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About Blackjack

The Objective Of Blackjack:
Your goal as a blackjack player is to end up with a hand total that is closer to 21 than the dealers hand - without going over 21. If you go over 21 you lose the hand (In blackjack terms you have BUSTED your hand if you go above 21.)

Blackjack is a game where your hand only plays against the dealers hand - so whatever the other players at the table have is not really of importance (unless you are counting the cards that is).

After you have been dealt your first cards, you can choose to HIT and thereby get yet another card dealt to your hand, or to choose STAND and simply keep the cards that you already have - hoping the hand will be strong enough to beat the dealers hand.

After all the players have played their blackjack hands, the dealer players his hand out. The dealer always plays his hand according to fixed rules - no decision is left up to the dealer. The dealer must always follow the same dictated rules for how to play his hand. This would normally mean that the dealer must draw cards until his hand has a value of 17 - On most blackjack tables it says "Dealer Must Stand On All 17's" - as soon as he get to that total or above he cannot take any more cards.

The Card Values:

* 2 to 9 - Are valued as indicated.
* ACE - Can be either 1 OR 11.
* 10's & Face cards - both have the value 10.
* The suit of the cards has no meaning in blackjack.
* A Blackjack is a two card hand consisting of an Ace and a card with the value 10.
* A Blackjack beats a 3 card hand with the value 21.

Soft Hands & Hard Hands
As an ACE can represent either the value 1 OR the value 11; which means getting a Ace in your hand is generally good as the risks of going over 21 gets smaller. When talking about a SOFT HAND, blackjack players are talking about a hand where an Ace is used with the value 1. For Example a hand consisting of ACE and 7 - can add up to the hand value 8 OR 18, depending on what value you give the ACE. The choice is yours, and you can change it back and forth as you please during the play of your hand.

A HARD hand is a hand with a ACE where you don't have the opportunity to use the ACE as a 1 OR 11. Example: If you have a ACE, 8 and 6 on your hand you can only count the ACE as a 1. Because otherwise you would have gone above 21 and thereby busted the hand. Counting the ACE as 1, the hands value adds up to 15. A hand consisting of ACE, 8 and 6 is called a HARD hand or sometimes a Stiff hand - because a hard hand is closer to busting then a soft hand is.

The Cards Are Dealt:
After all players have placed their bets on the table (in the wager box in front of them) the dealer starts out by giving each player 2 cards each. Starting to the dealers left - your right. The dealer also gives himself two cards - one of the dealers cards are dealt face-up so that you can se it's value, the other card is dealt face down and you will not see this card before the end of the round - when the dealer starts playing his hand.

Your Choices
After you have been dealt your first cards - it's time to decide how to play your blackjack hand the best possible way. Getting yet another card to the hand is an option, staying with your current hand total is another. If you have a pair of cards with the same value you can choose to split the hand into two separate blackjack hands: Or if your hands looks like a winner compared to the dealers hand - you can choose to double your bet size. Below you can read more about your different options when playing out the hand.

Choosing HIT will make the dealer give you another card.

Signaling HIT: If you are playing in a real brick and mortar casino, pointing with one finger to your existing cards on the table will indicate HIT and the dealer will give you yet another card. In a hand held game where you have your two first cards up on the hand - scraping your cards across the table felt lightly will also indicate a Hit. So be careful about pointing at the cards at the table and scratching your cards against the felt if you do not want another card.

If you don't want another card added to your hand, you choose to STAND. By choosing STAND you stop at your current hand total; this is the value that will be competing with the dealers hand.

If you are dealt a matching pair of cards you can choose to split this pair into two separate hands. In a shoe game this is done by placing another wager of the same size as your initial bet beside the stack of chips you initially wagered. The dealer will then split your hand into two separate hands for you. You should always split a pair of aces and pairs of 8's. For more advice on when to split pairs consult the blackjack chart.

If you believe that you have a stronger hand then the dealers hand you often have the opportunity to double your bet size - called a DOUBLE DOWN. Choosing this option will make the dealer give you one more card - and only one more card. However DOUBLING DOWN can only be done with your initial two card hand, before you are dealt additional cards. As an example; if your first two cards are 5 and 6 - adding up to 11, and the dealers Face-up card is a 6, your chances of winning that hand are very good and therefore you may choose to double your bet.

If the dealers Face-Up card is an ACE, the dealer will offer the players a chance to buy INSURANCE against the dealer getting a blackjack. Insurance bets can be made by betting half your original bet amount in the insurance betting strip in front of your bet. The dealer will check to see if he has a 10-valued card underneath his Ace, and if he does have Blackjack, your winning Insurance bet will be paid at odds of 2:1. You'll lose your original bet of course (unless you also have a Blackjack), so the net effect is that you break even (assuming you bet the full half bet for insurance - some tables will allow you to bet up to half, including less.) This is why the bet is described as "insurance", since it seems to protect your original bet against a dealer blackjack. Of course, if the dealer does not have blackjack, you'll lose the insurance bet, and still have to play the original bet out. The insurance bet is normally a poor bet for the player, with a high house advantage.

Not many casinos offers you this opportunity - but a few do. Surrendering offers you as a player the choice to fold your hand, at the cost of half of the original bet. If you wish to surrender your hand this must be done before starting to play your hand. There are two different kinds of surrender; EARLY SURRENDER and LATE SURRENDER. Early and late surrender differs in the way they handle a blackjack. In an EARLY SURRENDER game, a player may choose to surrender before the dealer checks his cards for a blackjack, offering a cheap way out even if the dealer turns out to have a blackjack. Because this offers a healthy advantage to the player, this version (early surrender) is rarely offered. The much more common variation is LATE SURRENDER, where the dealer checks for blackjack first, and then only if he does not have blackjack will allow players to surrender their hands.


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