Blackjack Basics: Getting Started at the Table

Blackjack Basics: Getting Started at the Table

Blackjack is one of the most popular table games at casinos worldwide, and is fairly unique in that it is one of the only opportunities for a player to stand on nearly equal footing with the house. Using the advanced strategies that enable the successes of the game’s savviest players starts with a basic understanding of the rules, and you can find a place to hone your skills with this list of the most trusted online gambling sites.

Standard Blackjack

A game of standard blackjack gives the player the goal of acquiring a hand with a total higher than the dealer’s hand without going over 21, with numerical cards representing their standard values, face cards equaling 10 and an ace serving as either a 1 or 11 at the player’s discretion. Players who are dealt a “natural blackjack,” or an ace and a 10, automatically win 1.5 times the original bet unless the dealer also draws a natural blackjack, in which case the hand is a “push” and the bet is refunded.

Blackjack Basics

When cards have been dealt to all players at the table, the dealer will turn to the player immediately to his left to begin play. The player will decide whether to “hit”, taking as many additional cards as necessary to bring the hand total closer to 21, or “stand” with the cards dealt. If the player’s hand exceeds a total of 21, the hand and bet are automatically lost and this is known as a “bust”. The dealer can also hit his own hand to total 21, but busts as well by going over 21 and usually must hit until his total is 16 or more.

Another possible option within a hand of blackjack is for a player to “double down” his hand, placing an amount equivalent to the original bet next to your wager to double the potential winnings in exchange for the limitation of drawing one card only. Players can also split pairs of identical cards as a first move to form two separate hands played individually.

Las Vegas Rules

Casinos in Las Vegas commonly play a different variation of the game than is popular elsewhere in the world. Las Vegas blackjack games are played on a semi-circular table with 5 to 7 players seated along the rounded edge and the dealer standing behind the straight edge. Las Vegas rules include the option of buying “insurance,” which can cost the player up to half of the original wager, but pays out 2 to 1 if the dealer deals himself a natural blackjack. Las Vegas casinos also have defined policies governing whether dealers hit or stand on hands totaling 17, and the individual casino’s policy will be prominently posted in the area of the table.