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Blackjack

Blackjack Table
Always Fun Casinos offers regulation size blackjack tables (6 ft. x 3.5 ft.) that allow for 7 players to play simultaneously. Available in seated or standing configurations.

Blackjack Rules

Blackjack is one of the most popular casino games and with simple rules and great returns if you know what you're doing. The premise of the game is simple: get a higher hand than the dealer's without going over 21 and you win your bet.

Here is how it is played…

All numbered cards are worth face value, pictures cards are worth 10, and the Ace is 1 or 11 - whichever produces the most favorable outcome. The game starts with the player placing a bet in their bet box.

Once the bet is placed, the dealer gives the player(s) 2 cards, face up, and him/her self 2 cards, one face up, one face down. The player now has a number of options, as follows:
  • Hit: i.e. take another card. You can hit as many times as you want while your hand still totals less than 21. If your hand total goes over 21, you bust and lose your bet;
  • Stand: i.e. do not take another card;
  • Double down: You may double your bet and receive one (and only one) more card;
  • Split pairs: If your first two cards of the deal are the same value, you can split the cards and play two hands by placing a bet of the same value as your original bet on the second hand. So if you split a pair of 9’s you create two separate hands, each with a value of 9. Then you proceed to play out each hand as you would do normally.
  • Take insurance if the dealer's face up card is an Ace...see below
Once the players have made their choices, the dealer will turn over their face down card. If the dealer's hand totals 17 or higher he/she must stand, they are not allowed to take additional cards. If the dealer’s hand is 16 or under he/she must hit until the hand has a value of 17 or higher. The bust rule also applies to the dealer, so if they hit on 15 and draw a 10, they bust.

The fact that the dealer's hand is played out last is where one of the big house advantages lies, since even if the dealer busts, players who have already gone bust still lose their bet.

Live hands are compared at the end of the deal, and all players with hands higher than the dealer's win...all those below the dealer's lose. If the dealer has gone bust, all live player hands win. If you beat the dealer with a normal hand you win even money on your bet. If you win with Blackjack (Ace and a 10/picture) you win 3 to 2 on your bet.

Blackjack Strategy

Blackjack basic strategy will optimize your long term returns in blackjack. In fact, the mathematical house edge in blackjack where the player uses solid basic strategy will be reduced to well below 1%. Set out below is a basic strategy matrix that shows you the basic strategy move for all deal situations in the most common forms of blackjack.

The basic strategy play is the move at the intersection of the dealer's card and your hand.


H =
Hit
S =
Stand
D =
Double down
P =
Split
H/R =
Surrender if allowed, otherwise hit
H/P =
Split if allowed to double after a split, otherwise hit
NOTE: Your hand less than 8 = always hit

Blackjack strategy

Counting Cards

By counting cards, a player can ascertain whether, at a given point during a game, he/she has an edge over the house. The key to knowing whether or not the player has an edge over the house, is having an idea of whether the remaining cards in the deck/shoe are predominantly high, or predominantly low, as a high card rich deck swings the odds of winning in favor of the player.

Reasons for this are as follows:
  • An abundance of high cards increases the likelihood of blackjack being dealt to both the dealer...but blackjack to the player pays 3 to 2.
  • The dealer has to hit on a stiff hand (12 to 16), while the player doesn't, and when the deck is high card rich, a stiff hand hit is more likely to bust.
  • The probability or winning from double down and split plays also increases when the deck is high card rich.
So if you know the remaining deck is high card rich, you know that you have an edge over the house - and to do this you need to track the cards already dealt. But don't worry, because this doesn't necessitate memorizing every card that has been dealt, but rather tracking the cards by assigning a tag to the cards and keeping a running count of the tags. Tags are as follows:
  • low cards (2, 3, 4, 5, 6) have the tag +1;
  • high cards (10,s, pictures and Aces) have a tag of -1;
  • the rest (7, 8, 9) have a tag of 0
The count before the first deal is 0. As cards are dealt, you simply add the tags of every card dealt so that at any time during the game you have a running count that may be positive, negative or 0. Now, if during the game, your count is positive, this means more low cards have been dealt than high cards, and as a result, the remaining shoe is high card rich. At this point, your odds of winning are greater than at when the game first started...and if the count is significantly positive well into the shoe, then you may even have a significant edge over the house.

You can practice your counting at home by dealing a deck to yourself and counting as you go. If your count is 0 when when the whole pack has been dealt, then you got it right. Your counting really needs to be automatic before you can actually count successfully in a real game situation, because remember that you still have to think about how to play your hand, as well as deal with general casino distractions.

Now you know how to count, you need to know how to bet based on the count. In simple terms, you play basic strategy, and up the ante when the count is positive, and lower the ante or sit out when the count is negative.

 


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