BlackJack For Beginners
As Kevin Spacey’s character, Micky, from the movie 21 says, Blackjack is really simply — “You play against the dealer. You’re given two cards, face cards are worth ten points. The closest to 21 wins. If you go over, you lose; if the dealer goes over, they lose.” Of course, he was speaking to a mathematical genius and the intricacies of the game are slightly more complicated, but his basic premise is correct: Blackjack is a simple game. It’s also the most popular card game in the world.
Here are the basic rules:
- The object of the game is to beat the dealer which can be done in a few ways:
- Getting 21 points on the player’s first two cards (called a blackjack), without a dealer blackjack;
- Reach a final score higher than the dealer without exceeding 21; or
- Let the dealer draw additional cards until his or her hand exceeds 21.
- The way points are determined is by adding the value of the cards you are dealt. Face cards are worth ten points, aces can be counted as either 1 or 11, and all the other cards are worth their number value.
- After receiving your initial two cards, players have the option of “hitting,” or taking an additional card. You would do this in an effort to get as close to 21 as possible, without going over.
- If you go over 21, you “bust” and lose.
- The dealer has to keep hitting until they have at 17.
Now that you know the basic rules, here are some basic strategy tips provided by gambling expert John Marchell:
- Stand when your hand is 12-16 when the dealer has 2-6.
- Hit when your hand is 12-16 when the dealer has 7-Ace.
- Always split Aces and 8s.
- Double 11 versus the dealer’s 2-10.
- Hit or double Aces-6.
Marchell mentions two key Blackjack strategies there: “split” and “double.” Splitting means, anytime your first two cards are the same value, such as an ace and an ace, you may split them and play two separate hands. “Double” refers to doubling down which allows you to bet up to an amount equal to your original wager on the draw of a single card. The table limit sign will tell you what two cards you are allowed to double down on. You need to turn your cards over to indicate a double down, usually done when the player has two cards that total 10 or 11. Marchell suggests always doubling down when you have 11 versus the dealer’s 2 through 10.
The best way to hone your Blackjack skills is to practice. Use this primer to get you started, but perfect your skills by hitting the tables. Start at low-stakes games and work your way up. Before you know it, you might just find yourself counting cards in Vegas with Kevin Spacey’s crew.