Blackjack is one of the most popular card games in the world! It’s not the most complex card game, but there is more strategy involved than you might first think. The game is similar to the 21 card game and the British game Pontoon.
Many people get these games confused, but there are some critical differences between them. Blackjack is very popular in American casinos but can easily be played at home as well. So, before we talk about how to play Blackjack, let’s take a look at the game’s history.
What is Blackjack?
Blackjack, like many card games, has a bit of a mysterious origin. No one knows precisely when the game was created, but it is commonly believed the game was created in Spain. Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes wrote about characters playing Blackjack in one of his short stories.
This dates the game to at least the early 17th century. Although others believe the game was created much later during the 1800s when gambling houses added their own twist to the 21 card game. Which, over time, created Blackjack as we know it today!
The aim of Blackjack is simple at first glance. You need to build a hand that reaches 21 points without going over. Or get as close to a score of 21 as you can. Under standard Blackjack rules, every player will be going against the dealer, not each other.
This makes it an excellent game for groups of people, and all you need to play is a deck of cards. Blackjack can also be a fun two-player card game and even a fun drinking game for down at the pub. Before we look over the rules and strategy, let’s take a quick look at what you need to play Blackjack.
What You’ll Need To Play
To play Blackjack, all you will need is a deck of cards. So, if you are looking for a game you can play on the go and set up anywhere, Blackjack would make a fine choice. Now any kind of playing cards can be used, but we think it’s best to stick to the traditional designs, at least for your first few games.
Playing cards are timeless, so finding some should be pretty straightforward. We recommend these Maverick playing cards. Once you have your cards, you’re ready to play, so let’s take a look at the rules and strategies you need to know.
Blackjack Rules and Gameplay
The Aim of The Game
Blackjack is a game with a simple objective. Player’s need to build a hand of as close to 21 points as possible. Scoring 21 will be pretty tricky, but you can win without hitting 21 at all! If you’re lucky, then you could even win with a much lower score too.
Blackjack can be played with between 2 – 8 players, and players won’t be playing against each other. They’ll all be playing against the dealer. So, let’s first take a look at the setup required for a game of Blackjack.
The first thing to do is select a dealer. The dealer can be chosen anyway, but if you’re having trouble choosing one, every player should draw a card from a shuffled deck. The player with the highest card will then be the dealer.
Once the dealer has been chosen, they should shuffle the deck well. Make sure the Joker cards are removed beforehand. If you like, you can use an automatic card shuffler; this could be a helpful piece of equipment for longer Blackjack games.
The dealer should ideally be seated in front of the other players. Once the deck is ready, the dealer should begin dealing cards. Players are dealt two cards, each one at a time. Player’s cards should always be dealt face-up.
The dealer should also deal two cards to themselves, one at a time. The dealer should keep one of their cards face-down so it can’t be seen. They can choose which of their cards they keep face-down. Under traditional rules, it will always be the first card they deal face-down.
Once the cards are dealt, each player can choose to “hit” or stay. If players decide to hit, they are dealt another card. Under traditional Blackjack rules, this can only be done through hand signals. During the play, no one should be talking, although casual at-home games usually relax this rule.
However, if you want to play like you would in a casino, then a hit is requested by tapping the table. While a stay is shown by waving your hand. If a player requests another card, the dealer should deal a card face-up.
If a player’s hand goes over 21 points during this phase of the game, they are bust. This means they are out of the game. Once every player has completed their play, the dealer will turn over their face-down card.
If the dealer’s total is less than 17 points, they must deal themselves another card. Once the dealer’s hand is over 17 points, they must stay. The dealer can go bust during this part of the game, which means any player still in the game wins. However, if the dealer total beats any player’s hands, they win.
Depending on the dealer’s hand value, they could beat all the players or just some of them. Now that’s the basics of how Blackjack is played. But let’s go over the card values and a few other essential rules worth knowing.
The Card Values
Learning the card values for Blackjack is pretty simple. The numbered cards have their face value. The Jack, Queen, and King cards also all have a 10 point value. The Ace card is where things get a little more complicated.
The Ace can be worth either 1 point or 11 points. The player/ dealer who gets the Ace can decide how they want to use it. Because of this extra versatility, the Aces are often considered the most valuable cards in the game.
So, you might be wondering why is this game even called Blackjack? Well, this is because of what happens if you get the best hand possible. If a player is dealt 21 in their first hand, then they will immediately win the round. This is called a Blackjack, and while uncommon, it can happen.
You can employ many strategies in Blackjack, especially when it comes to casino play, which often uses more decks of cards. However, for at-home games, the best strategy is to play cautiously.
17 is the magic number for Blackjack as it is often the safest number in the game. Many people who hit 17 will want to take another card; however, sticking at 17 is the safer option. Because the odds of going bust from 17 are relatively high.
So, instead of focusing on 21, try to get your hand as close to 17 as you can. Of course, if you manage to get over 17 in your first hand without going bust, we highly recommend sticking. It’s always tempting to get another card, but it will rarely work out in your favor.
Blackjack – The Classic Card Banking Game
So, that finishes up our guide on the classic card game Blackjack! If you’re looking for a fun card game that you can play almost anywhere, then Blackjack would make a fine choice. Blackjack is simple to learn but challenging to master, and while luck certainly plays a part, there is a lot of strategy involved as well.