Blackjack is probably the most widely played game in the world. The basics are simple and rules are few. If you can count to 21, you’ve mastered the hard part. But finesse is a big part of this game, because whatever you do, it effects the rest of the table, so it is wise to learn the ins and out, and the etiquette of the game, before sitting down.
Where: In the table games area of the casino.
Goal: To beat the hand that the croupier has. Ideally, you want a hand that equals 21 because this is the best hand. The closer you get to 21, the better your chance at beating the croupier. If you go over 21, you lose. They call that a bust.
How to count: Aces can be worth either 1 or 11, at the player’s discretion. Kings, queens and jacks all have a value of 10. All other cards are counted at their face value.
Play: As with all card games, you must place your bet to begin. Minimums vary and are shown on the card at the side of the croupier’s chips. The croupier then doles out two cards to each bettor, including himself. After this the croupier will go around the table offering additional cards, one at a time, to increase the value of each hand. You can stay with what you have or request a card. This is called a hit. Once everyone at the table has bet, the croupier shows his cards. The croupier must draw cards if his equal less than 16 until he reaches 17 or more. He must stand if he has a hand that equals 17 through 21.
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Win: Each player is betting against the house only, so multiple players can win. If your hand meets or beats the croupier’s, you win. If your hand is less than the croupier or you bust by going over 21, you lose.
Those are the basics. Getting down the finesse of the game is the hard part because taking too many cards or taking cards at the wrong time with the wrong hand can hurt other players. There are also additional choices that can be made once you learn the game, such as splitting pairs, doubling down and insurance betting.
Book: One of the most recommended books, is Best Blackjack by Frank Scoblete. It is appropriate for the beginners to poker and will provide you with the basic information you need to get started.
More information on blackjack: There are a lot of websites out there purporting to teach you this game but many of these sites have an ulterior motive, so read carefully. They may want you to buy their book, buy their system, or gamble on their online gaming site. For the best basic instructions on how to play poker, take advantage of the free gaming lessons offered at many of the Las Vegas hotels. These free lessons vary by casino, so check online or when you arrive for the most up-to-date information.
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Photo credit: Jesus V