Blackjack explained

One of the most populair games, offered in casinos worldwide is Blackjack.
Where Roulette is purely about luck, Blackjack is a game were you can limit your losses by using the correct strategy.
Blackjack is an outgrowth of the game 21 which has it’s origin in the 15th century. As players in the United States didn’t like the game, Casino’s in Nevada tried to make it more interesting (in 1931) by adding bonus rewards to it. As a result they offered a bonus if a player hits an Ace of spades, together with a black Jack (Spades, or clubs). This bonus payout was 1 to 10 and the name Blackjack was born. As the game has been changed over the years, the nickname stuck and nowadays we still call it Blackjack.
Let’s start with the cards:
Blackjack is played with one or more normal deck(s) of 52 cards. The most common variants: Single deck blackjack (1 deck), double deck Blackjack (2 decks) or out of the shoe of Card Shuffle Machine (usually 6 decks).
The cards 2 to 10 have their own value. All the face cards are worth 10 point and the Ace is worth 1 or 11 points. The goal is to come as close to 21 as possible, but never over 21 (bust). The ultimate hand: Blackjack (an Ace and a 10 or face card).

The game:
You play Blackjack against the house. The game starts by placing a bet on one of the seven boxes. All the players get two cards, the dealer gets one. All the cards are dealt face up. Clockwise, players get the opportunity to get one of more cards, as long as they don’t bust. The following options are possible:

Stand / Stay:
The player decides not to take another card. Casino’s want players to make this clear by making a waiving hand gesture.
The player decides to take another card by taping on the table. When the player busts, he will lose his bet.
If the first two cards have a total of 9, 10 or 11, the player can double. In this case, the original bet will be doubled and the player will receive one more card.
When the first two cards are similar (for example two sixes) the hand can be split. The player places the original bet again and both cards will get a new card. For the rest the game will be played as above. When the player hits another six (in this example) the hand can be split again.
When all the players are done, it’s up to the dealer. The dealer has strict rules: Get a card with 16 or lower, stand on 17 or higher.
If the bank busts, all the hands still in the game will win. If the bank has a score of 17,18,19,20 or 21 the hand will be compared with the player’s hands. If the player’s hand is higher, the player wins. Is the bank’s hand higher, the bank wins. When the hands are equal (push), nobody wins and the player will keep his bet.

The payouts for this game are easy: 2 to 1 if you win the hand and a Blackjack hand will pay you 3 to 2 in most casinos.
Soft and hard totals:
When the player has, for example, an 8 and an Ace, it’s called a soft 19. This because you can count the Ace for 1 or 11. If the player stands, it’s automatically 19. When the player has, for example, a 9 and a Jack, it’s called a hard 19.
Even money and surrender:
Most casinos offers you the opportunity the take “even money”. This happens when a player has Blackjack and the first card of bank is an Ace. When the player asks for even money, the hand will be paid out immediately against 1-1.
Surrender is the option to decide at any stage of the game, to say:  “I surrender”. In this case, you’ll loose half your bet and the hand is over, no matter what the bank will have.
Smart play:
So fare the basic rules of the game. What makes Blackjack really interesting is that you can actually decide yourself how to play. As any other casino game, many people made a study out of how to play Blackjack in order to beat the house. The answer is very simple: it’s not possible! But, what can you do? Limit you losses by playing according to the following schedules. Of course these schedules are no guarantee for success, but in a long run, it will optimize your results. 

Double & split?
The following schedules advises you when it's best to double down and split your hand:

What are the odds?
The house edge at Blackjack varies, based on the skills of the player. On average, the edge for the casino is 5%. If you play the game 100% by the book, you can reduce these oddes to +/- 0,5%

Different rules all over the world:
The explanation of the game as given above is mainly how the game is played in casinos in Europe. Although the main idea and rules are the same all over the planet, there are lots of small differences. A few examples:

  • Hitting a soft 17. In most casinos, the bank must stand on a soft 17. In some casinos, the bank must hit another card.
  • At some casino’s you may double any two cards instead of only 9,10 &11.
  • In Europe, the house starts with one card en start drawing after all players are done. Outside Europe, the dealer gets two cards and turns over one card. When the dealer has an Ace of a 10, the dealer checks for blackjack before the game continues.
  • With single and double deck Blackjack cards are dealt face down.
  • In some casino’s you’ll lose your bet when you push with the bank. Our advise: never play on these tables, your odds are really bad.