At a casino blackjack table, the dealer faces five to seven playing positions from behind a semicircular table. We no longer have the option to count the Ace as 11, because that would go over There are many subtle reasons for this but the most significant are:. Card Counting provides the player a mathematically provable opportunity to gain an advantage over the house. However, when splitting aces, each ace gets only one card.
Part 2 – Player Choices
That payoff will wipe out the loss from the initial wager. If the dealer does have 21, the player will lose the initial bet but will receive a 1: If both have 21, most blackjack rules say that is a push. Some casino 21 rules, though, give ties to the dealer when it comes to a blackjack. In most cases, though, a push results in the player getting back his or her wager. If the dealer does not have blackjack, anyone who bought insurance will lose that amount, regardless how the rest of the hand plays out.
It is important to note that players have a variety of options to choose from after their first two cards are dealt. The decisions they make should take into account the cards held by other players at the table, as well as the dealer.
In most cases, a player normally stands when the point value of their cards is between 16 and If a dealer has less than 17, they must continue drawing cards until they reach 17 or above, without going over If the scores of the player and the dealer are equal, the player receives their original bet back, and this is a push. Should the dealer bust or go over 21 at any point, all the players at the table will win and receive a 1: Any player who had blackjack would have already been paid out at least 3: Depending on the casino, some will let players cut their losses by surrendering half their bets after the initial deal.
An early surrender allows the player to surrender when a 10 or face card is drawn without checking the hole-card for blackjack. That could be preferable if the dealer is showing a particularly strong hand, like an Ace. A late surrender allows the player to surrender after checking the hole-card, but before the dealer reveals his or her hand. Many players view the early surrender as more favorable, especially if the dealer is showing an Ace.
For example, virtually all players of 21 will split a pair of Aces by placing an additional bet to create two potentially winning hands. After receiving two more cards, the player determines whether to hit or stand with each of the two hands he or she now has. Depending on the cards dealt, splitting your cards can double your chances of hitting a blackjack. Splitting cards can also at least double your potential winnings from the same initial hand dealt.
Most will not split a pair of cards worth 20 points, for example, while all will split a pair of Aces. Another popular play that could double your potential winnings—and losses—on a particular hand is the double down. The double down allows you to double your wager after the initial bet, but you only get one more card. Many skilled players use a strict system based on statistical probability to determine the ideal times to double down.
As with splitting cards, that assessment includes what the dealer is showing off the deal, plus other cards that might already have gone into play. The number of decks used also affects the ideal strategy for playing 21 and considering when to double down on your bet. Many casinos play by the traditional 21 rules that were once popular on the Las Vegas Strip, which is traditionally called American 21 Or Vegas Rules.
These games are more common online and at small casinos that focus on locals. Yet, the game has many other versions with their own subtle rules changes. This rule is not favorable to the player because doubling down with a soft is favorable in a lot of situations when playing Most countries outside the U.
That leaves an extra card in the deck for the players to get, and it could be an Ace at just the right time. They are not offered at all tables and are more common online than offline. The only side bet that is standard at just about all tables is insurance.
There are a very wide variety of blackjack side bets. Side wagers almost universally have a much higher house edge than the game of blackjack itself and are usually not regarded as a good bet for the average player. They can be put to use by skilled card counters in certain situations, however. No matter which types of blackjack rules your favorite land-based and online casinos use, you can adapt your game to the rules and stand a better chance of winning more often.
At a live casino , the table limits are usually posted prominently on a sign at the table. The rules may be printed on the table, or you may have to ask the dealer about them.
At brick and mortar, policy varies from property to property, but it is very common for casinos to allow players to use strategy cards. Some properties may not want it placed on the table, however as part of a general policy of not allowing anything on the table.
Some may also ask players to put it away if other players feel it is slowing down the game too much. However, they also tend to make up for this with very poor payout rates for natural blackjacks, and also may give the dealer the win with certain types of pushes. If you sit down and do the math, 21 variants and oddball blackjack games usually end up having a more unfavorable house edge than standard blackjack, even though the rules might seem more liberal at first.
