Getting Started with Blackjack

Blackjack is a very easy card game to play, in fact, most people actually learn to play as children or young adults. If you can tally numbers between 1 and 11 and count as high as 21, blackjack should be a really easy game for you to learn to play.

Before all of the fancy varieties of blackjack offered around the world today, there was single deck blackjack, which is simply put, just blackjack played with a single deck of cards. Today Blackjack is still played with as few as as one deck of cards however, it’s also played with as many as 8.

Most commonly blackjack is played with six decks of regular playing cards. Single deck blackjack today is a rarity, and the most advantageous for the player. Double deck blackjack is about as close to single as you can find now, and even those games are few and far between.

One advantage to using multiple decks is that there are fewer game interruptions for shuffling, however, the real reason casinos like to use more decks of cards is to disable would-be card counters. Even so, players using an optimum blackjack strategy still have a small edge over the casino, not a stupendous edge, but enough to earn a decent profit over time.

The reason for that is that blackjack card counting really isn’t that difficult, and when card counting is used as a part of a solid strategy, in a game with only one blackjack deck, the house, or casino cannot profit. In fact, they lose big.

The point of of the game of blackjack is to add together all of the cards dealt to you in order to reach 21, or as close to 21 as you can get without busting, or going over.

Blackjack Format

Blackjack is a multi-player game, however the players are not on a team and they don’t play against each other. Although there can be several players all playing with the same deck of cards, each player is playing individually against the dealer.

To win your hand must be better, or higher than the dealers. If the dealer is dealt 21 he wins, and if your hand matches the dealers, that’s a push and no one wins.

Blackjack can be played with just one player playing against the dealer or 2 or more players playing against a dealer. The players are not opponents however, each player is individually playing against the dealer.

A hand of Single Deck Blackjack

The hand begins when the dealer deals each player at the table two cards. The first card will be dealt face down, and the second face up. If you were counting cards, you’d want to include those face-up cards in your count.

If the dealer is dealt a ten or an ace, he will briefly check his cards for a blackjack. If the dealer has 21, no matter what the player has, the dealer wins and a new hand begins.

We’ll assume for now that the dealer was not dealt 21, and the hand continues. The player now checks his/her hand for a blackjack (meaning a and totalling 21). If the player does have 21, they turn their cards over and announce blackjack.

If the player does not have 21 play continues. At this point the player can opt to take another card from the dealer, or stay with just the two cards he was originally dealt. The player can come to this decision using blackjack strategy or card counting methods, common sense, or just on a whim. When the player reaches 22, or decides to stand, the play moves onto the next player or the dealer.

If the player busts by reaching a number higher than 21, that player loses that hand.

If the player wants more cards, he asks for a hit, or taps his cards on the table if he’s playing a live hand of blackjack. When playing online blackjack there’s a button to push for another card, usually labeled ‘hit’.

If the player is content with his hand he opts to stand, taking no more cards, the hand gesture for this in a live casino is a wave over the players hand.

The dealer doesn’t have the same freedoms however, the dealer must follow rules for hand play that are set in advance. Commonly the dealer hits on 16 and stands on 17. Those numbers do vary though and can generally be found posted on the blackjack table.