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Blackjack rules from Duglas...........

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A casino Blackjack game consists of a dealer and one to seven players. You do NOT play Blackjack against other players; You play against the dealer. In fact, other players are not relevant to your play. They are mainly a distraction. You are betting that you have a better hand than the dealer. The better hand is the hand where the sum of the card values is closer to 21 without exceeding 21. A hand that is greater than 21 is referred to as "busted" and automatically loses.

Card values

The value of cards two through ten is their pip value (two through ten). Face cards (Jack, Queen and King) are all worth ten. Aces can be worth one or eleven. A hand's value is the sum of the card values. Soft hands and hard hands exist. A soft hand contains an Ace that is being counted as eleven. (Remember, an Ace can count as one or eleven.) For example, if a hand has an Ace and a Six, this is a soft 17. This hand cannot be busted by drawing another card. If a ten is drawn, the Ace would be counted as one instead of eleven, and the hand would still have a value of 17. However, this would now be a hard 17, because the Ace now counts as one and an additional draw could cause a bust.

The Play

Once players have placed their bets, the deal begins. Players are each dealt two cards, face up or down depending on the casino and the table at which you sit. The dealer is also dealt two cards, normally one up (showing) and one down (hidden). The players are allowed to draw additional cards ("hit" their hand) to improve their hands. When all of the players have finished, the dealer's hand is completed. The dealer plays by strict rules set by the casino. Generally, the dealer will draw additional cards until the dealer hand is above hard 16. In some casinos, the dealer will hit a hand with 17 if it is a "soft" hand. This is a bad Blcakjack rule.

Note: the dealer has an advantage because the players play first. If the player busts, then the dealer does not need to risk a bust. On the other hand, players also enjoy an advantage because they get to see one of the dealer's cards and are allowed to vary their play accordingly. Other player advantages will be explained below:

Blackjack or Natural

This Blackjack rule developed in the early part of last century defines a bonus for which the game was named. If the player's first two cards add to 21 (an Ace and a ten value card), this is called a "Blackjack" or "natural". As long as the dealer does not also have a Blackjack, the player is guaranteed to win the hand and the payoff is 3:2 instead of the normal 1:1. This is a valuable bonus that occurs about every 20 hands. If the dealer also has a Blackjack, the hand is "pushed". That is, there is a tie and the player's chips remain in the bet box.

Hitting and Standing

Hitting refers to drawing additional cards. You may draw as many cards as you wish as long as you do not pass 21. Standing refers to staying with the cards that you have.

Splitting Pairs

If your first two cards have the same value, you may split them into two hands. For example, two eights can be split into two hands each having one eight. You can then play the two hands separately. You must add an additional bet for the second hand. If you draw yet another card of the same value, some casinos allow you to split into three hands (or even four with an additional eight). This is called a resplit. Most casinos impose limitations when splitting two Aces. You can only draw one card to each Ace, and you cannot get a Blackjack. Note: Blackjack rules like this must be correctly used to obtain decent results.

Doubling Down

An additional option, "double down", allows you to double your bet on your first two cards. You draw exactly one card with double down. This is common practice if you have a good hand that cannot be busted and the dealer has a bad hand. Remember, because face cards all count as ten, there exist more cards with a value of ten than any other value. If the dealer has a six showing, there is a good chance that the dealer has a 16. Since a dealer must draw with a 16, there is a good chance that the dealer will draw a card that carries the dealer hand over 21 causing a dealer bust. If you have an eleven (say a seven and a four), you cannot bust with one card. You are likely to end up with a good hand. This option allows you to double your bet when you have a better than even chance of winning.


If the dealer's up card (the card that is showing) is an Ace, you are allowed to make an "insurance" bet. This is a side bet that the dealer has a ten-value card as the down card giving the dealer a Blackjack. The dealer will ask for insurance bets from all players before the first player plays. You make this bet by placing chips equal to half of your current bet on the "insurance line" just above your cards. If the dealer has a ten, the insurance bet pays 2:1. In some casinos, the dealer then peeks at the down card and pays or takes the bet immediately. In other casinos, the payoff waits until the end of the play. Note: This Blackjack rule should never be used by a Basic Strategy player.

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Well, the rules, as stated by Duglas below, are not bad for a rank beginner. There are a few things left out, like pushes on 17 to 20, split doubles, European rules, which dealer card gets dealt down, the correct card pick up routine, etc. A few misstatements like BJs are NOT referred to as "Naturals". Naturals occur in Baccarat only. And a few opinions rather than fact such as referring to other players as mere distractions. While insurance is correctly identified as a side bet, it is advantageous for even a BS player to insure under certain conditions.

But these are about as good a rendition of the standard rules as you will see anywhere. Thanks Duglas.

A couple of precautions: In "down" games (one and two deck "hand held" games), you are allowed to touch the cards but you cannot crumple or deface the cards in the slightest in any way.

But in "up" games, 4, 6 and 8 deck "shoe" games and some 2 deck, you are NOT allowed to ever touch the cards for any reason.

Many casinos no longer pay BJs 3 to 2 except in their high limit rooms.

Not so sure about your BJ odds below: Your odds of an Ace are 1 in 13. Your odds of a ten value are 4 in 13. Therefore I'm thinking your odds of a BJ are 1/13 X 4/13 = 4/169 or 1 in 42???

And one bit of advice for rank beginners who do not yet know Basic Strategy: When it is your turn to make your play decision, if the last card dealt would have helped your hand, hit. If it would have hurt your hand, stand. Except in random cards which you will likely seldom see unless you play new cards, this often works even better than Basic Strategy.

A couple of other pointers:

The more players in the game, the worse your odds. In 6 and 7 player games you have no chance whatsoever.

Only double when tens are running and you have the dealer beat on the table- like 11 vs 6 with tens running (out of the dealer shoe). This will give you a winning hit rate on your doubles.

Over all, players lose money on splits. Until you learn better it is better to never split. Any pair, except tens, is a terrible hand. Why would you want to bet twice as much money on it?

Starting out, don't insure until you learn when to insure and it has nothing to do with your hand.

Over all, players merely break even on doubles. So only take your best doubles and avoid soft doubling.

Never split ten value cards. You will likely turn one winner into two losers.

Edited by Guest
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A restatement of some of the basic rules, if I may:

Between you and the dealer:

The highest hand not over 21 wins.

A tie is a "push" and nobody wins. You may remove or change your bet when the round is completed.

When you break you immediately lose and the dealer takes your money and your cards. Even if the dealer subsequently breaks, you still lose.

Most casinos today have the every hand rule which states you must bet at least the table min every hand or you are out of the current shoe and must await the next shoe.

Many tables also have the no midshoe entry rule. Again you must await the start of a new shoe when you first sit down.

I'm not so sure the hit soft 17 rule really favors the casino in the long run. And a lot of casinos agree with me. Dealers often break hitting soft 17. The math does not consider the effect of clumping.

All of the rules in BJ favor you except one: When you both break, the dealer wins.

You can double, the dealer can't.

You can Split, the dealer can't.

You can double and triple split, the dealer can't.

You can split and double, the dealer can't.

You can insure, the dealer can't.

In some casinos, you can surrender, the dealer can't.

You can bet whatever you want, The dealer can't bet at all.

And the most important:

You can leave whenever you want to, the dealer can't.

But none of your advantages are advantages unless you take advantage of them!

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