Making Decisions in Blackjack
Understanding the rules and the decisions you have to make when playing Blackjack are a vital component if you want to be able to enjoy the game and be rewarded for your knowledge. This will give you the best chance of winning. Statistically over a long period of play a player will lose about 1.5% of their overall bets but by understanding the decisions you have to make you will become a smarter player.
Hit or Stand
Starting with the most frequent decision that will be made we look at ‘Hit or Stand’. These decisions can also be known as ‘Twist’ or ‘Stick’. If you tell the dealer to ‘hit’ you will receive another card and opposite of that is ‘stand’. If you stand then you will receive no more cards for that game and are declaring your final score for that round.
There is no limit to the number of cards a player can be dealt in their hand by continuing to hit, however it is very unlikely that any player will still be in play with more than 6 cards.
If a player when being dealt further cards by asking to hit has a total of more than 21 points they will be declared bust. This effectively means that player has lost and their stake on that game is lost. However the opposite is true if the player has stated they wish to stand and the dealer goes bust. In this case the player will win and they will be in profit by the same amount as originally staked.
Basically the player receives their stake back and the same amount again.
A push is when both the player and the dealer have the same hand. This will mean nobody wins so the player in effect retains their original stake ready for the next hand. There is however an exception to this rule when the player receives a blackjack. This would be (in almost all casinos) an instant win for the player.
When the initial 2 cards that are dealt are an Ace and a card with a value of 10 points (i.e. 10, J, Q or K) this is what is termed as a ‘blackjack’. In most casinos if a player receives a blackjack when the cards are first dealt it will be an instant win for the player and they will be paid out. However in some casinos if the dealer is showing an Ace the dealer will check to see if they too have a blackjack. If this is the case then the hand would be pushed. Also, even if the player manages to reach a score of 21 but the dealer reveals a blackjack then the player loses.
In the European standard of Blackjack you can ‘double-down’ on numbers 10 or 11. (The Reno rule allows this on numbers 9, 10 and 11). This means the player will double their initial stake and will only receive one subsequent card. This can be an effective way of increasing winnings in the long term.
This is where a player gets the chance to split cards that are duplicate when they have been dealt their initial 2 cards from the dealer. i.e. if they received two 9’s then these could be split. The player would then use these as two new hands using each card as if it was the first dealt by the dealer. This will then mean the dealer will issue two more cards, one for each of the new hands.
However the player must place a further wager equal to that of the original bet. Depending on the rules of the particular casino a player is in, further splitting or the double-down rule may be restricted. After splitting a hand in two, if either attain a blackjack they are now just treated as 21 rather than a normal blackjack.
Here the split rule changes slightly in the fact that if a player has been dealt two aces and decides to split, almost all casinos only allow the player one further card for each hand. It is highly recommended that players who receive two aces in their first 2 cards should always split.
A player is normally offered insurance when they are dealt an Ace. This is to protect the players stake against the dealer turning over a card that completes their blackjack. The insurance stake is half the initial bet and insurance pays out at odds of 2 to 1. Therefore if the player has predicted correctly they will lose their original bet but receive double their insurance bet. Effectively this makes it an even money bet. The basic strategy of Blackjack indicates that it is better to never take insurance.
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