How to Play Blackjack at a Casino
Some players refer to the game as 21 while others call it blackjack. Whatever you want to name it, understanding how to play it in the casino is essential if you want to have fun and occasionally even outscore the house.
The Blackjack Movement
Blackjack is thought to have been invented in 18th-century France under the name vingt-et-un, which translates to “21,” but it only became widely known as a casino game after Edward O. Thorp published his basic blackjack strategy in his 1963 best-seller “Beat the Dealer,” which is, by the way, the game’s ultimate goal. Blackjack has evolved into more than just a pastime, potentially even a method of making a living, in large part because of Thorp.
In the Cards
Blackjack, which uses one, two, four, six, or eight decks of cards, is a deceptively straightforward game. The dealer used to mix the cards manually, but nowadays most casinos employ continuous shuffling machines. The dealer deals the cards in single-deck and double-deck games. The cards are dealt out of a shoe, which is a tray-like box, in multi-deck games. Some casinos have a shoe that holds the cards and also shuffles.
The cards are dealt face down and players are allowed to pick them up in handheld games. The cards are handed face up to the players in a shoe game, and they are not permitted to touch them.
Both facedown and portable games follow the same rules. The goal is always to outscore the dealer, which entails achieving or coming as close to a total point score of 21. You win if the sum of your cards is higher than the dealer’s cards without exceeding 21. You “bust” and lose your wager if your hand totals more than 21. You win if the dealer busts. The fact that the house, or casino, always holds the advantage is an intriguing characteristic of not only blackjack but of all casino games. which is 5 percent in the case of blackjack (meaning for every dollar bet, the casino keeps, on average, five cents). Another intriguing aspect of blackjack is that the dealer typically has a smaller bust potential than the players do.
Contrary to poker, the card suits have no bearing on the outcome of the game. In blackjack, only their numerical value is relevant. A pair of hearts, spades, diamonds, or clubs always equals two points, and so on up the ladder to the number ten. Cards 2 through 10 are tallied at face value. King, Queen, and Jack are all face cards with a value of 10. The value of an ace might be either one or eleven.
A queen and a five would equal fifteen in the play, whereas an ace and a five would equal either six or sixteen. A hand without an ace is known as a “hard hand” since it only has one value. Because the value of an ace can alter, a hand with an ace is known as a soft hand. If you draw to a soft hand and the three cards add up to a number that pushes you beyond 21 by counting an ace as 11, the hand changes to a hard hand. Consider receiving an ace and a three, for instance. Either a 4 or a 14 is in your hand. If you count the ace as 11, you would have 25, which would blow you, so if you draw a 10 after that, you now have a hard 14.