Blackjack is one of the most popular card games in the world, especially in western countries. It has a long and interesting history with some twists and turns. It has some similarities in certain aspects with our Teen Patti. But on the whole, it is a unique and exciting game.
If you haven’t played blackjack, you are in the right place. This page will give you enough background information to grow your interest in the game. You can find here simple and straightforward details about blackjack such as the rules of the game, how to play it, charts, strategies, online options to play the game from India and answers to some frequently answered questions.
Hope this will be your moment of enlightenment with respect to blackjack. We will start with the rules of the game.
- Once you join, you get two cards to begin with. The other players too will get two cards, while the dealer will have one card at hand and another hidden. If you have an ace and one of the 10-point cards, you have hit jackpot. You’ve got 21. It’s called a blackjack. You get your winnings and deposit back.
- It is possible that the dealer can also have a blackjack, since multiple sets of cards (each with 52 cards) are used for the game. In that case, it is called a push. You get the deposited amount back, no winnings.
- Suppose no player or dealer has a blackjack. Then the game continues. The players can draw cards from the deck, starting from the extreme left of the dealer and moving in clockwise direction. A player has many options when his or her turn comes:
- Hit: This is simply taking another card. You do this if you have a good chance of beating the dealer. You do this normally when the total points of the two cards on your hand are on the lower side. That is, when you are reasonably convinced that taking another card will not take your total points beyond 21.
- Stand: You are not taking any card. Let the dealer take a card. It must be noted that stand option is not available to the dealer. You opt for stand when your points tally is on the higher side and there is every chance of it crossing 21 if you take another card.
- Double: Here you are doubling your bet and taking only one more card. For instance, if you originally punted for 1000 Rupees, you need to pay 1000 Rupees more to opt for double down. You can have only one more draw. You do this when you are reasonably sure that the next draw has to be your last draw.
- Split: It gives you the option of playing with both hands. For this, both your initial cards must be having the same points. You also need to deposit the same amount again. The advantage is that you have two sets of cards to deal with. Each set will be treated as a separate hand.
- Surrender: If you feel your hand is weak and the dealer’s hand is strong (you can see one of dealer’s cards), you have the option of quitting and limiting the damage to some extent. If you surrender, you need to indicate it at the start of the game, not later. There will be no option for surrender if dealer gets a blackjack. In the case of surrender, you will lose half your deposit. Or in other words, you manage to rescue half of your deposit.
- Blackjack is played between you (the player) and the house (the dealer). There will be other players in the fray, up to a maximum of seven. While the cards on their hands can influence the cards that come your way, there is no competition among the players.
- The aim of the player in blackjack is to get an amount higher than the dealer when the game ends, without exceeding 21 points.
- In blackjack, each card has got a point. Cards with numbers 2 to 9 have their own value as points. That is, card with 2 has two points, card with 3 has three points, card with 4 has four points, and so on until card with 9 has nine points. Card with 10 has ten points too. King, queen and jack also fetch 10 points each. Ace can have either 10 or 1 point, as the player wishes according to the situation.
- You can play for real money on several online casinos. You get odds of 3:2 (some casinos give 6:5). That is, if you buy slots for 1000 Rupees and manage to beat the dealer, you get 1500 Rupees [1000 x (3/2)] as winnings, apart from your original deposited amount of 1000 Rupees. If the result is the other way around, you simply lose your deposit amount. Some other results too are possible. But these two are the most basic results.
The game concludes if either the player or the dealer goes beyond 21 points. Whoever exceeds 21 points will lose. It is called busting. If none of them go beyond 21 points, the party with higher points within or equal to 21 emerges victorious. If the dealer loses, you get winnings in the same 3:2 manner (or 6:5, as the case may be). If you lose, you can kiss goodbye to your deposit amount.
