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Rules and Strategies for Blackjack

How to play and how to win

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Blackjack


Blackjack outnumbers other casino table games by a margin of about two to one. The game is so immensely popular because, when played correctly, it offers better odds than any other game. The purpose of the game is to get a hand total higher than the dealer’s without going over a count of 21. You play against the dealer, not against other players at the table. Whatever hand you end up with must be 21 or less, but higher than what the dealer has.

Cards between 2 and 10 are counted at their face value. Jacks, Queens, and Kings also have a value of 10. At you option an Ace can be counted as 1 or 11, whichever is more advantageous to your hand. Therefore, if you hold a 9 and a 5, you have 14, but a nine and an Ace can be either 10 or 20. When you get an Ace and a ten-value card, it’s called a blackjack, which beats all other hands except for another blackjack. So if you have a blackjack, and the dealer has 3 cards that add up to 21, you still win.

Before the cards are dealt, each player must put up a bet. Bets usually start at $5 minimum and range as high as $1,000 at some casinos. At online casinos you can find games with $1 minimum bets, allowing you to play and sharpen your skills without much risk.. To make a bet, simply place your wager (chips) in the appropriate box or circle.

After placing a bet, you are dealt two cards face up. The dealer also gets two cards, but only one of the dealer's cards is face up. You are then given the option of standing with the cards you have or you may take another card, called hitting. You may hit as often as you wish but if you go over 21, you bust, and the dealer wins automatically. The dealer will not take any cards until all players at the table have made their choices. The dealer's biggest advantage is here. Any players that bust lose their bet even if the dealer also goes bust.

Now the dealer shows his face down card. If his hand totals 17 or higher he must stand – he is not allowed to take additional cards. But if the dealer’s hand is 16 or under he must hit until the hand has a value of 17 or higher. If the exceeds 21 while taking additional cards, the dealers busts and loses.

The payoff if you win is even money (1 to 1). If you get a blackjack you are paid 1 times your wager (bet 2 win 3). If the dealer gets blackjack at the same time, it’s a tie, you don’t win or lose.

Those are the primary rules. Pretty straight forward, right? However, there are a few more things you need to know about.

Now that you know the basics of how the game is played, the following is your best strategy as determined by computer testing. Always hit (take more cards) when you have 11 or less. Always stand when you have 17 or more. When the dealer's up card is from a 7 to an Ace, hit if your count is between 12 and 16, stand if the dealer shows a 2 to 6.

In most casinos, you may double down (double your bet) after your first two cards. However, there is one condition. When you double down, you can take only one more card. You can not receive any more cards after this. Always double if your two dealt cards add up to 11, except when the dealer has a 10 or Ace.

Another play is the splitting of pairs. If your first two cards of the deal are the same value, you may split the cards and play two hands by placing a bet of the same value as your original bet on the second hand. So if you split a pair of 8’s you create two separate hands, each with a value of 8. Then you proceed to play out each hand as you would do normally. Always split Ace-Ace and 8-8. Never split 10-10, 5-5 or 4-4.

You may buy insurance when the dealer’s up card is an Ace because there is the possibility that the dealer has a blackjack you automatically lose, unless you also have a blackjack, in which case it’s a tie. After all players and the dealer have 2 cards each, he will ask "insurance?" The insurance "premium" is 1/2 of your original bet. Payment is 2 to 1 if the dealer does indeed have a blackjack hand. Insurance bets favor the house and should generally be avoided. Don’t take insurance.

Be sure to memorize these six most important basic strategy rules:

                      1) Stand if you hold 12 to 16 and the dealers up card is 2 to 6.
                      2) Hit if you hold 12 to 16 and the dealer shows a 7 or higher.
                      3) Stand if your count is between 17 and 21.
                      4) Always split pairs of 8’s and Aces.
                      5) Never split 10’s, 5’s or 4’s
                      6) Double down on 11, unless the dealer shows a 10 or Ace.

For a detailed, accurate basic strategy see the table at the end of this page.

How-to-Win Strategy:

Now that you know the elementary rules of how to play blackjack, let me show you the method I use in trying to win:

Risk your own money cautiously, but take the double or nothing approach with your winnings. Let’s assume you have a $100 stake and you are playing at a $5 table. Bet $5, when you win bet $10, win bet $20, win again bet $40, win once more bet $80. You might be reluctant to risk $80 in one whack, but look at it this way: If you lose the gamble has only cost you $5 of your own money . . .but if you win you’ll collect $160!

A $100 stake at $5 a hand gives you 20 chances to try this system. If Lady Luck is by your side and you get five winning hands in a row, don’t get greedy. Go back and start with a $5 bet, trying to repeat the process. Watch your chips closely, if you don’t get another lucky run in short order, stop playing while you’re ahead. You’ll feel much better if you quit a winner. Enjoy your blackjack and Good Luck.

