If you’ve never taken a seat at a real-life blackjack table, you’re missing out on a real treat! Even if you’ve tried your hand at the online version, nothing comes close to the experience of a buzzing casino floor.
That said, getting to grips with your first real-life casino experience can also be quite daunting. If you’ve never played a hand of blackjack in your life, you’ll wonder whether you’re ready to take the plunge. Truth is, we all have to start somewhere – so why not right now?
The good news is that as far as classic casino table games are concerned, none are simpler or more enjoyable to dive into than blackjack. Even if you’ve no experience or knowledge of the game whatsoever, there’s nothing stopping you taking a seat and getting involved.
It’s simply a case of familiarising yourself with the basics, so you know what to expect.
The Basic Rules of Blackjack
There are hundreds of weird and wonderful different types of blackjack, but sticking with the traditional ‘untainted’ version is the way to go. All over the world, the rules of blackjack remain the same and are incredibly easy to pick up.
In the simplest and briefest terms possible, here’s how the action plays out:
1 – Bets are placed
Prior to being dealt in, you’ll be required to place whatever wager you see fit. Every poker table will have a minimum amount that needs to be wagered to join the game, so be sure to choose the table that suits your bankroll. You can wager more if you like, but at this stage you have absolutely no idea what’s going to happen next. So it’s simply a case of trying your luck and considering how much you can risk, trying not to get too carried away as a beginner.
2 – A card is dealt
Every player who joins the game by placing a wager is given a card by the dealer. The card remains face-down and can be looked at by the player, though must be kept hidden from the dealer’s view.
3 – The dealer receives a card
When every player has been dealt a card, one card is dealt to the dealer. The difference being that this card is placed on the table face-up, so that everyone can see the card the dealer has. This can then be used to begin making decisions as to what to do next.
4 – Another card is dealt
Each of the players is then dealt a second card. The total value of the two cards will give you an indication as to whether you should request another card when the time comes, or stick with your current hand. Again, in relation to your own cards and the card the dealer has been dealt.
5 – Further cards are dealt
Each player then has the opportunity to request additional cards, one at a time. With each card that’s dealt, the player can either request another card or stick with the cards they have and their collective total value. However, if the total value of the cards dealt to the player exceeds 21, the player goes ‘bust’ and is out of the game.
6 – Additional cards are dealt for the dealer
When every player in the game has decided to stick with their total or has exceeded 21 and gone bust, the dealer is dealt additional cards in the same way. They have the option of sticking once their total hand value reaches 17 or more, though can choose to continue to get as close to 21 as possible.
7 – All hands are revealed
When the dealer sticks, all hands are revealed and those who beat the dealer’s hand are paid a prize accordingly. If the dealer’s hand comes closer to 21 than yours, you forfeit your wager.
There are more complex rules regarding the various different combinations of cards that can be used to hit 21, but these are the basics you’ll need to know to get started.
Three Simple Tips to Improve Your Game
Blackjack is one of very few casino games where skill, logic and intuition can play an important role. In fact, it’s technically possible to tip the odds significantly in your favour and take the house for a ride. A technique known as ‘card counting’ provides players with significant advantage – precisely why it’s an outlawed practice in casinos worldwide.
In any case, you’d need to dedicate your entire life to blackjack to reach these kinds of levels. Assuming you’re more of a casual player, it’s better to focus on the simpler tips and techniques for improving your game.
So once you’ve familiarised yourself with the basics of blackjack, here are three useful tips to help steer your decisions in the right direction:
1 – Don’t always aim for 21
21 is of course the magic number, but you can’t expect to hit it every time. And nor should you attempt to, given the actual odds of reaching exactly 21 aren’t particularly high. Always remember that the closer you get to 21, the smaller your margin for error becomes. In addition, given that the vast majority of players set their sights squarely on 21, you’ve a strong chance of winning with say 18 or 19 as their risk of going bust is higher than yours.
2 – Try to beat the dealer
Attempting to beat the dealer is of course the aim of the game. But it’s worth remembering that the dealer may be required to stick or accept another card in accordance with the rules of the house. For example, they may be required to take another card if their score is lower than 16, or stick on a score of 18 or higher. This information can be used to help guide your decision when you see the first card the dealer is dealt – you may not have to worry too much about hitting 21.
3 – Pay attention at all times
Last but not least, blackjack is a game where practice (almost) makes perfect. The more you play, the better you’ll be able to understand the basics of probability and how to base your decisions on what’s happening at the time. So rather than simply asking for cards or sticking at random, make informed decisions based on logic, intuition and past experiences at the table.