Yes, they make a huge difference. Changing the blackjack payout to 6: No rule change at blackjack gives the house more of an advantage other than allowing the dealer to win pushes. To the average blackjack player who is not counting cards, it makes very little difference in terms of expected return and house edge.
Card counters want as few decks as possible to simplify their counts, however. Some blackjack tables have a practice of discarding the first card from each new shoe before beginning play.
Rules about seeing this card vary from place to place, sometimes even from dealer to dealer. If either hand receives a second card of matching rank the player may be offered the option to split again, though this depends on the rules in the casino.
Generally the player is allowed a maximum of 4 hands after which no further splits are allowed. The split hands are played one at a time in the order in which they were dealt, from the dealer's left to the delaer's right.
The player has all the usual options: A player who splits Aces is usually only allowed to receive a single additional card on each hand. Normally players are allowed to split two non-matching value cards, for example a King and a Jack. If Aces are split and the player draws a Ten or if Tens are split and the player draws an Ace, the resulting hand does not count as a Blackjack but only as an ordinary In this case the player's two-card 21 will push tie with dealer's 21 in three or more cards.
Surrender — Most casinos allow a player to surrender, taking back half their bet and giving up their hand. Surrender must be the player's first and only action on the hand. In the most usual version, known as Late Surrender, it is after the dealer has checked the hole card and does not have a Blackjack.
After all players have completed their actions the dealer plays their hand according to fixed rules. First they will reveal their down card. The dealer will then continue to take cards until they have a total of 17 or higher.
This rule will be clearly printed on the felt of the table. If the dealer busts all non-busted player hands are automatically winners. If a player wins a hand they are paid out at 1: If the player has Blackjack they are paid at 3: This effectively results in a push overall for the hand. In some casinos the players' initial two-card hands are dealt face down. All additional cards dealy to the player are given face up.
The initial cards are revealed by the player if the hand goes bust, or if the player wishes to split a pair. Otherwise the dealer reveals the cards at the end of the round when it is time to settle the bets. This style of game is rare nowadays: Dealer's second card is dealt after all players have acted, and the dealer checks for Blackjack at this point.
Player Blackjacks are paid at the end of the round if the dealer does not have Blackjack. If the dealer has Blackjack the rules regarding Doubled and Split hands vary from casino to casino. Some casinos will take both bets while others will only take the initial bet and return the other. It should be noted that some casinos have started to offer a reduced payout on Blackjack, most commonly 6: This is very bad for the player, increasing the House Edge significantly.
Any game offering a reduced payout on Blackjack should be avoided by players. The maximum number of hands that can be created by splitting depends on the rules in the casino: When splitting 10 value cards, not all casinos will allow players to split non-matching 10 cards. For instance, in some casinos you could split two Jacks but could not split a King and a Jack. Also, some casinos will limit which card ranks can be split. House rules will dictate whether the player is allowed to Double after splitting, and whether a player who splits Aces is allowed to receive more than one additional card on a hand.
A few casinos may offer Early Surrender in which the player can take back half of their bet and give up their hand before the dealer checks for Blackjack. This is very rare nowadays. In European style games There is normally no Surrender option. If Surrender were offered it would of course have to be Early Surrender. The side rule is rarely offered.
When it is in effect, a player who collects a hand of five cards two cards plus three hits without going bust is immediately paid even money, irrespective of the dealer's hand. Blackjack can be played at home, rather than in a casino. In this case a fancy Blackjack table is not needed: Unless the players have agreed in advance that the host should deal throughout, to ensure a fair game the participants should take turns to be the dealer.
