How to play Blackjack online. As they say, you will never know about something you learn it. This simply shows that until you make out time to learn about something, you can never tell how it works.
You may speculate about it, assuming the worst, without knowing there’s nothing to worry about.
This is exactly the way it is with how some individuals view the game of Blackjack.
Blackjack is a table as well as a card game. It is not the only game played with cards, mind you, but it is one of the best because it is simple, exciting, and practical.
Blackjack is simple because it is easy to understand and play. It is exciting because it is filled with suspense: no one can tell the outcome of a hand.
Finally, Blackjack is a practical game, which must be played to win or lose.
Many people stay away from Blackjack because they believe it is a difficult game, which requires a lot of tactics to be played.
Well, in as much as they may not be wrong about the game requiring strategies, they are not correct about it being difficult to play. By the time you are done with this guide, you will not desire to play any other game but Blackjack.
This guide will break down the game in a way you will understand how it is played. Here, you will learn the terms related to Blackjack, the layout of the table, how to count the cards, the different basic rules of the game, and the steps to follow to play the game.
This guide is going to be a one-stop-shop on how to play Blackjack as a beginner.
Everything you need to know about the game is contained here.
Why You Should Play Blackjack
So many things discourage people from playing Blackjack. The name of the game alone makes some people think playing the game is a big deal.
But, once they play it, they will discover how friendly and easygoing the game is. If you are wondering why you should play Blackjack, here are some things you should know:
a. Blackjack is easy to play. As stated earlier, this game isn’t as difficult as a lot of people assume. You will soon see that it is the simplest card game to play.
I mean, you don’t have to worry about the right kind of bets as seen in Roulette or what the dice outcome means, as you would do in Craps. Here, you only worry about the total value of your cards.
It only requires little arithmetic skills from you. That’s all.
b. You will only focus on the dealer. What this means is that the business at the table is between you and the dealer. Other players may or may not be there as far as you are concerned; you have nothing to do with them. So, you don’t have to worry about other players this time.
c. The outcome of other players does not affect yours. All of you can win and all of you can lose. That someone else on the table won does not mean you too will not win in that round. You will understand why it is so as you continue reading.
d. The table is not rowdy. The game, in most cases, does not admit more than five to seven players per table. Because of this, you will have a chance, as a beginner, to play Blackjack without feeling like an amateur.
No one will make you feel bad or embarrassed if you don’t know what to do next. Besides, with the small number of players on the table, the dealer will have time to assist you.
e. No one will cheat you. It is actually difficult for anyone to be cheated in this game. To start with, you only play against the dealer and he is standing right there before you, with everything done in the open.
So it is almost impossible to cheat anyone there.
f. You don’t have to be a professional to play the game. To a large extent, Blackjack is a game of chance.
It is under probability that you will receive the right kind of cards that will make you win. Nevertheless, you still have some control over how the game turns out.
g. Blackjack is loaded with excitement. The table may not be rowdy and crowded but the game is thrilling because of the suspense that accompanies card dealing.
Remember, you don’t know the card you will receive and, since the outcome depends on the cards, you will anxiously wait for your cards to come.
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Things to Remember and Do
As you sit down to play or observe this game, you need to understand some of the things happening around the table and bear them in mind. That way, you can avoid mistakes and enjoy the game.
1. There is no position in the sitting arrangement. This is to say that sitting at the first, second, or fifth chair at the table does not affect the game or influence its outcome.
The cards are shuffled and reshuffled once the deck goes down, so no one can tell the card that will come up first, second, and so on.
Hence, find a seat and position you find more comfortable and enjoy the game. But, you may avoid the first seat from the left of the dealer. You will know the reason in the next item.
2. The dealer starts dealing cards from the first seat at his left because he is supposed to deal clockwise.
After dealing cards, he starts the game from the player on the left too. Until he is through with that player, he will not move to the next one.
This is why you may need to take the third, fourth, or last seat, if applicable since this is your first Blackjack game. At least, before the dealer comes to you, you would have learnt a thing or two from the other players.
3. You are not affected by the presence of other players on the table. The dealer will attend to every player individually so the presence of the others will not determine the outcome of the game.
