Black Jack is a game of ‘feel’ as much as strategy. You need both to beat the house. Getting a good feel for the game takes time and practice, but deepening your understanding of the rules and the Blackjack card values goes a long way to speeding up the process.
This article will explore the tips and tricks you need to be a BlackJack winner, whether you’ve been playing for years or hours.
BlackJack Rule refresher
Although BlackJack is considered a complex game, its premise is simple:
Get as close to 21 as you can with the cards you are dealt, but don’t go over 21.
Seems easy enough except that you have very little control over what cards come your way and getting it wrong means losing money. And no one wants to lose money.
So let’s go over the rules to reduce the risk of losing your bet due to ignorance:
The dealer is called ‘the house’ and it is the house that players aim to beat.
Players place a bet before they are dealt any cards.
Players will then be dealt one card facing up and one facing down.
The dealer will also receive two cards but the house does not place a bet.
Each player will then take their turn to try to reach 21 points. They can either ‘hit’ to receive another card or ‘stand’ to keep their current score and wait to see if the house will beat it.
If a player's cards add up to more than 21 they are ‘bust’, which means they are out of the round and lose their bet.
Once all players have taken their turn, the dealer will reveal their hidden card and attempt to reach 21 points.
Depending on the rules of the table, the dealer will stand on a minimum of 18 points as a default.
If the dealer does not go bust, the players with a value that is the same as or less than the dealer will lose their round and must hand their bet to the dealer.
The suits do not matter; only the value of the cards.
If the dealer goes bust, all players still in the round will be paid out according to their bets.
If a player gets an ace and a 10 card (10 or a picture card) they achieve a ‘BlackJack’ because their cards total 21. This is a winning Blackjack hand that gets a greater payout from the house. If the dealer gets ‘BlackJack’ the dealer wins all bets.
Blackjack card values
Now that you have the rules straight in your head, let’s review the Blackjack card values so that you can start to calculate your chances of getting to 21:
Ace = 1 or 11 - you decide based on your Blackjack strategy.
2 = 2
3 = 3
4 = 4
5 = 5
6 = 6
7 = 7
8 = 8
9 = 9
10 = 10
Jack = 10
Queen = 10
King = 10
Looking at these Blackjack card values here are two more interesting quirks to the game:
When a player receives two of the same value cards (e.g. two jacks) they have the option to split these cards into two hands. If cards are split, the dealer will treat each card as a new Blackjack hand and deal a new card to each. The player will then play both hands independently during their turn. This effectively gives the player two chances at winning.
If a player is confident about their Blackjack hand they can choose to double their initial bet during their turn. Doubling up is a risky move that can prove very advantageous or a shortcut to losing your money.
Basic Blackjack strategies
Did you know that the house has a slight statistical advantage over players? In fact, the house has an even bigger advantage over players who have no strategy! So let’s explore some basic strategies to improve your chances.
Manage your bankroll
Blackjack is a betting game that is most often played for real money. The game can be played for free, but players will still need to make bets even if it’s not for money. Therefore, it’s essential to manage your bankroll (the pot of betting ‘chips’ that you use to make bets) carefully. A great rule of thumb is to have at least three times your bet in your bankroll before the round starts. This ensures that you have chips to play with if you want to split or double your bet.
Hit or stick?
Players can use statistics to help them decide when to keep playing and when to stop. Here are two examples:
When the total of your first two cards is between 12 and 16 you should hit to get closer to 21 or bust because there is a higher chance of the house beating your total.
If you have an ace and a second card between 7 and 10 you should stick because you would be indicating that the ace’s value is 11 and, therefore, that you are close to the 21-point goal.
Double down or surrender?
Most games allow you to double your bet at any point during your turn, but not all games allow you to surrender. Surrendering means folding your hand before drawing new cards. When you surrender you forfeit half of your original bet. Here’s how to think about making these choices:
Consider doubling your bet when your first two cards total between 8 and 11. This is because you have a high probability of getting a card valued at 10 points next, in which case you would be close to 21.
The worst total for your first two cards is 15 or 16. If this is the case, it can be a good idea to surrender if the table allows it.
Armed with the Blackjack card values and strategies, you are ready to start taking on the house! If you’re keen to try your hand at Blackjack online, the best place to start is with 21 Gold, by AviaGames. It’s a legit online, money-making Blackjack game that lets you play whenever you want against real players from across the US!