Insurance bet, as the name implies, is a kind of insurance policy to limit the damage. Suppose if the dealer has an ace or a 10-point card as the open card. The dealer will secretly check the hidden card. If the hidden card is another 10-point card or an ace, it is going to be blackjack for dealer. The player will lose the deposit.
Blackjack insurance comes into play here. You have the option of choosing insurance bet if dealer has an ace or a 10-point card. It is a side bet, meaning it is unrelated to the final outcome. It is in fact a bet on whether the dealer has a blackjack or not when opening the hidden card. By opting for the insurance bet, you are punting in favor of dealer getting a blackjack. The insurance bet amount is half the original amount that is deposited.
So, if the dealer gets a blackjack, the player opted for insurance bet does not lose anything. But if the dealer does not get blackjack, the insurance bet is lost. That is exactly why many experts advocate that insurance bet may not be taken. The chances of dealer having a blackjack are statistically rather low. While blackjack insurance appears a fascinating sub plot, it can turn out to be a needless irritant.
Blackjack chart must be your essential companion while playing the game. You can see an example chart below.
There is something called basic strategy in blackjack (more about it in the next section). The blackjack chart is a pictorial representation of the basic strategy. The chart tells the player to what to do next, based on the cards at the player’s hand and the open cards of the dealer.
As you can see from the below picture, there are instructions like S (stand), H (hit), and D (double) for every particular card value with the player and dealer.
BLACKJACK BASIC STRATEGY
Four US mathematicians, Roger Baldwin, Wilbert Cantey, Herbert Maisel and James McDermott, proposed the basic strategy way back in 1957, that is, a mere 10 years after India’s independence. When it was published in a scientific journal called Journal of American Statistical Association, it was not given much importance by the players or casinos then.
The mathematicians actually arrived at the strategy by simply playing the game, writing down the positions and results, and then crunching the numbers. The basic strategy gave rise to the blackjack chart given above.
The basic strategy became significant when card counting techniques were introduced. Coupled with card counting, basic strategy practically changed the fortune of blackjack as a game. The new strategy and technique together made blackjack more ‘winnable’ for players among card games. Or it appeared so.
It resulted in a massive surge of the game’s popularity. The casino owners took evasive action quickly by introducing their own tweaks to suppress the impact of basic strategy and card counting. The crudest among them is to ban or blacklist a continuously successful player.
There is no absolute guarantee of winning by following the basic strategy. But it has been conclusively proven that basic strategy can minimize the losses and maximize the winnings in the longer term.
n 1962, five years after basic strategy was published, another US mathematician, named Edward O Thorp, introduced a cards counting technique based on basic strategy. He in fact elaborated the technique in a best-selling book titled Beat the Dealer: A Winning Strategy for the Game of Twenty One. As mentioned earlier, it changed people’s approach towards blackjack.
Putting basic strategy and counting technique to use while playing blackjack in a casino requires exceptional concentration and keenness. Many failed, some did succeed, forcing casino owners to look for options to prevent the latter from playing.
The fundamental premise of counting technique, based on basic strategy, is the following. The lower numbered cards (2-6) are of higher value to the player, while the higher-valued cards (10, J, Q, K and A) are of higher value to the dealer. The players need to count the lower-valued cards that were in circulation to figure out the probability of getting those cards.
Later, the originally proposed counting technique was modified to introduce a much easier SiLo method of counting. In this technique, cards with numbers 2-6 are given a value of +1; 7,8 and 9 are neutral; and 10, J, Q, K and A have a value of +1. The count starts from zero. Add +1 or -1 based on the card in action.
At any given point, if you have a positive value of count, the chances of getting a favourable card are high.
The counting techniques are valid only for offline blackjack at casinos. For online blackjack, the technique does not offer much chance because the cards are automatically shuffled after each round.
You can play online blackjack from India. It is a good way to use all these ‘gyan’ you have learnt from this how to play blackjack guide. Find below a comparison table of online casinos offering blackjack for Indian users. The comparison here is mainly based on special offers and minimum deposit and withdrawal amounts.