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Basic Blackjack Strategy

A = Ace

Players

Dealers Up Card

Cards

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

Ace

2

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

3

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

3 (A+2)

Hit

Hit

Double

Double

Double

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

4

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

4 (2+2)

Hit

Split

Split

Split

Split

Split

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

4 (A+3)

Hit

Hit

Double

Double

Double

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

5

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

5 (A+4)

Hit

Hit

Double

Double

Double

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

6

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

6 (3+3)

Hit

Hit

Split

Split

Split

Split

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

6 (A+5)

Hit

Hit

Double

Double

Double

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

7

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

7 (A+6)

Double

Double

Double

Double

Double

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

8

Hit

Hit

Hit

Double

Double

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

8 (4+4)

Hit

Hit

Hit

Double

Double

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

8 (A+7)

Stand

Double

Double

Double

Double

Stand

Stand

Hit

Hit

Stand

9

Double

Double

Double

Double

Double

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

9 (A+8)

Stand

Stand

Stand

Stand

Stand

Stand

Stand

Stand

Stand

Stand

10

Double

Double

Double

Double

Double

Double

Double

Double

Hit

Hit

10 (5+5)

Double

Double

Double

Double

Double

Double

Double

Double

Hit

Hit

10 (A+9)

Stand

Stand

Stand

Stand

Stand

Stand

Stand

Stand

Stand

Stand

11

Double

Double

Double

Double

Double

Double

Double

Double

Double

Double

12

Hit

Hit

Stand

Stand

Stand

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

13

Stand

Stand

Stand

Stand

Stand

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

14

Stand

Stand

Stand

Stand

Stand

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

15

Stand

Stand

Stand

Stand

Stand

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

16

Stand

Stand

Stand

Stand

Stand

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

Hit

17

Stand

Stand

Stand

Stand

Stand

Stand

Stand

Stand

Stand

Stand

18

Stand

Stand

Stand

Stand

Stand

Stand

Stand

Stand

Stand

Stand

19

Stand

Stand

Stand

Stand

Stand

Stand

Stand

Stand

Stand

Stand

20

Stand

Stand

Stand

Stand

Stand

Stand

Stand

Stand

Stand

Stand

21

Stand

Stand

Stand

Stand

Stand

Stand

Stand

Stand

Stand

Stand


CARD COUNTING in BLACKJACK


Card counters use a basic strategy to help them improve their odds. Cards worth ten in blackjack (like Tens, Jacks, Queens, and Kings) and Aces (which can be worth 1 or 11) count as -1. Sixes down to twos count as +1. Sevens through to nines count as 0. Tens and aces are good cards for the player because they can be used to give a score of 20 or 21 that is obviously desirable. A deck with a high count has used a lot of low cards (sixes through to twos), which means there is a lot of tens, aces and sevens, eights and nines left in the deck. These cards will give the player a good hand because in combination they
will lead to a high score. But a deck with a large minus count (that has lots of low cards left) will give a poor hand.

Theoretically, card counters have a small advantage over the dealer - between .5 and 1.5 percent. All card-counting strategies out there work by keeping track of the statistical relationship between big cards and small cards. When the cards remaining in the deck favour the player, you bet more money. When the cards look good for the dealer you bet less.

Now when you count cards skillfully you have the edge over the casino.  The next thing you should worry about is not to get barred from the casino being caught counting cards.  I found a good article on the subject.  Click here to read it.


Here is another method by Mike Perkel the author of Columns and Dozens Roulette system:

Here is the counting method I use when playing against a shoe. All 2,3,4,6,7,8 cards are plus 1, 5's are plus 2, 9 and ace are 0 and all 10 value cards are -2. I keep a separate count of aces using both my feet. With the first ace I pick the front of my right foot up off the ground slightly. with the second ace I roll it to the right side. with the third ace I lift my right heel and with the fourth ace I roll the foot to the left side. Aces 5 thru 8 are done with the left foot. Aces 8 thru 12 are back on the right foot and back to the left foot if there are more. I add or subtract their value from the amount of the cards in the discard tray. I have hit and stand numbers that are different from Basic Strategy. Due to my age I have lost some of my vision in my left eye so that card counting is difficult because of a difference in perspective between my eyes. I can only do it by sitting either in the middle of the table or one seat off the middle on either side. It is still a challenge to see if I can still beat the casino. I still can do the arithmetic counting cards in pairs but not in groups of threes or fours anymore. If there is a very fast dealer I have to leave and find another table. Sometimes they figure out what I am doing and if I stay in the same casino they put that same dealer at whatever table I go to. It is all to do with respect. I don't play at a level anymore that would hurt them so they mostly don't bother me.


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