In terms of popularity, it’s only behind Twenty-One. The game’s rules are straightforward, but the action is fast-paced, and there’s potential for strategic manoeuvres. In truth, the odds of winning are occasionally to the advantage of the experienced player who mathematically plays a perfect game and can count cards.
However, even for the casual player who plays a decent game, the casino odds are lower, making Blackjack one of the most appealing casino games. While Blackjack became popular during World War I, its origins may be traced back to the 1760s in France, known as Vingt-et-Un (French for 21). Blackjack is now the only card game available in every American casino. It is played with somewhat altered rules as a popular home game. The house is the dealer in the casino version (a “permanent bank”). The dealer in a casino game remains standing while the players are seated. From shuffling and dealing the cards to processing all bets, the dealer commands all parts of the game. In the home game, every player has the chance to be the dealer (a “changing bank”).
In most casinos, instead of the traditional 52-card pack, several decks of cards are jumbled together. Playing six decks of cards is the most preferred option (312 cards). When there are four or more decks, they are dealt from a shoe (a box that allows the dealer to remove cards one at a time, face down, without holding one or more packs). The dealer also uses a blank plastic card, which is never dealt with but is put towards the bottom of the pack to indicate when it is time to reshuffle the cards.
THE GAME’S OBJECTIVE
Each player tries to outscore the dealer by obtaining as close to 21 as possible without exceeding it.
SCORING AND CARD VALUES
Each player decides whether an ace is worth 1 or 11. Its pip value is equivalent to the face cards.
Each player places a chip stake in the designated location in front of them. The betting has a minimum and maximum limitations, with general limits ranging from $2 to $500.
THE CUT AND SHUFFLE
Cutter: The dealer selects a player to be the cutter from the group of players, and the plastic insert card is put such that the last 60 to 75 cards are not utilised. (It’s more difficult for professional card counters to operate properly if they don’t deal with the bottom of all the cards.) The dealer shuffles pieces of the pack extensively until all of the cards have been mingled and blended.
After that, the dealer hands one card face up to each player in a clockwise rotation, followed by one card face up to themselves. The dealer then deals another round of cards faces up to each player, but the dealer keeps the second card face down. Each player, except the dealer, is dealt two cards face up, while the dealer is dealt one card face up and one card face down. (In certain single-deck games, the players’ cards are dealt face down and allowed to keep them.) Today, almost all Blackjack games have the players’ cards dealt face up, and no one can touch any of the cards.)
A natural or “blackjack” occurs when a player’s first two cards are an ace and a “ten-card” (a picture card or 10) for a total of 21 in two cards. If any player has a natural but the dealer does not, the dealer pays that player one and a half times their stake right away. If the dealer has a natural, all players who do not have naturals have their bets collected instantly (but no additional amount). As long as both the dealer and another player have naturals, they get back all of their money.
If the dealer’s face-up card is a ten or an ace, they check their face-down card to see if the two cards combine to form a natural. They don’t look at the face-down card until it’s the dealer’s turn to play if the face-up card isn’t a ten or an ace.
It is up to the player on the left to “stand” first (i.e., not ask for another card) or “hit” (i.e., ask for another card) (ask for another card in an attempt to get closer to a count of 21, or even hit 21 exactly). Thus, a player may either stand on the two cards handed to them initially, or ask the dealer for additional cards one at a time until opting to stand on the total (if it is 21 or less), or go “bust” (if it is over 21). The player loses in the latter instance, and the dealer collects the wager. After that, the dealer moves to the next player on their left and serves them similarly.
Soft hands are made up of Aces and non-ten-cards, which can be counted either as a one or an 11 and drawn or not drawn, depending on the player’s preference. “17 soft” (an ace and a 6) has a total of 7 or 17. A count of 17 is a decent hand, but the player might draw for a greater whole. If the draw considers the ace as an 11 and creates a bust hand, the player counts the ace as a one and continues playing by standing or “hitting” (asking the dealer for additional cards, one at a time).
THE GAME OF THE DEALER
The dealer’s face-down card is turned up after each player has been served. It must stand if the total is 17 or higher. They must take a card if the capacity is less than 16. The dealer must keep taking cards until the total reaches 17 or more, at which point they must stand. It might be possible for the dealer to count an ace as an 11 and so increase the total to 17 or more (but not more than 21), the dealer must stand. On all plays, the dealer’s decisions are automated, but the player always can take one or more cards.