Whether you are someone who spends lots of time in casinos or someone who has never played a casino game in your life, you are likely to have heard about blackjack. This is a card game that people have enjoyed for centuries and has become one of the most popular games found at both land-based and online casinos today. A combination of easy-to-understand rules with a mix of luck and strategy sprinkled in makes blackjack an appealing game to beginners and professionals alike.
However, there are certain things you need to understand before you can enjoy the full potential of blackjack. Therefore, in this post, we’re going to look at the overall game of blackjack, and how the game is played, as well as some tips for beginners.
So, here we have it – a beginner’s guide to playing blackjack.
Blackjack is one of of a wide variety of games you can play at casinos. One of the best things about blackjack is that it is a simple game. The objective is to beat the dealer by having a hand closer to 21, without going over, which is called busting.
Let’s look at how a hand of blackjack is played:
- Placing Bets: Players sit around the blackjack table and place their bets on the next hand.
- Dealing Cards: The dealer then gives two cards to each player. In most versions of the game, these cards are dealt face-up. The dealer also receives two cards. However, one of the dealer’s cards is dealt face-up and the other is dealt face-down.
- Evaluating Hands: The goal of blackjack is to have a hand value closer to 21 than the dealer’s hand, without going over. The hand value is the total of the two cards, with the best possible hand being blackjack, which is a combination of an Ace (worth 1 or 11 points, depending on what favours the player) and a card with a value of 10 (10, Jack, Queen, or King).
- Player Decisions: Players now decide how to continue. Options include “hit”, which means to add another card to try to improve the hand, and can be repeated until the player is happy or goes over 21 and busts; “stand”, which means the player is happy with their hand and will not receive any more cards; “double down”, which means the player doubles their original bet and received one more card only; or “split”, which can be done if the player has two cards of the same value (for example, two 10s), and means the two cards are split into separate hands with their own bets. An extra card is then added to each new hand.
- Dealer Plays: The dealer then reveals their face-down card and must continue to hit until the hand is worth 17 or more.
- Winners and Losers: Once the dealer has completed their hand, it is compared to the player’s hand. If the dealer goes over 21, all remaining players win. If the dealer has a hand value closer to 21 than the player, the player loses. If the player has a hand value closer to 21 than the dealer, the player wins. If the dealer and the player have the same hand, this is called a “push”, and the bet value is returned to the player.
Tips for New Blackjack Players
Now we know how a hand of blackjack is played, there are a few tips below that could come in handy for beginner players. For a more detailed understanding of the rules, see this helpful beginners guide to blackjack.
When to Hit or Stand
It’s a good idea to follow a simple blackjack strategy when it comes to hitting or standing. You can find detailed explanations of these online, but they tend to include things like always hitting when your hand is worth 12-16 and the dealer has 7-Ace. This will give you the best chance of winning hands in the longer term.
When to Split Cards
Likewise, understanding when to split cards will give you a better chance of success in the longer term. Again, these instructions can be found online and will include things like always splitting Aces and 8s.
When to Double Down
Doubling down should only be done in situations where it gives you a better chance of beating the dealer. For example, you should double down if your hand’s value is 11 and the dealer has a lower-value card of 2-6. Once again, you can find full breakdowns of double-down strategies online, so it’s worth checking them out before you play.
How to Manage Your Bankroll
It’s important to decide how much money you are willing to lose and then stick to that amount. That way, playing blackjack will remain fun and affordable, rather than becoming a potential financial issue. Do not be tempted to chase losses or top up your bankroll.
Knowing When to Walk Away
Like the above tip, knowing when to walk away is important. That applies to both winning and losing scenarios. For example, you could agree that if you double your initial balance, you will happily walk away. Alternatively, if you lose half of your bankroll, you could decide to walk away to protect the remaining balance for another session. Building discipline like this will help you to protect any winnings, as well as prevent longer losing streaks in a single session.
Beginner Mistakes to Avoid
Finally, there are a few beginner mistakes to keep in mind, so you can do your best to avoid them. For example, consider the following:
- Ignoring Strategy: Playing without any strategy will increase the house’s edge and lead to unnecessary losses.
- Copying Dealer Strategy: Don’t be tempted to keep hitting until you reach a minimum of 17 if it doesn’t serve you well. Always play the hand that is in front of you.
- Waiting for 10s: Don’t simply assume that the next card with be a 10 because it can lead to unnecessary risky or even cautious moves.
- Following Emotions: Make sure you remain calm when playing blackjack. Chasing losses or placing large bets driven by emotion is a great way to lose everything and put yourself in potential financial difficulties.