As for the value of cards, the value of cards two to ten is their face value.
Face cards (Jack, Queen, and King) are all worth ten.
Aces can be valued one or eleven points, depending on which value is needed. A hand with an ace valued as 11 is called “soft”, which means that the hand will not bust by taking an additional card. The value will become one to prevent the hand from exceeding 21. Otherwise, the hand is “hard”.
A hand’s value is obviously a sum of these card values.
If in your first two cards you get an ace and a ten, it gives you sum of 21. This is then called blackjack or a natural. This means you automatically win unless the dealer has the same score.
If you don’t have a blackjack, you are given a few options.
The first thing is to check the two cards you have in hand and the dealer’s face-up card (if you are playing this variant with a face-up card) and then you can see what decision to make.
HIT: You can ask for the third card. And you can keep asking for a hit until you decide to stand or else bust
STAND: You can decide that you are not taking any additional cards. If you are not taking any additional cards, the dealer can then play his or her hand.
DOUBLE DOWN: You can double the amount of your bet + an extra card + stand
SPLIT: If you have two cards which have the same value, you can split them into two separate hands. This means that the bet is the same as the original, but basically you are doubling your bet.
SURRENDER: You can surrender half your bet if you think that it is possible to lose the hand.
INSURANCE*: If the dealer’s card which is face up is an Ace, you can take insurance. This means a bet which is half the value of your original bet. In essence, you are wagering on the dealer getting a blackjack.
As for the dealer’s hand, these would be some rules:
- The dealer is the automatic winner if you bust or surrender
- The dealer wins if his total hand value is 21 or closest to 21
- If the dealer has a total of 16 or less, he or she must hit
- If the dealer has a total of 18 or more, he or she must stand
- If the dealer has a hard 17, he or she must stand
- If the dealer has a soft 17, he or she must hit
*Please read on, to see what insurance exactly is. This is what really makes the game intriguing and engaging.
The side bet’s main purpose is to protect your hand against the possibility of the dealer having a blackjack. Because if the dealer has a blackjack it automatically means that the player loses.
If a dealer’s card which is face up has a point value of 10, he or she will first want to check if he or she has a blackjack.
However, if a dealer has an Ace as an upcard, before looking at the other card, the dealer needs to ask the players at the table if they would like to take insurance.
If the player wishes to make this side bet, they must place an extra bet of half the initial bet on the table.
When all the players make a decision, then the dealer can check what is his/her second card and whether he/she has a blackjack.
Now, if the dealer has a blackjack, those players who took out insurance will lose the original bet.
However, they win the insurance bet and collect odds of 2:1.
Ultimately the player has come out even on the hand.
This means that the player does not win more money, but neither will he or she lose any money.
On the other hand, if the dealer still does not have a blackjack, the players who took insurance now lose their insurance bet and the hand continues as normal.
When it comes to insurance, there is also a catch. The insurance is taken so that you can protect yourself in case the dealer has a blackjack, but even though insurance might look like a really great deal, the percentages are different.
It all depends on the number of decks used in the game. The house edge on the insurance side bet varies:
Single deck – 5.9%
Double deck – 6.8%
4 decks – 7.25%
6 decks – 7.40%
8 decks – 7.47%
The insurance bet is by far in favor of the house. The percentages above ultimately reflect how likely the casino is to win the bet.
Let’s put it into perspective. Imagine you place a €100 insurance bet, the casino will win €106 if you lose. This means that for every €100 wagered on insurance, you are only to get back €94, losing €6 in the process.
The best advice would be to take insurance when you hold a 21 in hand, you will probably want to insure it.
When you have a blackjack at the same time as the dealer, this is called push.
When a push happens, you don’t receive any money for your blackjack.
If, in this case, you take out insurance, it will result in a push, but you will collect 2:1 thanks to the insurance side bet. If the dealer does not have a blackjack, you are losing the insurance bet, but collecting 3:2 on the blackjack.
Once you are familiar with all the rules, you may start applying certain strategies for more advanced players. This means you will be able to know when to double down, when to play hard and soft hands, etc.
Experienced blackjack players know when to use insurance and when not to. Taking insurance at an appropriate time can reduce the house edge albeit by a small margin.
- One interesting thing you can do when playing Blackjack is to play multiple hands. You can often see pro blackjack players playing multiple hands at the table. They do this to inject some fun into the game. If you, for instance, play two hands at the same time, you are increasing your chances of winning because you are placing two bets instead of one. However, try not to be tempted to play multiple hands continuously because it can end up costing you big especially if you have a smaller bankroll.
- Like in all other casino games, you have to watch for your bankroll. For instance, you can take smaller bets and thus reduce or even eliminate completely your chance of being ruined at the table. To be sure about your bankroll you need to know what you are doing but also what other players are doing. You need to follow the game. “You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em”
- Many gamblers would tell you that to play the game you have to be “read people’s faces”. It means to decide on your strategy based on how shy or bold your opponents appear to be. If all the players are making small bets, it would be best to make a large bet.
If, on the other hand, there are few who bet on larger sums, it would be best to bet just enough to maximize your bankroll you are risking. It is said that by making smaller bets continuously with a couple of opportunities to make bigger bets, you can fight both styles of players at the table.
Keep this in mind also when you are the one winning. It can give a chance to your opponents to surpass you. Although you will still keep coming across poor cards and you will be surpassed from time to time, the trick is to risk a medium-sized bet to match the players who are ahead.
When it comes to your way of betting, it is said that the best way is to use a mix of small and large bets, since the players who are placing medium-sized bets usually don’t take a lot of money. Placing a medium-sized bet should only be for one of two reasons: either you are in the lead or your bet is big enough to help you accomplish a pertaining goal.