Blackjack Basics

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One of the most popular games in any casino – live or online – is blackjack. Fortunes have been made or lost on this relatively simple yet intriguing game. The recent movie “21” brought to light a plan by MIT students to make money at blackjack. Over the years, many math-based gamblers have indeed found ways to succeed.

Because there is skill and decision-making involved in addition to luck, blackjack is an appealing game to players.

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The basic rules are simple; the suits of the cards are meaningless. Each card has a numerical value – cards 2-10 are valued at their face. Kings, jacks and queens are worth 10. Aces can be worth 1 or 11.

The idea is to come closest to 21 without going over and having a higher total than the dealer. You can get as many cards as necessary to achieve this. For instance, if you have an 18 and a jack, you have 18. If the dealer has two kings, he has 20, and you would lose. An ace gives a player more options to consider. For instance, a 5-A could be either 6 or 16. A player could take another card and make a determination from there.

A dealer’s hand usually shows one card face up (although there are some variations where both dealer cards are up). The down card is called a “hole card.”

There are many tools available to players who want to be successful at blackjack. There are basic card charts available that tell you what to do in each situation. These strategy guides are very useful for beginning players.

Remember, a blackjack hand can not go over 21. If it does, a player has “busted.” A two card hand that totals 21 is called blackjack, or a natural. This hand wins automatically, unless the dealer also has blackjack, in which case it is a push.

The key words to know at a blackjack table are “hit” – meaning you want another card, or “stand,” meaning you don’t.

Take some time to learn the basics of blackjack, and you might find you can be successful at this most popular of casino games.

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