to see who comes closer to the hand count of 21.
Card Values in Blackjack
Since the hand count is crucial in blackjack, it’s important to know the card values when playing this game. So, cards from 2 to 10 have their respective face value. Face cards i.e. Js, Qs and Ks have a value of 10, while Aces have a value of either 1 or 11. Whenever the Ace is counted as 11, it helps creating the so-called “soft” hands. To illustrate, if you have a soft 18, this means that you hold an Ace and a 7 i.e. 11 +7 equals 18.
Blackjack Playing Actions Explained
As we already mentioned, after the player and the dealer get their initial two cards, the player gets to resolve their hand. At this point, they can do one of five possible moves: stand, hit, double down, split or surrender. The first action – to stand – refers to doing nothing and yet staying in the game. Namely, usually, if you have a high hand count and don’t want to risk going bust, you can simply stand and wait to see what happens.
The other option is to hit i.e. to request another card. Players decide to hit when their hand count is quite low and have no chance of winning without an additional card. Doubling down is identical to hitting with the player doubling their bet along the way. This is a risky move, which can prove very profitable if made at the right time. Splitting cards is another option blackjack players have when they receive two cards with identical face value i.e. two tens or two fives.
Finally, we get to surrendering i.e. handing over the win to the dealer. If you wonder why anyone would do that, keep in mind that most blackjack variants return at least half the initial bet to players who surrender. Yet, the surrender option is not always offered.
Unlike the player, who generally has freedom to decide what to do, the dealer has to follow certain rules. Therefore, depending on their hand count, the dealer either stands or hits. Naturally, before doing their move, the dealer first reveals their hole card in order to check the count. Most blackjack variants would require hitting on soft 17 and standing on hard 17. Once again, we highlight that the exact rules may vary on different blackjack games and hence players need to read the rules before playing.
Blackjack Bets and Payouts
The basic blackjack bet is the initial bet you place in order to enter the game. How much you win from that bet depends on the game’s final score. So, scoring a blackjack will win you double your money i.e. 2:1. On the other hand, if the dealer’s hand goes bust, then you’ll get even money i.e. 1:1 payout. As we mentioned before, some variants allow you to surrender in order to get half your bet back.
However, blackjack is fun as it has many side-betting options too. Therefore, players can place the terrible insurance bet. This bet pays 2:1 i.e. double money. Nonetheless, it has very high house edge and experienced players always avoid it. Another interesting option is the Perfect Pairs bet. Namely, depending on whether you get a pair of a matching suit and/or colour, you can expect generous payouts from 5:1 to 30:1.