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Blackjack or 21

Specific Rules of Blackjack

Once you have mastered the basic rules of blackjack, it is good to know the finer points of the game. A player who receives an Ace and a 10-point card as the initial two cards on a deal is said to have a "natural 21" or a "blackjack". In this case, if the dealer does not achieve a "natural 21" as well, the player receives 3 for 2 on his bet (meaning a bet of $10.00 would win $15.00). Note that a score of 21 made with three or more cards is NOT considered a "blackjack". The odds of getting this hand are roughly 1 in 21. Should the dealer get a "blackjack" as well, the hand is a "push" (tie), which means the bet is left on the table and goes to the next hand.

A little used choice by a player is called "surrender". Before the player takes a card or stands pat, he or she may fold the hand. That is give up at the loss of half of the bet. In most casinos which do offer it, however, this can only be done after the dealer checks his hand for a "natural 21". If there is a "natural 21" the player cannot surrender. A player should only surrender on a very bad hand visa vi the dealer. Remember that the dealer cannot have 21 if the player has the option to surrender. The odds need to be about 75% against winning to make it worth the while of the player. The odds are seldom this bad. If the player decides to do anything, stand pat, double, split or take a card, he or she immediately loses the option to surrender.

Also before a player makes any other choice, he or she may "double-down". In essence the player doubles his or her bet (you can actually "double-down" for less than double - but not more). The player indicates this by shifting a stack of chips next to (not on top of) the original bet. The player then receives one (and only one card). In some games this is delivered face down and turned up at the end of the hand. This is a good choice for the player when he or she has a total equal to 11 and the chances of getting a 10 card to equal 21 or 4 in 13, and with other possibilities that are very fair. Of course, it is wise to keep in mind what card the dealer has turned up.

When a player is dealt a pair, he or she may choose to split the hand. Both cards are separated and turned up. A matching bet to the original bet is laid next to one of the cards. Another card is immediately laid on top of the first separated hand. It is played out before play can be made on the second split hand. Some casinos will allow a player to double-down on a split, but this is not always the case. Casinos also differ on whether a split hand may be split again should the same card come up again. When Aces are split, some casinos require that only one card be taken with each half of the split.

When the dealer's turned up card is an Ace, the players will be offered insurance. If a player accepts, he or she places the equivalent of half of the original bet on the table on the insurance line. If the dealer has a "blackjack" then this bet pays 2 for 1. If not, the player loses the amount put forward. This is almost always a bad bet for the player because the actual chances that the dealer will have a "natural 21", all other things being equal, is only roughly 4 in 13 or just over 30 percent. Nevertheless, if the player has his own "blackjack" it will guarantee that he will walk away with at least winning the hand (though not paying 3 for 2 - because of the loss of the insurance money). What it really does is avoid a "push" in that situation.

Next Page: Variations in Blackjack


Remember blackjack is a gambling game. Players should never gamble more than they can afford to lose.

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