Blackjack is one of the best casino games for beginners. You can learn the rules of the game in just a few minutes. What takes longer: Getting to grips with blackjack terms such as double down and split, or internalizing blackjack strategies such as basic strategy.
Already knew? Blackjack derives from the French Vingt-et-un (twenty-one), which itself is a successor to the Card game Trente-et-un (Thirty-One) is. Even during the lifetime of Louis XV. - in the 18th century - the precursors to blackjack were immensely popular.
Aim of the game in blackjack
Sometimes the object of the game in blackjack is misconstrued. Suddenly there is talk of getting as close as possible to 21 points. In fact, the aim is to trump the croupier without exceeding 21 points.
The precision is important. Even with 12 points - a meager score in blackjack - things are not hopeless. Basic strategy sometimes recommends not drawing another card with 12 points. What matters is which card the croupier has face up on. (The croupier must always reveal one of his cards.)
How a blackjack hand works
At the beginning of a game of blackjack, the croupier deals two cards to each player. These cards are face up. The croupier also receives two cards: one face up and the other face down.
The cards have different values. Face cards are worth 10 points, the ace 1 or 11 points. The other cards are scored as indicated: each two is worth 2 points, each three is worth 3 points, etc.
In turn, all players make decisions. Draw another card or hope that the croupier busts (= suffers a bust)?
Special options: With Double Down, the player doubles the previous bet and draws exactly one more card. Pairs can be split (= divided) and continued as two hands. If the croupier uncovers an ace, insurance is available - with it it is possible to insure yourself against a blackjack by the croupier (= 21 points with two cards).
If a player scores more points than the croupier, he gets double the stake as a win. Blackjack pays higher. In the event of a tie, the players get their stake back. Important: If player and croupier overplay their blackjack hands, the player loses. This will not be settled as a draw.
The croupier has no freedom of choice
One thing to consider. The croupier is always bound by instructions. This applies to blackjack in the casino as well as to Play blackjack online. The player is free to draw a card with 18 points, the croupier has to stop at 17 points. In contrast to the player, the croupier is not allowed to split his cards or force a higher bet.
This fidelity to the rules paves the way for blackjack strategy: Knowing how the croupier behaves with each score, the best possible approach can be calculated mathematically. From this, the basic strategy ultimately grew, which in each case specifies the best decision – double down, split, hit or stand.
Explanations of important blackjack terms
Hit - Draw another card.
Exhibition booth – stay “standing”; does not draw another card.
Double Down – Doubles the bet and draws another card; no way to draw more cards.
Split – Splits the blackjack hand; only available on dealt pairs.
Soft Drinks and Hard – Distinguishes hands formed with or without an ace.
Insurance – Insurance against a possible blackjack at the croupier.
Bust – Scored more than 21 points.
Side bet – Another word for side bet.
double Exposure – Denotes a blackjack variant in which both of the croupier’s cards are face up.
Perfect pairs, Royal Pairs, 21 + 3 etc. - Denotes various blackjack side bets.
Blackjack strategies for beginners
It is obvious that you don't want to draw a card with 20 points. It is more difficult for the player to decide with 13, 14 or 15 points: low score; high risk of overstimulating your own hand. In fact, the decision is usually quite narrow in favor of hit or stand. Mathematicians have calculated how often hits, stands, double downs and splits result in success with which cards against which dealer's cards.
Beginners do not have to do their own calculations or even counting cards like in the movie Rain Man to learn. With the help of easy-to-understand tables, the basic strategy can be applied within a few minutes.
Basic strategy dictates what to do in any blackjack hand, no matter how difficult. Important: It does not guarantee wins and does not reverse the house edge. What it does: It reduces the house edge to a minimum and maximizes the probability of winning.
A number of tables can be found online, from which it is possible to read off in a matter of seconds how which blackjack hand is to be played. With 12 points you don't draw any more cards if the croupier reveals a 4, 5 or 6. If the croupier has different scores, Hit is clearly the better choice. The basic strategy here is not intuitive. It is more understandable that with 10 and 11 points you almost always want to double.
The reading of the basic strategy is usually as follows: On the left on the vertical y-axis is the player's score - the horizontal x-axis compares these values with the croupier's score. There is usually a table for hard and soft hands, and a third for splitting pairs.
No side bets
With insurance or complex side bets such as perfect pairs or 21 + 3, the question arises as to whether and when these make sense. The short answer: never. Side bets offer seemingly higher payouts, but they drive up the house edge immensely.
Only in combination with card counting can insurance become profitable. Since these game situations are rare and card counting requires a lot of practice, beginners should refrain from side betting completely when playing blackjack games.
Counting cards gives you an advantage that can eliminate the house edge. The trick: The player gathers information about the rest of the cards in the deck by counting the cards played. As a rule, however, one does not count all the cards individually, but uses the Hi-Lo counting method. Cards that are worth 2 to 6 points are worth +1 in the count, while face cards, aces and any ten are worth -1. (7, 8 and 9 have a value of 0 in card counting.)
The count guides the player. For example, with a strong positive count, there are still many cards in the deck that are worth 10 or 11 points. This means: The probability of a blackjack increases.
To make card counting unprofitable, casinos use multiple decks. And: You shuffle these before all decks have been played. Online, the random number generator even shuffles the cards after each round.
How effective are betting systems?
Staking systems are attempts to guarantee winnings by adjusting the stake. A distinction is made between betting systems with positive progression - the stake is increased after winning - and negative progression. The most popular betting system with negative progression is martingale: You start with a basic bet and double it until a blackjack hand is won.
The problem with betting systems: Unlike basic strategy, they cannot contain the house edge. They only change the risk of the bets. Depending on the betting system, a higher profit potential opens up – in return, the risk of losing more money more quickly increases.
Practice creates masters
Understanding blackjack rules is not rocket science. On the contrary: they are easy to understand. The basic strategy game is more complex. Reading the tables is not a problem. However, it takes time to understand the logic behind the decisions. As in other areas of life, the same applies here: No blackjack ace fell from the sky. If you're willing to learn new things, you'll be making better blackjack decisions in no time.