Who doesn’t love playing Blackjack? It is the most popular table game found at casinos. Playing online blackjack, as opposed to in a casino has some pretty obvious differences. Most of us choose to play BJ online because we don’t have a casino close by. Speed of play is the biggest difference. When you are playing blackjack online and not in a casino, you don’t have to wait while the blackjack dealer shuffles the cards after every shoe. The cards also come out of the shoe and on to the table a lot faster playing at an online casino. Sure you can slow your play down, but it is easy to get caught up and start playing hands way too fast.
How to Play Blackjack
The game of blackjack is a rather simple game. The blackjack dealer deals two cards to up to 7 blackjack players. The dealer will also deal himself 2 cards as well. The first of the dealers cards is dealt dealt face down (called the hole card) and the other card is dealt face up (called the up card).
After the cards are dealt the dealer will check, before the game continues, if he or she has a “Blackjack” or a “Natural”. A Blackjack (or “21”)is the combination of two cards, one being an “Ace” and the other being a ten valued card, which could be a ten, jack, queen or king. If the dealer has blackjack, the hand will end at that point and the dealer will take all of the losing hands’ money, only players with a blackjack of their own will survive this hand with a tie (aka as a push). If the blackjack dealer’s up card is an ace, you would have the option offered to you to take “insurance” which is a second bet that is betting that the dealer does have a blackjack. This second bet, known as insurance, can be up to half of the amount of your original wager and will get paid two to one. So if the dealer actually has a blackjack you would break even in that hand.
If the dealer does not have a blackjack, he will then offer each player (starting from dealer’s left) an additional card called a “hit”. The goal of the player is to get closer to twenty one than the dealer, without going over 21. Each card is worth face value and face cards are valued at ten. Aces are counted as either one or eleven, which ever is a better count for the player. Once the player is satisfied with their point total, they will choose to “stand” (or stay) with what they have and no further cards will be added to their hand. The dealer will draw cards on a point total of 16 or less and stay on either all seventeens. At some casinos the dealer will hit on a soft seventeen (which is a hand of cards that includes an ace) giving the dealer a count of either seven or seventeen.
If a blackjack player is dealt a pair of cards with the same value (like a pair of eights), the blackjack player may choose to “split” their hand. Splitting means that the blackjack player chooses to split a pair by placing a second wager on to the betting surface that is equal to the original wager and requests the dealer to split their hand. The player would then have two hands, one could lose or both could lose. Each casino has different policies on how many times you can split a pair and if you can “double down” after splitting.
Double Down means you are placing an additional wager which is the amount of your original wager and you get only one additional card. A lot of blackjack players decide to double down on a point total of 10 or eleven and can only do so after being dealt two cards, you can not double down after taking a hit. If you chose to split aces, you may be at a casino that only allows you to take one card per ace and not have the option of hitting.
Blackjack Tips for Playing at a Casino
When you play blackjack in a casino or online, there are some things you should keep in mind and try to follow. Following a basic blackjack strategy will help you increase your odds of winning. Below are some blackjack tips for playing in a live casino.
Use a Strategy Card
I strongly suggest making your decisions at the blackjack table by using basic strategy. A Basic Strategy card can be found here. It will tell you when to hit, stay, split and double down. The blackjack strategy card will tell you what choice is best to make in any possible situation, based on odds. You will not get rich using basic strategy, but it does help you to play consistent and avoid those moments where you want to kick yourself for not playing smart.
Tip the Dealer
If you are playing at a blackjack table in a casino, it is important to remember that the blackjack dealer is a lot like a bartender or restaurant server, in the aspect that they are there serving you, entertaining you, making the game different than on the Internet or on a slot machine, making it more personable and about you. They, like bartenders and restaurant wait staff, get paid minimum wage by the casino which means they rely on tips from blackjack players to pay their rent each month. A happy blackjack dealer can definitely be worth the effort. A happy (well tipped) blackjack dealer can also push for more generous comps, or freebies from the casino, to thank you for your play.
Wait for the Next Shoe
If you approach a blackjack table and blackjack player at the table asks you to please wait until the next shoe, it really is best that you do wait for the next shoe, it is the polite thing to offer in the first place. Waiting for the next shoe simply means you are going to wait to play until after the dealer shuffles the cards.
Join the Casino Players Club
I also suggest, as you enter the casino, before you play any blackjack or any other form of gaming, you sign up for a casino players card. The players card can be usually applied for at the customer service window. You can always ask the blackjack pit boss to get you an application or at least lead you in the right direction of getting a players card. A players card is what the casino uses to monitor your play and reward you for your time spent at the casino by giving you free buffets, show tickets, hotel rooms, parking validation, sometimes cigarettes and even cash can be rewarded for your stay at the casino. It is also the casinos way of sending you personal invitations to upcoming events and other special promotions. Once you have your players card, be sure to put it in to any slot machine you play, show it to any pit boss near where you are playing and they will ensure that your action is recognized and rewarded.
Know Your Surroundings
As you sit at blackjack tables or go to the rest rooms, I would be sure to always be very aware of your surroundings, have a close grip on your assets and always be on your best behavior. The casino environment tends to draw a wide variety of characters to the gaming world. You should also be aware that the cameras are always watching and anything you do in a casino or at the blackjack table is being watched and recorded.
How to win at BlackJack
When playing blackjack, in a casino or on the Internet, just like any other game in life, we all want to win. Some claim blackjack is all about luck and no skill involved, where as there are some great mathematicians out there that swear by the math and say that the game can be beaten, with skill.
There is no doubt, blackjack is all about odds and math can calculate all of the odds involved in blackjack. The game is designed for the casino to beat you and take your money. It’s all business.
But can the game truly be beaten? For the average player, blackjack’s basic strategy is a good place to start for losing less, but no so much for winning more, it is designed to minimize your losses, to increase the amount of time you can play, before running out of chips, it is not designed to maximize your winnings, or pay your college tuition. Basic strategy cards for blackjack can be purchased on the Internet or sometimes in casino gift shops as well. It is the size of a credit card, comes with all scenarios possible and the choice to make for each of those scenarios. The strategy card is definitely worth the $3 invesment.
How about card counting? Ben Affleck does it! Well, card counting has been tried by many to make a living playing blackjack. Some have succeeded, but many card counters out there are just as frustrated with the game as they were before they learned how to count cards. First off, let’s get passed the number one misconception of card counting. Card counting is not about sitting at a blackjack table and counting each card that comes out of the shoe and remembering it, no photographic memory required for card counting. Card counting, in blackjack is basically just keeping score of ten valued cards and non ten valued cards that have came out of the shoe, you will be adding and subtracting a value from the running count as you go, only having one number to keep track of, which would be either a negative or positive number, positive number means that there are more ten valued cards remaining in the shoe than non ten valued cards. Card counters believe that when the count is at a high positive number and the odds of getting ten valued cards on the next hand are greater, that all they have to do is bet more and they will make money, it does not always work out this way. The blackjack dealer also has the same chance of getting those ten valued cards, so to me, your counting cards does not equal automatic success at beating the house at the game of blackjack. It does increase your odds, no doubt, because the ten valued cards benefit the player and the best card for the dealer is a five, so in theory, you do have a better chance when the count is higher than zero, but I believe it takes much more than that to ensure riches while playing the game of blackjack.
There are also some forms of cheating out there, that do help some blackjack players increase their chances of beating the house in the game of blackjack, but those are just that, cheating, which can lead to trouble, getting barred from that casino and not to mention the legal trouble you can get in to, depending on the method of cheating you chose.
The game of blackjack has been designed for the house to make money and for the player to have a good time spending their money, so that the casino can build bigger hotels and add more blackjack tables to choose from to spend your money. Although there are some people that have successfully beaten the casino at blackjack, I would say that the best, sure fire way to win at blackjack, is to have your own blackjack table and invite anyone who has the money to play. Keep in mind, that the edge the casino has over the player is very small, around five percent, so having only one blackjack table may not make you rich, nor ensure that you will never lose. The reason the casino does so well, is because their blackjack tables are open twenty four hours a day, every day of the year, and even more powerful than that, they have dozens of blackjack tables. So even if one blackjack table is losing money for the house for a couple of hours, there are many more tables that are making up the difference.
Good luck at the Blackjack Tables!