Black Jack looks like a simple game, plays like a simple game and you can learn it like a simple game. You don’t need to know anything about mathematics or be a professional card-player to win at Black Jack, once you learn the basics you will be able to progress to your own style. That’s what we’re here to help you with, to get you started playing Black Jack and introduce you to the basics of the game.
The goal of Black Jack is simple, although many people think the goal is to get a hand with a value of 21, it really isn’t. The goal is to defeat the dealer by getting a better hand (and without going over 21) than the dealer. The payout is always the same as your bet(1:1 payout), unless you get a blackjack in which case you win 150% your bet (3:2 payout).
There are many terms that are used in Black Jack, soft hand, hard hand, blackjack and bust. Some are fairly self-explanatory like bust, which means the owner of the hand has just lost by going over 21.
Hard hand/Soft Hand:
Also referred to as hard 17 or soft 17 and is decided by whether or not an ace is involved in the hand and what value that ace has. The ace can either have a value of 1 or 11, when the ace has a value of 11 the hand is a “soft hand”, but when the ace has a value of 1 the hand becomes a “hard hand”. A hard hand is always at risk of a bust, but a soft hand can exceed 21 without busting because the ace will switch value from 11 to 1.
A blackjack is when your first two cards show an ace and a card valued 10, meaning your very first two cards give you 21. Blackjack pays more than a regular win (3:2 instead of 1:1), but a hand of 21 is only a blackjack if it’s the very first two cards, otherwise it’s counted as a regular win.
The values of all cards except the ace and the face cards are the same as they show, but unlike poker, the jack, queen and king are all valued at 10.
Always check what the rules of the dealer is so you know what hand the dealer will stand on, and in turn you can better and much more easily play your hand. Sometimes the dealer will stand on any 17 which includes a soft hand, but at other times they will draw until a hard 17.
Playing Black Jack
Playing Black Jack is very simple, there are multiple choices depending on what cards you have and if you want to bet more or not. Many black jack games offer you to surrender if you only have two cards and think you’re going to lose, this will give you 50% of your bet back, but it’s not something we recommend since in the long run surrendering will result in a loss.
The dealer will start the round with two cards, one visible and the other faced down so nobody knows what card it is. If the dealer has a visible ace, you can buy an insurance for the cost of half your wager. Insurance protects you if the dealer gets a blackjack from the card faced down, so you win 2x your bet instead of losing the hand. However even in this case insurance will in the long run result in a loss so we also recommend against it.
So what choices do you have and how should you play your hand? The decision starts with you and there are many choices depending on your preference and what cards you have. The round will only continue to the next player or dealer once you’re done with your hand, whether you decide to stand or if you bust.
If you think your hand is insufficient and you want another card, you hit/draw. You can hit/draw for as long as you want without any additional wager as long as you don’t exceed a hand of 21.
Stand basically means you’re prepared to take that hand to a showdown with the dealer, if you’re playing alone with a dealer (for example online) you will immediately be taken to a showdown after the dealer has finished drawing. If other players are involved, you have to wait until they too are finished before your showdown with the dealer.
If you have two identical cards (for example two 10s), you can split them into two new hands, though remember that sometimes this is restricted to cards of certain values or face cards. A split means you turn one hand into two hands by placing a new wager on one of the cards, both hands are then played separately as individual hands.
If you think you’re near an unbeatable hand and that your very next card will take you to victory over the dealer, you can Double Down. With a double down you double your bet, draw one more card and then stand regardless of what card you get.