Remember, you are betting against the dealer and not the other players. If the total value of your cards is higher than that of the dealer but not more than 21, you will win. What other players have does not affect you. Always remember this.
4. As a beginner, I will advise you to bet low. Each table has a betting limit so go for the one within your budget.
You should also go to casinos that accept low bets. It is only in such casinos that you can find tables that will accept low bets.
5. There is always a placard on the table to indicate the minimum and maximum bet limits. If the table doesn’t have one, ask the dealer to supply you with the information before you settle in to play.
Also, let the dealer know your planned bets so he will give you the appropriate chips.
6. Always remember that playing this game is a form of gambling. With that in mind, you should know there is no guarantee you will win back the amount you wagered.
This is one major reason you should bet low. It is advisable to bet the amount you are willing to lose. That way, you won’t be a sore loser.
7. If the dealer uses some terms unknown to you, feel free to ask him the meaning. Remember you are just a beginner, who has taken a bold step into a new exciting world. So, don’t feel awkward while asking for explanations to terms you are not sure of their meanings.
8. The game of Blackjack involves a lot of hand signs. You will learn those signs and their uses within this article.
The dealer will prefer you use these signs during the game so the cameras can capture them for accountability’s sake.
9. You should go ahead and download free online Blackjack games so you can play privately to get yourself ready for the game in a live casino.
This does not mean you will play like an expert when you try it in a live casino but it will make you feel more confident.
10. Don’t play this game just because you want to win and make money. Truly, every player wants to win prizes from the game, but that shouldn’t be your utmost interest. Try to have fun too. Let the winnings be part of the fun.
Objectives of Blackjack
The primary goal of the game of Blackjack is to beat the dealer. Remember, the ‘war’ is between you and the dealer. But, let’s look at how you can beat or lose to the dealer.
a. Remember, your intention in this game is to have a hand value that is 21 or as close to 21 as possible. But, if the value goes beyond 21, you will ‘bust’ and the dealer will win.
So, do your best to keep the total of your cards from going over 21. This is why this game is also “21”.
b. Here is something else you should know. Your objective should not just be to get as close to 21 as possible but also to have a hand value that is higher than that of the dealer without busting.
For instance, if your hand value is 18 and that of the dealer is 17, you will win even though it is not up to 21. But, if it is the other way around, that is, the dealer’s hand value is 18 while yours is 17, you will lose while he wins.
c. You will also win this game if the dealer busts while you didn’t. This happens if the dealer draws a hand value that is greater than 21.
So, when the dealer loses, you win. When he wins, you lose. Remember, a dealer may lose to another player but still win in your case.
d. If the total of the first two cards the dealer dealt you is 21, you will win. This is known as Blackjack or the Natural.
This can only happen if you received a 10-value card and an Ace, which you converted to 11. However, if the dealer also has a Blackjack, the game is a tie. This means you neither won nor lost.
Know Your Cards
One of the major things you should know before playing this game is the name for each card and its value. But, let’s start by learning the game cards based on their symbols.
a. Every standard pack or deck of cards contains 52 cards.
b. The 52 cards are broadly divided into four groups or suits. These are Clubs, Spades, Hearts, and Diamonds.
You can tell them by the shape of the symbols on them and their colours. Hearts and Diamonds are coloured red while Clubs and Spades are painted black.
Note that grouping the cards into these broad categories does not affect the game in any way. What matters most is the ranking or values of the cards.
c. Each group or suit of cards is made up of 13 cards of different values. This is to say that 13 cards have the spade symbols, another 13 have the hearts, and so on.
d. In each suite, there are three face or court cards, one Ace card, and nine number cards. The face cards are the King, Queen, and Jack while the number cards are numbered 2 to 10.
You can tell the value of a number card by the Arabic number written at the top left and bottom right parts of the card as well as by counting the number of the symbols drawn at its centre.
e. An Ace card contains one symbol of its suit drawn on its middle and the letter ‘A’ written at the top and bottom.
In some cases, the symbol on the Ace of Spades is different from that of the others in the suit. But you shouldn’t worry because you can tell an Ace card once you see one.
f. The joker is not used in the game of Blackjack, so don’t expect it.
