Blackjack rules and strategy

Blackjack StrategyAlthough there are slight variations on the rules from casino to casino, Blackjack is a pretty simple game to get the hang of and Blackjack strategy is also not complicated and is based on probability theory. You just need to go to the effort of memorising the best approach depending on your cards and those of the dealer.

Basically, each player and the dealer is dealt two cards. The aim of the game is to get to as close as the number 21 as possible through the combination of the values of your cards, without going over it. An Ace can either be counted as an 11 or a 1 and jacks, queens and kings all count as 10s. The players compete against the dealer and for either the player or the dealer going past 21 disqualifies them and whoever is left automatically wins, as long as they are still below or equal to 21.

The players’ cards are visible but only one of the dealer’s. This is what gives the house its edge. On seeing the two cards the player must decide whether to ‘Stick’ or ‘Twist’. Sticking means that the player has decided not to risk adding another unknown card to his total and to take his chances on being closest to 21 with what he has. If the player Twists, the dealer will deal him an addition card. Both the player and the dealer can choose to Twist as many times as they like. Until passing 21 that is, in which case you are ‘Bust’ and lose the game.

A ‘Blackjack’ is when you are dealt an ace and ten with your first two cards and you automatically win, without the dealer being given the chance to also reach 21. The player will usually, depending on the casino rules, win 1.5 of the initial bet if a Blackjack comes up.

‘Doubling’ is a call that the player can make and means that the initial bet is doubled and just one more card is dealt. When a player has a pair, two cards of the same value, he can also call a ‘Split’. This splits the hand in two and two hands are played simultaneously. This doubles the bet also as the player must match the first bet for the split hand. Doubling and splitting can only be done as a first move by the player, or as the first move on a newly split hand.

Blackjack theory is a table of the possible combinations between the player’s hand and that of the one card of the dealer’s that can be seen. Based on probability theory it advices whether Sticking or Twisting is statistically advisable in each possible scenario. While no matter what the player does the odds are still in the casino’s favour, memorising the strategy table will certainly help a player.