Blackjack Basics, Subtleties and Etiquette ♠️ The Rules of Blackjack Explained
The rules to blackjack are not as simple as some assume, due to many variants and interpretations. Also, there are house rules which can vary greatly. Yes, the most important blackjack rule is still to beat the dealer’s hand without going over 21. However, what about splitting Pairs, Doubling Down & Surrender. Also, there is blackjack insurance to consider. Read on as we will take on a journey through blackjack basics, subtleties and etiquette explaining the rules of blackjack on the way.
The Object of the Game
The primary objective in blackjack is to beat the dealer. For this to be realized, you should not go over 21.
Once players bet, the dealer will get 2 cards and each player will also receive 2 cards. One of the dealer’s cards’ which is called the “hole card” will be dealt face up.
If the dealer’s hand has an ace, he will place a side bet called “insurance.” For a 10 point hole card, side wagers pay 2 to 1. The insurance wagers, which are optional, may be lower than half the original wager.
If the hole card is an ace or a 10-point card (this is after the insurance is on the table), the dealer will peek at his card which is facing down, to see if a blackjack is present. If he has it, then he will immediately turn it over.
All wagers will fail, except the insurance, if the blackjack is on the dealer’s hand. But if the player also has a blackjack, they will be in a push. This is the point when the dealer will resolve the insurance to resolve the wagers.
Shuffle and Deal
All cards are shuffled and mixed by the dealer, who appoints one player to cut and place an insert card (plastic) to mark approximately the last 60-75 cards. These cards will not be used in the game. Once players have placed their bets, a card that is facing up is handed to each player in a clockwise manner, and the dealer will also take one card that is facing up.
The dealer goes ahead and hands in the second round of cards facing up. In this round, the dealer will take a card that is facing down. At the end of the second round, the dealer is the only one who will have one card facing down, while all the players will have two cards facing up. For games that players will only use one deck of cards, the player holds their cards that are dealt facing down. But today, almost all the blackjack games have the player’s cards facing up, and the players are not allowed to touch them.
In some games, the second card of the dealer is only drawn when each player has completed their turn, and it is the dealer’s turn to play.
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Making Your Play
The first player to play is the one on the left. This player has to decide either to “stand” (withdraw from asking for another card) or hit (ask for another card with the hope of getting close to 21 or get the exact number, 21). The player can continue to ask for more cards, until the sum of the cards reaches 21 or get close to 21, or goes past 21. If the latter occurs, the dealer will collect the waged bets and the player will lose. The dealer will then turn to the second player and repeat the same process.
If an ace and a 10-point card are present, this is called a “soft hand”, because the ace can be counted either as a 1 or 11, which allows the player either to hit or stand. For instance, if the player has a 6 and an ace (soft 17), the result will be either 7 or 17. Although 17 is a good hand, there is still room for the player to make the count to be closer to 21. If the card that is drawn creates a bust hand (ace counts as 11), then the ace will be counted as 1 by the player, which will provide room for hitting or standing.
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The Dealer's Move
Once all the players have been served, the dealer’s face-down card will be turned up. A stand will be made if the sum is 17 or more. In case the sum falls at 16 or below, the dealer will pick a card. This process will continue until the sum total is 17 or more, where the dealer will stand. If in the dealer’s hand, there is an ace that is counting as 11 to bring the sum to 17 or close to 21 or 21 itself, the ace must be counted as 11 and the dealer should stand.
For the dealer, the decisions are automatic when it comes to playing. But for the player, there are two options that are always present, picking either one or two cards
If a player holds two cards that have the same denomination like two fives or two hearts, the two cards can be treated as separate hands when the player’s turn comes around. On one of the cards, the bet’s amount will go to either of the cards, and a similar amount will be placed on the other card as a bet.
A player will make plays on one hand by hitting or standing a couple of times, and then the right hand will be played afterwards. Both hands will be treated differently as the dealer will also settle on each hand as each play turns out. If a player has two aces, a card will be given for each ace, but the player will not make another draw. Additionally, if one of the aces is dealt with a 10-point card, the bet and the payoff are equal.
A player should already know his strategy for splitting pairs before pulling up a seat at the table
If a player is dealt with two cards that add up to 9, 10, or 11, the player has another option of doubling the bet placed. When the player’s turn to play comes around, a bet that is equal to the original bet will be placed, and the dealer will offer a face-down card. This card will only be turned up when the bets are settled. In case the player has two sixes, the player may double down, split a pair, or play regularly. It is important to remember that the dealer cannot double down or split.
Once the player has placed another bet, it can exceed the limit of the table. If a double is an alternative, only one card will be dealt to the player. There won’t be an option to make another hit. Although doubling down is available on split hands, only one extra card will be dealt per hand.
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A player can pick what to do from 4 options (split, double, stand, or hit). Before making the decision, an insurance bet is an option that is available. The condition for placing an insurance occurs when the dealer has an ace as the first card. In this scenario, the dealer has the opportunity for going for blackjack, because the second card that is facing down can have a 10-point value. To insure yourself from the dealer’s blackjack, bet a value that is half the amount of the original bet. These chips are often placed in an area on the table that is labelled “insurance 2:1”.
The insurance bet can disappear if the blackjack is not on the dealer’s hand. Players will resume the play as usual. If the dealer has blackjack, the hand and the initial bet is lost. But you will have a payout of 2:1 once you win your insurance bet.
Surrender in blackjack indicates that a player can move out of the round by giving up if the player feels that the dealer clearly has a stronger hand. The advantage of yielding is that you will not lose the whole wager, you will only lose 50% of your wager after you surrender.
Ideally, the surrender rule works best when the first two cards of a player are weak, to the point that a third card will not improve the hand, increasing the chances of a player to lose the entire bet. When you get to this level, you should say the word ‘surrender’. The dealer will take your cards and you will be knocked out of the game. If you are using a blackjack simulator, there should be a button that indicates the surrender option.
There are two types of surrender, early and later surrender. For early surrender, the dealer will return half your wager without looking at the hole card, while in late surrender, the dealer will check the hole cards before your surrender is validated.