Counting the Cards Value
Now that you can identify each card, it is time to learn their values. Trust me, it is not difficult at all.
i. For the numbered cards, each card is valued according to the number written on it. For instance, a card with the number ‘10’ written on it is worth 10. If ‘2’ is written, it is worth 2.
So, when summing up your cards’ values, count each numbered card according to the number it bears.
ii. Face cards are worth 10 each. So, if you get a King, a Queen, or a Jack, irrespective of the suit it belongs to, you should count it as 10.
iii. The Ace is the card with the highest and lowest value. It can be counted as 11 or 1, depending on the player’s decision.
If counting the card as 1 will make you win, do so. If number 11 is what you need to win, you can count your Ace as 11.
The Blackjack Table Layout
The Blackjack table is quite simple but you need to understand the images drawn on it. The table is semicircular and built to accommodate the number of players it is intended for.
You can tell how many players that can use a table by the number of betting circles, rectangles, or squares (sometimes, the casino’s logo) on it. Each player has his or her own betting space.
So, if you see five shapes, for instance, the table is meant for five players. Note that it is only the chips placed within these betting shapes that the dealer acknowledges.
The dealer also places the cards beside the chips on those betting spaces.
On the left-hand side of the dealer is the ‘shoe’, which is used for keeping shuffled cards. Directly in front of him is the tray for storing chips.
It is from there that he will remove the chips he will give you and where he keeps them when he collects losing bets from you.
The small container on his right-hand side is the ‘discard tray’. It is used for keeping used cards until it is time to reshuffle and keep them in the shoe.
a. Never keep your cash or the chips you are not betting close to or on the circle. The dealer may assume they are bets.
b. Make use of the betting space that corresponds with your sitting position.
Understanding Blackjack Terms
Here, you will learn the basic terms and decisions associated with Blackjack, which you need to know and understand before you can play this game very well.
a. To deal a card: This simply refers to when the dealer distributes and/or gives cards to players. In this game, cards are passed to players face-up.
b. Active players: When you hear this term, it simply refers to the players that have wagered in the current round of the game.
c. Hand(s): This is used synonymously with rounds of the game (e.g. “this hand”), cards (“your hand”), and game (“your hand”).
Anytime you hear “hand” in this game, just know it is not about your physical hand butd the game and the cards.
d. To bust: This is the term used to signify that a player or a dealer has collected more cards so that the total value of his or her hand (that is, cards) is more than 21.
Note that it is impossible to bust with the first two cards dealt you because the highest value cards are the Aces, which can be counted as 11 or 1.
So, if you received two Aces on the first deal, you can split it (you will find out how soon) or count one of them as 1. However, splitting is the usual thing to do. Nevertheless, you have to be careful while collecting cards to avoid busting.
e. Blackjack: This is sometimes referred to as “The Natural”. It is a term used to describe the situation whereby the total value of your cards equals 21 because you received an Ace and a 10-value card.
If you have a Blackjack, and the dealer does not, your payout is 3 to 2. That is, you will receive 1.5 times your original bet. But, if the dealer has a Blackjack, it will become a tie.
f. Up-Card and Down-Card: This is also referred to as the ‘Face-Up Card’. When a dealer deals cards, only one of his is faced up.
This is the card that is known as “up-card”. His card that lies face down is known as ‘Down-Card’
g. Insurance: This is a side-bet players wager to predict the dealer will have a Blackjack. This bet is usually placed when the dealer’s up-card is a 10-value card or an Ace.
If you have a Blackjack, for instance, the dealer may ask you to buy insurance so that you will win a prize if his hand turns out a Blackjack too.
To buy insurance, the interested players will have to wager half of their original bets. If it turns out the dealer has a Blackjack, all the players that wagered will win double the amount they bet as insurance.
However, if you have a Blackjack and were asked by the dealer to buy insurance, turn it down. You have nothing to lose whether he has it or not. Besides, chances are he won’t it.
h. Push: This occurs when you and the dealer have a tie (you neither lost nor won). It doesn’t matter the value, so long as you both have the same value, and he cannot ‘hit again’, it is a ‘push’. This means your bet will remain in place for the next round or you can remove it.
i. Reshuffling: Dealers don’t usually reshuffle cards after every round. When a dealer gathers players’ cards, after settling bets, he keeps them facing upwards in the discard tray. When it is time to reshuffle, he gathers the used cards, reshuffles them, and returns them to the shoe.
j. Stand: This is used by a player to indicate that he or she no longer wants another card. For instance, when a dealer deals you the first two cards and you don’t want to collect more, you will indicate, with a signal, that you no longer need more cards.
