The Game Of Blackjack
The game of blackjack, or twenty-one, is the most popular casino game in the world, probably because skilled players can actually change the odds in their favor. The game is played with one or more 52-card decks, with each individual player playing against the dealer. The object of the game is to get two or more cards that add up to 21 or less without getting more points than the dealer. Numbered cards count at face value, while the king, queen, and jack count 10 points each. The ace can count as 1 or 11 as the player chooses. The game starts when each player and the dealer are dealt two cards.
The players are allowed to see their cards and one of the dealer’s cards. Then they have their choice of whether to keep only two cards or to add another card to the first two. The dealer chooses whether to take another card based upon house rules. If a player completes his or her hand with 21 or fewer points and the dealer has fewer than 21 points, then the player wins. If a player gets more than 21, this is a “bust” and the player loses his or her bet. If both the player and the dealer get the same number of points, this is a “push,” or tie. If the player receives a ten and an ace, this is called blackjack, or a natural win. Most wins pay off at 1:1, but a blackjack often pays off at 3:2. The dealer is an agent of the casino.
History of Blackjack
The game of 21 dates back at least to the early 17th century.The two main characters play a game called veintiuno, whose object is to obtain 21 points without going over, and aces count as 1 or 11 points. When 21 was first played in the United States, casinos offered 10 to 1 payoffs if players got 21 points with an ace of spades and a jack of either of the black suits. Thus, the name “blackjack” came into being. Now a blackjack, or natural, consists of an ace and any card with a value of 10.
Playing the Game at a Casino
At a casino as many as seven players stands at a crescent-shaped table across from the dealer. If one or decks are dealt they may be dealt by hand, or more decks may be dealt from either a container called a shoe, or from a shuffling machine.
After receiving his or her first two cards, the player may either take a “hit”, or a new card, “stand,” or refuse a new card. At this point the player cans “double down”, or double his or her original bet, while taking a hit. Another option is to “split a pair” if the player has two cards of the same value. This means separating the pair into two hands, adding another bet equal to the first, and playing both hands separately.
Some casinos allow the player to “surrender,” which means giving up the hand and receiving half the bet back. Players may take as many hits as they wish until they bust. After all players have come to the point of standing, the dealer shows his as-yet-unrevealed card, called the “hole” card, and plays out his or her hand according to the rules printed upon the table.
Players signal their decisions by hand, to make them clear to the casino’s watchers or video cameras. This makes it difficult for players and dealers to cheat the house.