Blackjack (also called “Twenty-One” or “21”) has been a staple in casinos for more than a hundred years now and reigns as the most popular table game by a large margin.
Much of blackjack’s popularity can be attributed to its appeal to gamblers of all skill levels. Casual gamblers can get started quickly with minimal learning time and experienced gamblers enjoy applying strategy to reduce the house advantage.
Once you get past the basic rules, blackjack can become a rather complicated game. Getting started is easy enough but there are a variety of advanced bets and many strategic aspects to consider.
Blackjack is probably most well known for having the lowest house advantage in the casino. With the right strategy, a good blackjack player can almost completely eliminate the house advantage. Casinos have taken measures to defend against professional card counters but some people still make a living by playing blackjack.
The low house advantage plus blackjack’s almost cult-like status in movies like 21 and The Rain Man have pushed blackjack into mainstream popularity. You can ask almost anyone in the world about blackjack and they will at least know something about the game. The game has this aura about it that says “if you can just make the right moves at the right times, the sky is the limit.”
Of course, getting an advantage over the house is easier said than done. The average blackjack player does not follow perfect strategy and never gains an advantage over the house. Blackjack strategy isn’t particularly complicated but it does require some memorization. A perfect strategy won’t necessarily give you an advantage but it will go a long ways in reducing the house advantage.
If you want to actually gain an advantage over the house, you will have to learn how to count cards. Contrary to popular belief, card counting isn’t very complicated. Most card counting systems rely on a simple system of tallying 1s, 0s and -1s. What makes card counting difficult are the tactics casinos use to distract suspected card counters.
Casual blackjack is a totally different matter. Most blackjack players just want to have a little fun and play a game that doesn’t have a huge house advantage. Casinos even let these players use strategy cards to help determine the best move in each situation. With such a low house advantage, almost anything can happen in a single session of blackjack. A player will win a fat chunk of cash just about as easily as he’ll lose whatever he brought to the casino.
Online blackjack is as popular as live blackjack – if not more so. One of the greatest advantages of online blackjack is that you can take as long as you need to decide on the correct play. It’s just you and the dealer
Additionally, online blackjack can be played at a wide variety of stakes. It doesn’t matter if you want to start at just $1.00 a hand or $500 a hand; online casinos are happy for your business.
The goal of blackjack is to get as close to 21 as possible without going over. Numbered cards are worth 2-9 points, face cards are worth 10 points and Aces can be worth either 1 or 11 points.
You receive two cards at the beginning of the round and can then choose to either receive another card or stay where you are. You can receive as many cards as you want, but remember that you don’t want to go over 21 points.
If you get closer to 21 than the dealer does, you win your original wager. If you hit 21 on your first two cards (an Ace and a face card) you get paid 3:2 on your original wager. If you go over or if the dealer gets closer to 21, you lose your original bet.
For a more detailed listing of the rules of blackjack, check out our rules page listed above here. For now, these are the basics of blackjack. It’s a simple game but the possibilities for strategy and additional bets are endless.