Remember the dealer will not come back to you after you have taken a decision. So be sure before you send him along.
You will get the hand signals for this and other decisions later in the guide.
k. Hit: This refers to when players demand more cards. You are free to hit again and again until you bust, get to 21, or decide to stand.
One of the commonest mistakes players make is drawing cards because they want to attain 21. This can make them bust.
l. Double-Down: When you notice the total value of your cards can be improved by the addition of only one card, you can double down.
To do this, you will have to wager an amount equivalent to your original bet. You will keep the extra chip(s) beside the original one before the dealer gives you the card.
You will not receive more than one card here. The card will, however, be given to you facedown.
m. Split: This is used to describe where a player ‘splits’ his cards to play two hands. A player can split his hands if the first two cards he received have the same value.
For instance, if the two cards are the number 2 cards of spades and diamonds, the Ace of Hearts and the Ace of Clubs, or the King of hearts and the Queen of diamonds, the player can split them.
He can also split a number 10 card and a face card. So long as the cards have the same value, irrespective of the suit they belong to, the player may decide to ask for a split. Note that the player does not split the hands by himself.
He has to signal the dealer, who separates the cards, places them side by side, and then asks the player to wager another bet that is equivalent to the original one.
It is until the player wagers again that the dealer deals another card on each of the split hands.
n. Splitting Aces: If the cards you are splitting are Aces, the dealer will only deal you a card. If one or both of the new cards you received are Aces too, you can split them again and receive another new card(s).
But he will only give you one card. Nevertheless, if the split is for other cards, you can hit, stand, double down, or split again, if that is applicable.
o. Surrender: This is done when you don’t like your initial hand and want to give up the game. Here, you will be given back half of your original wager.
Steps to Playing the Game
We are finally here. Of course, you must have discovered all the game of Blackjack entails by now. For instance, you already discovered the cards and their values.
You can now tell the various decisions you have to make after the dealer has dealt you the cards. You also have a number of things to bear in mind as you play the game.
So, you can actually play the game now. Nevertheless, let us go through the steps you have to follow before and during the game.
Step 1: Leaving for the Casino
The first step you will take here is making up your mind to play Blackjack. When you finally decide to play, you should remember to do the following:
a. Set a budget. Remember there’s no guarantee you will win back any percentage of your wager. So, make up your mind on how much you will spend and the bet limit you will set for yourself so the money can be stretched for as long as possible.
b. Keep your credit card at home. If you leave with it, you will be tempted to spend more than you budgeted.
c. Be intentional about having fun. If you are going to the casino to make money, you may come back angry and disappointed.
Go there because you want to relax, get excited, laugh a little, and make new friends. If you make money along the line, good; if you don’t, that’s still good.
d. Prepare your mind to lose some money so you can bear the loss. Remember, this game, to a large extent, is a game of chance. Many articles may try to teach you how to guess the upcoming cards but they will still tell you the strategies won’t work 100%.
However, you can go ahead and read them but they shouldn’t stop you from being ready to lose some money.
Step 2: Find a Suitable Casino
You must have found a good casino by now but let’s assume you haven’t. That means this is the time to find one. Remember to go for a casino that suits your budget.
Step 3: Find a Table
When you go into the casino, find a Blackjack table that has a vacant seat. You can determine this by counting the betting spaces and the people seated or the bets placed on the table. If you are unsure, ask the dealer.
Hopefully, he will answer your questions. Furthermore, remember to go for a table that has maximum and minimum betting limits within your budget.
You can find this information on a sign placed on the table. If you sit at the wrong table, you will be forced to spend all the money you came with after a few hands. You may also feel embarrassed when you mention a bet that is below the table’s limit.
Step 4: Find a Seat
After you locate a table that suits your budget, the next thing to do is to find a seat. Remember to sit wherever you are comfortable with, that is, if it is not occupied.
