Blackjack, also known as twenty-one, has been around for centuries. When it first came to America, the game was still called 21. Casinos in Nevada are cited to be where the name change occurred. Nevada was the first state to legalize gambling in 1931 and in order to increase interest in the game the casinos offered ten-to-one odds. The catch was that the winner had to hold the Ace of Spades and either a Jack of Clubs or Spades, hence a black jack. Unfortunately for the players, the ten-to-one payout was withdrawn but winning hands now include any ace plus a face or ten card of any suit or color.
When choosing a blackjack table to join, pay attention to the betting limits. Most tables will have signs showing the minimum and maximum bets for that game. When you’ve selected your table, wait for a shuffle break to join. Place your money on the table as dealers will not take anything out of your hand. The dealer will exchange your cash for chips.
After all the players have placed their bets, the dealer makes two passes around the table starting at his left to leave each player with two cards. The dealer’s own first card will be face up but the second will be face down and the players’ cards may either be face up or face down.
The object of the game is to have card totals closer to 21 than the dealer’s without busting, or exceeding 21. You are not playing against others next to you at the table, you are betting against the dealer. The dealer will offer additional cards to the players and it’s up to the player whether they want to hit, stand, double down, split, or surrender.
In blackjack, the value of cards are as follows: Ace can be high at 11 or low as 1, cards 2 through 9 are at face value, and 10, Jack, Queen, and King are all worth 10. The dealer must draw until he has a hand of 17 or more and continue the play with all at the table.
Using hand signals you’ll tell the dealer what you want to do with your hand. If you want to hit, simply tap the table with your finger behind your cards. If you’d like to stay, wave your hand over your cards.
Hit: Take another card from the dealer.
Stand: Declining another card from the dealer.
Double Down: Increasing your initial bet and taking one more card from the dealer.
Split: If your two cards have the same value, you may split them by adding a second, but equal to the first, bet. The dealer will split your hand and give you an additional two cards.
Surrender: Some casinos allow the player to surrender and quit that hand. The dealer will take half of the bet and return the other half to the player. This must be the first action a player takes during that round; you cannot take a card and then surrender.
Insurance: Insurance is a bet against the dealer when their upturned card is an Ace. The idea is that the dealer has a good chance of having a 10-value card as their other card and will make blackjack. You bet up to half your original bet, where the dealer pays out 2:1 if they do have blackjack, essentially you break even on that hand.
A few tips for new players: