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  Blackjack Game Guide  

Game:   Blackjack
Also known as:   Vingt Et Un, Pontoon, 21
Type of game:   Card game
Game origins:   Nobody seems to know exactly where the game of Blackjack came from, most stories seem to suggest that it is a variant of other existing games. It is generally thought to have stemmed from the French game 'Chemin de Fer' or from a popular Italian game called 'Seven and a half'.
Goals of the game:   To get a dealt hand to total as close to 21 as possible without going bust in order to beat the dealers hand.
How is it played?:

(remember the rules will vary from casino to casino)
  The basics - The game does involve skill and multiple players play against the dealer and not against each other.
Game layout - The game is played around a semi-circular table with four seats. Players face the dealer and usually play a single hand, although multiple hands can be played using other table spaces. Play moves in the order from the dealer's left to the dealer's right.

Variations - The number of decks of cards used in a game varies from casino to casino (but is usually 2 decks or over).

Card Values - Aces count as being either 1 or 11 depending on player preference. Jacks, Queens and Kings are all counted as being 10. All other cards are taken at face value. Jokers are not included.

Pay out rates - If a player beats the dealer they usually receive double their original stake (i.e. 2:1). If a player gets dealt a an Ace and a picture card or 10 they have a Blackjack (aka 'Natural'). A 'Blackjack' ordinarily wins the player an instant 3:2 payout.

Betting - Players place their bet at the beginning of a round in the circle in front of them. If they do not enter a bet they do not take part in the round.

Dealing - All players and the dealer are dealt 2 cards in a rotational pattern. Players can look at their cards, but only one of the dealer's cards is dealt face up. Here is where the game starts to get interesting! Players assess the hand they have been dealt and have a choice to make.

Player options - Players need to get as close to 21 as possible in order to beat the dealer's hand. After the first two cards have been dealt players can choose to 'Hit' (i.e. be dealt) further cards to increase their totals. Players 'Stand' when they have the best hand without risking going bust. If at anytime a player goes 'Bust' (i.e. total over 21) they lose their bet to the dealer.

Doubling - Players can also choose to 'Double down' (aka 'Buying another card') by doubling their original stake and receiving another card, which is then added to the total. If the player Busts they lose their entire stake, otherwise the game continues as before. Some casinos only allow 'Doubling' when the original hand totals 9, 10 or 11 (but not when one card is an Ace) to protect the player from poor decisions.

Splitting - If the both initial two cards dealt have the same face value, the player can 'split' them by seperating them and doubling their stake (one stake on each card). They are then dealt a second card for each initial card, from here on each pile of cards is treated as a seperate hand.

Insurance - Once the initial cards have been dealt, if the dealer's hand displays an Ace players are given the option to take an Insurance bet. An Insurance bet allows the player to stake a bet that the dealer has a Blackjack, if true the player generally receives a pay-out of 2:1. It is rarely true that this is the case and as such this is rarely a recommended bet for a player to take.

Surrender - In some casinos around the world players can 'surrender' conceding half their stake and saving the other half.

The dealer's hand - Once all players have chosen to Stick, the dealer 'hits' further cards to their hand and then 'sticks'. The dealer will either stick at a total equal to or under 21. If the dealer Busts all non-Bust players win double their stake back.

Win or lose - If a player's cards total more than the dealer's or the dealer busts they get paid. If the delaer and the player have equal totals they 'Push' and neither dealer or player wins and bets stay in tact. If the player busts or has a lesser total than the dealer they lose their bet.

Repeat - Once pay-outs have been made the next round can start and the game continues!
Top tips:  
  • A simple tip is to consider the dealer's face down card to have a face value of 10 (as there are more 10's than anything else in the shoe) and bet to beat that total.

  • Players can get a 'legal' advantage in this game by mentally keeping a record of which cards have passed (e.g. how many 10's have come and gone) in order to reconsider the likelyhood fo getting a high face value card. This practice is generally frowned upon by casinos though.

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