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BlackJack Game Play

The game appears simple in basic play but has more to it. The goal of each player is to come as close to 21 as possible without going over. The dealer deals all players two cards. Depending on the style of Blackjack you are playing, the cards will be either face up or down.

Once each player has two cards, they will each have a total ranging anywhere from 4 to 21. The cards with numbers are valued at the number on the card while all face cards are valued ten. The aces have different values depending on different situations. They can be either a one or eleven. We will cover this later. Once everyone has cards, the dealer will ask whether or not the players would like another card "hit" or stay with what they have "stay". The dealer will have two cards; one face up and one face down. We will talk later about how to analyze and react to the dealers card.

Aces are worth either 1 or 11 depending on what is better for the player. Now lets say you draw a 8 from the deck. Now you have 15 because if the ace was valued at 11 you would have 25 and you would consequently bust. When you have an ace valued as an 11, the total is called 'soft'. For instance, a 5 and an ace is a soft 16. Any other combination without an ace representing a 11 is called a hard number. For instance, a 7 and a 10 is a hard 17.

The dealer will usually be forced to hit until 17. This is always posted on the table. If the dealer's total or your total exceed 21 the hand is a bust and the player loses. You have Blackjack if you receive an ace and a card worth ten. You even beat the dealer if he gets natural 21 which is 21 but with more than two cards. It is called a push and nobody collects money if you and the dealer tie. Blackjack usually pays 3:2. If you bet ten you either win or lose ten the payoff in Blackjack is always even. That does it for the basics. There are a few more intricacies so read on if you can.

Doubling Down
Players are allowed to Double Down. When a player doubles down, he has determined that he has a favorable position and the dealer does not. The player will place down another bet of equal value to the initial bet. He is now allowed to only hit one time. If you double down and the one card you draw is a low card you are in bad shape.
Different games have different rules regarding when a player is allowed to double down. Some allow it with any cards. Some allow it with only 9, 10 and 11. And some casinos only allow 10 and 11.

when a player is dealt two of the same card, as in two 8's, they are allowed to split the two cards into two different hands and essentially play two games of Blackjack at once.

It is only very rarely that a player even has the insurance option. Only when the dealer's face up card is an ace, it is offered. The premise of insurance is that if the dealer's other card is a ten-value card, and he has blackjack, you don't lose your bet. You can buy insurance for half of whatever your initial bet was. Experts agree that insurance is generally a bad idea. If you are counting the cards, it might be in your better interest.

Some game offer the ability to surrender your hand before making any play decisions for half the cost of your bet. If you have a bad looking hand and the dealer has an ace showing, for instance, you might decide to surrender. You could fold your hand and pay 5 to get your 10 back if your original bet had been 10. There are two different versions of surrender, early and late. If the game offers early surrender, the player must decide whether or not they would like to surrender the cards before the dealer checks to see if he has blackjack. In late surrender, the player may surrender even if the dealer has blackjack.

This website has everything you would ever want to know, literally. The site provides a "Blackjack Strategy Engine", which is a computing program that determines what you should do in every situation. You simply input into the machine the specifications for the game you are playing and it will spit out a web page with three tables detailing every move that can be made in a blackjack game.

For those of you that just can't wait anymore and want strategy right here and now, I will break down the gist of the "Blackjack Strategy Engine's" output. This is going to be short and sweet so pay attention: You always want to hit until 17 if the dealer is showing a 7 or higher.