The turn to deal can pass to the next player in clockwise order after every hand or every five hands or whatever the players agree. If playing with a single deck of cards, it is desirable to re-shuffle the cards after every hand. Nightclubs and pubs in Sweden often offer a Blackjack variant that is less favourable to the players. All the essential rules are the same as in the casino version unless the player and dealer have an equal total of 17, 18 or In the casino version the player's stake is returned in these situations, but in Swedish pubs the house wins.
First and foremost, as a general rule the player should never take Insurance. Unless using an advanced and mathematically proven strategy that will alert the player to the rare situations in which Insurance is worthwhile, it should be avoided as a bad bet for the player. Next, it should be understood that every possible combination of player hands and dealer up card has a mathematically correct play.
These can be summarized in what is known as a Basic Strategy table. However, certain plays in the table need to be modified according to the specific combination of rules in force. To be sure of playing correctly, it is necessary to generate a Basic Strategy table for the specific rules of the game being played.
Various tools are available online to do this. We would recommend this Blackjack Basic Strategy Calculator. It should be noted that even playing perfect Basic Strategy for the rule set in play, the player will still usually be at a disadvantage.
Card Counting provides the player a mathematically provable opportunity to gain an advantage over the house. It must be understood that this does not guarantee that the player will win.
Just as a regular player may win though good luck despite playing at a disadvantage, it is perfectly possible for the Card Counter to lose through an extended period of bad luck even though playing with a small advantage over the House. The basic premise of Card Counting is that mathematically speaking, low cards on average are beneficial to the dealer while high cards favour the player. There are many subtle reasons for this but the most significant are:. So the Card Counter looks for times when there are more high cards left to be played than a regular deck would have.
Rather than trying to remember each card that has been played, the Card Counter will usually use a ratio system that offsets cards that are good for the player against cards that are good for the dealer.
The most commonly used Card Counting system is the HiLo count , which values cards as follows:. To keep track the player starts at zero, adds one to the total every time a low card is played and subtracts one from the total when a high card is played. It may seem counter-intuitive to subtract one for high value cards that are good for the player, but a high card that has been played is one less high card that is left to be played.
Where the Running Count is positive the player knows that there are more player favourable cards remaining to be played. When kept correctly the Running Count will start at 0 and, if all the cards were to be played out, would end at 0.
This is because there are an equal number of high cards and low cards. Card Counting systems are generally not impeded by the addition of multiple decks to the game.
At any rate multiple decks do not make it significantly more difficult for the Card Counter to keep track of the Running Count, since the Card Counter only needs to keep track of a single number, the Running Count.
However many decks are used, the count begins at zero and would end at zero if there were no cards left, so no changes need to be made to the counting process. Where multiple decks do make a difference is in how much impact a positive Running Count has to the player advantage.
If there are 5 decks remaining to be played there are only 2 extra player favourable cards in each deck. To estimate the strength of the player advantage the Running count therefore needs to be divided by the number of decks remaining to be played. This figure is called the True Count. With the True Count the player has a consistent measure of how many extra player favourable cards are contained within the cards remaining to be dealt.
The player can use this information to vary their bet and playing strategy. Deviations from Basic Strategy are far less important than placing big bets when the True Count is high and low bets or preferably nothing when the True count is low or negative. It is important to note that sizing your bet correctly is critical to your long term success as a card counter. This requires substantial additional knowledge that is beyond the scope of this article. Instead we refer interested readers to the books listed below for an insight into this complex aspect of card counting.
While Card Counting is legal in most jurisdictions, for obvious reasons casinos do not like players that can consistently beat them.
They therefore employ counter measures and any players they identify as Card Counters will be asked to leave the casino. The most common method used to identify Card Counters is to watch for a large bet spread difference between the minimum and maximum bet a player uses and to see whether large bets correlate with player favourable counts.
Card Counters have developed several methods to help them avoid detection. The two most common are:. There are several variations on team play designed to be employed in different situations and to different effects. These are covered more fully in the reading resources detailed below. Successful Card Counting is generally only profitable in land based casinos, not in online games.