Blackjack is a card game that comes in many different variants, so it is very important that you check out the specifics for the table where you wish to play. Generally speaking, it is a game where the goal is to get 21 points and where any hand worth 22 points or more is worthless. Your hand is compared to the dealer’s hand, since you are playing against the house – not against other players at the table.
A few examples of rules that are good to check up in advance:
- How many decks will be used? (Anything from 1 deck to 8 decks is common.)
- What happens in the event of a tie between you and the dealer? In some casinos, the player actually lose their money on a tie, or on a tie below a certain point value.
- When is the dealer obliged to take a another card and when is she obliged to stay? How about soft hands? This information is often written on the blackjack table, e.g. “Dealer draws at soft 17”.
- Is there any particular hand that pays extra money when it wins, e.g. Ace of spades + King of Spades, 7-7-7, or a player hand consisting of more than five cards?
- Are you allowed to split hands an unlimited number of times?
What’s my hand worth?
Blackjack is played with a special point system, where the cards in the 2-10 span are worth their numerical value, Jacks, Queens and Kings are worth 10 points each, and the ace is worth 1 point or 11 points – depending on what’s best for the hand.
Here’s a list:
|Ace||1 or 11 points, depending on what’s best for the hand|
- A hand consisting of a five and an eight is worth 5 points + 8 points = 13 points.
- A hand consisting of a ten and a queen is worth 10 points + 10 points = 20 points.
- A hand consisting of a five, and eight and four is worth 5 + 8 + 4 = 17 points.
- A hand consisting of an ace, four and a nine is worth 1 points + 4 points + 9 points = 14 points because in this situation, the ace couting as 1 point is best for the hand. (11 points + 4 points + 9 points = 24 points. A hand worth 22 points or more is automatically worthless in Blackjack.)
What’s a blackjack?
Blackjack isn’t just the name of the game, it is also the name of a particular hand – the best hand possible.
A blackjack consists of an ace + any 10 point card. This hand outranks any other 21 point hand. Example: Your hand is Jack + Ace while the dealer’s hand is eight + eight + five. Both hands amount to 21 points each, but your hand outranks the dealer’s hand since your hand is a blackjack. You win and the house loses.
When you win with a blackjack, you also get paid better than when you win with any other hand. In most casinos, standard wins pay 1:1 on your wager, while a blackjack win gets paid 3:2. This means that on a €100 wager, you get paid €150 when you win with a blackjack.
Why is it called blackjack?
Back in the days, this game was simply called twentyone, not blackjack. In the United States, gambling halls started adding various gimicks to the game to make it more appealing to players. You might for instance get a special payment on a hand consiting of 7-7-7 or on a hand that contained more than four cards without exceeding 21 points. One of these gimmicks was a special pay for a hand consiting of an Ace + Jack of Spades. It became known as the Black Jack Hand. In some casinos, this concept grew to include both the Jack of Spades and the Jack of Clubs, since they are both black (as opposed to red). Either way, this gimmick proved to be especially popular among gamblers, and more and more gambling halls incorporated the rule. Eventually, people started to refer to the game as Black Jack rather than Twentyone.
Today, most casinos that offer the game blackjack count any hand consisting of Ace + a ten point card as a blackjack, regardless of the rank and suit of the ten point card. So, the hand Ace of Diamonds + Queen of Hearts will also be a blackjack, eventhough it contains no black cards and no Jack.