Blackjack Online Casino Overview - Have Fun Doing the Splits

Blackjack Example

Blackjack (or "Twenty One") is the most popular casino table game of all. While relatively simple, it's not purely a game of chance, meaning you can play it better or worse. Playing better generally means knowing when and when not to take additional cards, and when to employ game options to press your bet in situations that improve your betting position. It's also a historical gambling darling for those who enjoy feeling a romantic connection to its storied evolution.

The earliest historic reference to a game like Blackjack appears in Miguel de Cervantes' novel Novelas Ejemplares, in which a couple card sharks from Seville are masters of cheating at a game called Ventiuna, which is Spanish for twenty-one. The characters maintained the game was about attaining 21 points without going over, and that aces were worth 1 or 11. This story was written in the early 1600s, which implies Ventiuna has been around since at least the early 17th century.

The game eventually migrated to the United States, where gambling houses tempted players with a bonus payout on a hand consisting of an ace of spades and either black jack. The bonus was reportedly as high as 10:1. Given the role of black jacks in this enticing bonus, people eventually began referring to the game as "Blackjack". And though the amazing bonus payout soon disappeared for obvious reasons, the name stuck. Eventually, the scope of the winning bonus hand expanded to include all aces paired with either 10s or face cards regardless of suit.

The game is played the same whether in land-based casinos or online. Each player attempts to arrive the best hand against the dealer's hand by either winning outright with a blackjack on their first two cards, or by taking cards (or "hits") until their hand total either reaches 21 or they're satisfied with a sufficiently high hand as close to 21 as possible.

Cards have the following values:

Card Value
10, Jack, Queen, King 10
Ace 1 or 11
2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Players receive their first two cards face up, while the dealer receives one face down (the "hole card") and the other face up. The face up dealer card helps players decide the kind of hits they should take to beat a potential dealer hand. Players then take turns accepting extra cards until satisfied and "staying" with their hands, or "busting" by going over 21. A player's chips are collected immediately upon busting.

Did you know?

Some casinos permit a player decision called a "surrender" that terminates a player's hand while, more importantly, returning half the player's bet? However, this decision must be the very first decision made about a hand, i.e. before any additional cards are received.

Once all player hands have settled, the dealer flips over their hole card and, if necessary, must take hits from the deck according to predetermined rules set by the casino. Usually the dealer must take cards until the hand is worth at least 17. But some casinos require the dealer to hit on a so-called "soft" 17, i.e. an ace and a six, which can also be valued as seven. Regardless, the dealer adds cards to their hand until either attaining a value between 17 and 21, or busting.

Player blackjacks automatically win, being paid the moment they're dealt at a payout of 3:2, although some casinos pay less. Dealer blackjacks beat all other player hands, including those that totaled 21 without being a blackjack. See how simple it is?

Well, that's not the full story. In addition to hitting or staying, players can also improve their bet by "doubling down" on their hand or "splitting" their hand. While the details of each are different, both give the player the opportunity to take more cards and bet more on modified hands that usually have a strong chance of winning. Leveraging these more advanced mechanisms is essential to what is usually called "skillfully played Blackjack". Indeed, they actually lower the house edge.

You've likely heard of "card counting" in Blackjack. While it actually does nullify the house's advantage, it's also next to impossible when playing large shoes. Worse yet, casinos consider it paramount to cheating, and will have you removed and even banned if they think you're doing it.


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