But, as mentioned earlier, you shouldn’t sit on the first or second seat since you are a beginner. The reason for this is that you need to observe what is happening at the table before the dealer comes to you.
Step 5: Change your Money into Chips
After sitting at the table, the next thing to do is to buy your chips. If there is a game going on when you sat down, you have to wait for it to finish before calling the attention of the dealer. When the current hand has finished and the dealer has cleared the table of chips and cards, it is time to key into the next hand.
You do this by dropping cash on the table and saying, “Change, please”. Remember not to place your money on the betting circle or square so the dealer doesn’t assume you are making a cash bet.
Don’t hand the money directly to the dealer because he is forbidden from collecting money directly from players. You have to keep the money on the table, from where he will collect it, spread it as he counts it, and announces the amount.
After that, the supervisor will come to see and verify the amount before the chips are counted out. When the dealer finishes counting out the chips, he will push them towards you.
NB: Take note of the following as you buy into the game:
a. The dealer cannot collect anything from your hand the same way you cannot collect from his. All transactions are done on the table so the camera can capture them.
b. Keep your chips close to you on the table after collecting them from the dealer.
c. The dealer may likely change your money into the chips for the minimum table limit. Feel free to ask him to understand more about this.
Step 6: Place Your Bets
You have to place bets to become an active player. Remember to keep the chips within the betting circle, square, or image.
Step 7: The Deal
When all the players are done betting, the dealer begins to deal cards to them, one after the other, from the shoe.
He starts from the first player sitting on his left-hand side and works down to the last one sitting on his right.
He first passes a card each to the players and himself and then comes back to pass the second one, following the same pattern.
Hence, he and the players will have two cards each by the end of the deal. Note that there is no third passing of cards in the game of Blackjack. Players that need more cards will collect them during the play.
In Blackjack, cards are dealt face up. However, only one of the dealer’s cards faces up because the second one faces down.
This is why players have to make decisions about their hands by guessing the total value of the dealer’s cards.
Step 8: Decision on How to Play Hands
Now that the dealer is done with the card dealing, he will start asking players to make decisions about their hands.
He will start with the player on his left-hand side, and work clockwise to the last one on his right. He will not jump to another player until he is done with the one he is attending to. Remember, once you make a decision, you cannot change it.
Hence, think hard and do all forms of calculations before making a decision. The dealer will wait for you as you do so.
In case you are wondering, this is the stage the dealer expects you to stand, hit, double down, split, or surrender.
i. If you want to ‘stand’, you should extend your palm and wave it over the cards, slightly. Even if you say “stand”, you still have to do this hand signal so the camera will capture it.
ii. If you want to ‘hit’, you should tap or scratch the table, gently and close to the cards, to indicate you need more deals.
iii. To ‘double down’, place another wager that is equal to the original one on the left side of that initial wager. The dealer will pass you a card afterwards.
iv. If you want to ‘split’ your cards into separate hands, simply place another wager that is equal to the original one, like you did in double-down, but you must signal by splitting the index and third fingers, as if you are doing the sign of peace, on the table.
This will tell the dealer you are splitting your hands and not doubling down.
v. To ‘surrender’, draw a line behind your bet as if you want to slit the table. You can utter the word as you do this so the dealer doesn’t mistake your sign for ‘hit’.
Remember to avoid buying insurance if you have a blackjack. Also, avoid ‘hitting’ cards until you bust.
Do the much you can to move up as close to 21 as you can but don’t step across the boundary.
Step 9: The Dealer Exposes Down-Card
After every player has taken a decision, including buying insurance, the dealer then exposes his down-card. If the total value of his hand is below 16, he can draw cards to raise the value.
However, if it is between 18 and 21, he is not allowed to hit. In that case, he will pay those with values above his (because they won) and collect the wagers of those with values below his (because they lost).
The wagers for the ‘push’ are allowed to stand until the next hand if the player wishes.
But if the dealer ‘bust’, all the players that are still in the game (that is those that did not bust) will be paid even money, that is 1 to 1 of their wagers.
As you can see, Blackjack is a simple game. All you need to play this game are your simple arithmetic skills and the knowledge of the cards’ values.
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However, you should avoid drawing lots of cards while hitting so you don’t bust. Also, remember to have fun as you play.