History of Blackjack
Card games, such as Blackjack and Baccarat were hugely popular in French gambling houses of the 1800s and have now spread to casinos all around the world. The earliest mention of an early version of Blackjack is from the early 17th century Spanish novel Don Quixote in which a couple of fraudsters are playing a game called Ventiuno (Spanish for 21). In this game, as opposed to the currently played version, the deck has the cards 8-10 removed. The payout for getting a blackjack was also higher than in the modern version. The name of game actually derived from those days. This is because at that time a blackjack was defined as an ace of spades paired with a black jack (be it spades or cubs).
The absolutely most popular casino table games in the today’s world are card games like Blackjack and Baccarat. In fact, the latter accounts for more than 90% of the profits of certain Asian casinos (Macau in particular). In Europe and the US, Blackjack online is more popular. Nowadays, playing blackjack is possible also on online Live casinos, where the play is against an actual person (live dealer) taking advantage of video streaming. The dealer is dealing the card in a studio for real rather than a random number generator coming up with the cards. This adds to the authenticity of casino experience online and has become very popular as of late. And with the introduction of VR Casinos online the blackjack experience could be revolutionised.
How to Play Blackjack
Blackjack is a card game where the aim is to have a higher hand than the dealer, but not going over the total of 21 point values. It’s played with normal decks of card and the game does not differentiate between the suits of the cards. The value of a card is either the point value (2-9) or 10 (for kings, queens and jacks). An ace can be either 1 or 11, whichever is better for the player.
Each player is dealt two open cards, whereas the dealer is dealt one card open and another card upside down (the hole card). The players ask for as many new cards it takes to make a hand. The best hand in the game is 10 (a 10, jack, queen or king) + an A – Blackjack!
The player goes bust if the total of hand is over 21, i.e. 22 and higher, and the dealer wins.
The player wins the hand if his standing hand is higher than the dealers or the dealer goes bust.
After all the players on the table have stood or busted the house hand is resolved by taking cards until the hand is 17 or higher or goes bust. If the player hits the blackjack, the payout is normally 3 to 2. However, some casinos payout only 6 to 5.
The basic actions of a player are the following. One can hit (take another card) or stand. Many casinos allow the player to double down, which means that the bet after two cards is doubled and only one more card is dealt. There might be restrictions on which hands the casino allows this. Usually you can only double on 9, 10 or 11.
In case the second card is of same value, the player has the option to split his hand. Splitting in blackjack allows the player to double the action on a good hand. Again, depending on the house rules, splitting two aces might be allowed or not. There might also be restrictions on double downs on the split hand.
Sometimes, the player is allowed to surrender after seeing the dealer’s open card. This way he will get half of the bet back. There is further a side bet option, when the dealer’s open card is an ace. The player can put a bet called an “insurance” on the dealer getting a blackjack. A winning bet pays 2 to 1.
Due to the rules and limited combination of actions allowed, there is always a mathematically best way to play each hand. Without cheating or counting cards, it’s not possible to get an advantage against the dealer – but; by not playing by the optimal strategy one will lose more often than is necessary.
You can usually purchase strategy cards at Casinos showing the correct play in each situation. Because different casinos have slightly different rule variations, the actual best way to play may vary a bit. One rule variation is whether or not the dealer will hit on a soft-17 (6+A).
For the player it’s usually easy to follow common sense. Obviously the changes of going bust by hitting on 20 are very high. Also not hitting on a hand that cannot go bust, makes no sense at all (9 or lower).
Blackjack Tips and Strategies
Blackjack is hugely popular especially in Europe and the US. Main reasons are no doubt that the player’s actions actually do affect the chances of winning. By playing well, you can minimize the house edge to a very small 0.4% or so, depending on the actual rules in use. For this reason, several books on the subject have been written. For most players, however, there is no reason to go and learn the intricacies of the maths behind optimum play.
Rather than calculating the odds, one can lower the house edge very close to optimal by following a Basic Blackjack Strategy. Studying a strategy card, which shows each best play on a grid based on the player’s hand and the dealer’s open card, it’s not difficult to memorize the best play by heart. If you want you can also have the strategy card at hand while playing, especially at an online casino. This strategy works very well and even if the rule variations make certain options change the correct play, the difference is minimal.
Playing with the basic strategy you will lose less, but obviously each time you play, you risk losing the money you bet. The house edge will only affect your theoretical changes in the long run. For that reason, some people can win quite handsomely in the short run even with flawed strategy. Always remember to play only with money you can actually afford to lose (Gambling Rule #1). There are limits at most online casinos that you can set for yourself, so that you cannot play more than you want to lose. Some casinos online will also let you set your own time limits to your sessions.
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