Blackjack is the card game for you, if you're looking for suspense and excitement. Blackjack, also known as 21, is one of the most popular casino games amongst seasoned players as well as beginners.

How to play Blackjack

The object of the game is simple: Your cards must add up to a higher total than the dealers cards without going over 21. A hand with a total higher than 21 is said to 'bust', the game is over for the player or dealer who has bust.
A Blackjack (BJ) is when the first two cards initially dealt are an Ace, combined with a 10, Jack, Queen or King. This is an automatic winner, unless the dealer also has a Blackjack, in which case it is a 'push'. Winning BJ hands are paid 1.5 to 1
To start the game, all players place their wager, however much they want in line with table limits.

  • The croupier will now deal 1 card, face up, to each player, one card to the house, and then a second card to each player, (pleased do not touch the cards).
  • Now you need to decide whether to stay or take more cards to try and get closer to 21.
  • After each player has decided, in turn, to stand or draw the dealer will then complete their hand, drawing cards according to the rule "draws on 16 but stands on 17 or higher".
  • If your total and the dealer's are the same it is called a "stand off", you don't win anything but you don't lose either.
  • All players with a higher total than the dealer win an amount equal to their bet, or "even money". Players with a lower count than the dealer lose their bet. If the dealer busts, all remaining players win even money.

Blackjack Card Values

  • Cards between 2 and 10 have their face value.
  • Face cards - Jacks, Queens and Kings all have a value of 10
  • Aces can be counted as either 1 or 11, depending on which is more beneficial to you, these are called 'soft totals'.
  • Different suites do not have different values.

Hand Values

Your hand value is determined simply by adding your card values together.
For example:

  • A 2, 7 and 9 gives you a hand of 18.
  • An Ace and a 9 will give you a hand of either 10 or 20.
  • In the event of the dealer having Blackjack, the dealer will beat the players, even those with hands which total 21, unless a player also has a blackjack, in this situation the players hand will 'stand off".

Types of Hands

Stiff Hands
A hand with total value of between 12 and 16. There is a chance that you will 'bust' if you draw one more card.

Soft Hands
A hand that contains an Ace which can have either 1 or 11 attributed to it, without busting the hand.

Hard Hands
A hand that does not contain an Ace or that contains an Ace but the Ace can only be counted as 1. If you are dealt and Ace and a 6 you have a Soft 17. If you drew another card, a 9, you would now have a Hard 16.

Stand- Off (Push)
A Push is a tie. The dealer and the player have hands of equal value. For example, the dealer has a 5,3 and 10 - a hand of 18. The player has a 10 and an 8, a hand of 18. No money is exchanged, it's a push.

Bust or Too Many
A hand is busted when its value exceeds a hard 21. The hand loses. If the dealer busts, the players will automatically win.

Hitting and Standing
You decide whether you'd like more cards or not. If you choose to take no more cards you 'stand'. If you hit, you will be dealt another card.

Doubling Down
You can double your bet if you feel taking one more card will put you in an advantageous situation. You will only be dealt one more card.

Splitting pairs
When your first two cards dealt are a pair (2,2 - 3,3 - 4,4 etc..) you have the opportunity to split these and play two independent hands. A hand can be split up to four times if the next card has the same numerical value. An additional bet equal to the value of the original bet must accompany each split. Splitting 10's and receiving an Ace totals 21 and not Blackjack. Some splitting tips:

  • Always split a pair of aces or a pair of 8s.
  • Never split a pair of 10s, 4s or 5s.
  • Split all other pairs if the dealer's up card is 6 or less.

If, after you've been dealt your first two cards, the dealer's face card is an ace, you can take insurance against the dealers potential blackjack. This side bet is placed up to half the value of your original bet, and pays 2:1 odds if the dealer draws blackjack. If the dealer does not draw a picture you will lose your insurance money.

After the initial deal and before any further cards are drawn you can give up your hand and lose only half of your bet. You cannot surrender against an Ace.

Even Money
If you are dealt a Blackjack and the dealer is showing an Ace, you can ask for Even Money and the dealer will pay you automatically. This is just in case you think the dealer will also draw Blackjack, in which case you will be paid nothing.

Selected Side Bets

Sevens is an additional bet placed before any cards are dealt. If your initial cards are sevens it will be paid as follows:

  • One 7 - pays 5:1
  • Two 7's - pays 50:1
  • Three 7's - pays 500:1
  • Three 7's of the same colour - pays 1000:1
  • Three 7's of the same suit - pays 1500:1
  • Limits will be displayed on the Tables

Perfect Pairs is an additional bet placed before any cards are dealt. If your initial deal cards are of the same value the bet will be paid as follows:

  • Mixed Pair - pays 6:1
  • Same colour - pays 12-1
  • Perfect Pair - pays 25-1
  • Limits will be displayed on the Tables

Basic Strategy Blackjack
When playing blackjack, you need to familiarize yourself with the different tactics for each situation. The dealer has to follow a set of rules, so you can know exactly what to expect, and can then take the necessary action. This is merely a guideline and each player has a choice to make any decision they see fit, as long as it is line with internal policies.
The dealer must continue to draw on 16 or less, and stay on 17 or higher.
Hard hands:

  • If you have 9 or lower - You should hit.
  • If you have 10 or 11, you should double down if your total is greater than the dealer's upcard, if not simply hit.
  • You have between 12 and 16, you should hit if the dealer's upcard is 7 or greater, but stand otherwise.
  • Stand if you have 17 or higher.

Soft Hands:

  • If you have between 13 and 17, you should double down when the dealer has an upcard of 5 or 6.
  • You have 17 or lower - you should hit.
  • Your hand is 18. You should stand.
  • If your hand is 19 or higher - stand.

Blackjack Etiquette

Playing at casino tables for the first time can be a daunting experience, but there are a few tips to stop you from making a faux pas on your foray into the world of table gaming.

Table Limits
Firstly, find out about the individual table limits before you join a game. It can be very embarrassing sitting down at a high limit table when you don't have much to spend. The tables will usually be marked with special table rules as well as the table limits, but if you are unsure, just ask.

Joining a Game
When joining a game, generally an empty chair means there is a space free at the table. However, be careful with Blackjack tables, as some people play two hands, so an empty chair does not always mean there is a place at the table.

Buying In
Before you play a table game, you must convert your cash to casino chips. This can be done at the table, but remember, dealers are not allowed to take money directly from your hands.
Put your money on the table and ask for change or chips, the dealer should give you the correct denomination. Most important is to always wait for the hand being played to end before you buy in. All casino chips can be converted back to cash at the cash desk.

Hitting and standing
In order to avoid misunderstandings at a blackjack table, especially when there is a lot of noise in the casino, hand signals are used in addition to saying 'hit' or 'stand'. The dealer's eyes will be on the cards most the time. When you want another card, say, "Card please", tapping the table also signifies you want a card but you may be asked for a verbal confirmation. The signal for standing is a small horizontal wave of the hand while saying, 'Stand'.

General Tips

  • Keep your emotions under control.
  • Do not to give advice to other players, especially when they do not ask for it.
  • Set limits for yourself in terms of how much you are prepared to lose and stick to them.
  • Remember, chips are real money.
  • Most importantly, have fun!

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