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Blackjack glossary: The complete guide to blackjack terminology

Learn How to play online blackjack
How to play online blackjack

How to play online blackjack

The game of blackjack has had players captivated all over the world. Also known as twenty-one, the aim of this game is to create a hand whose total is higher than the dealer’s hand, but without exceeding the total value of 21.  Make that mistake and you’ll lose.

Since there are various versions of this game, there are separate rules for each one. Although the basic rules are common for all variations, once you’ve grasped the basic rules, you’ll master the different adaptations with ease.

When it comes to the game of blackjack, cards between 2 and 11 are considered at face value, while all face cards are valued at 10. An Ace is either 1 or 11, depending on the other cards present and the one that benefits you the most.

An Ace which counts as 11 is called a ‘soft hand’, meaning that an Ace and a 6, is called a ‘soft 17’. On the other hand, an Ace that counts as 1 and is called a ‘hard hand’.

How do you play blackjack?

For a game of blackjack to commence, you must first place a bet to receive two cards. The dealer also receives his two cards, but you can only see one card facing up. In some blackjack variants, the dealer does not receive his second card until much later.

The card that is facing down is known as the ‘hole’ card. Once you have received your cards, it is time to decide. If your cards total to 21, well done, as you’ve automatically won. Similarly, if the dealer has 21, he has also won. If you both get a blackjack at the same time, it is called a ‘tie’ and you receive your bet back.

How do I play my hand in blackjack?

Blackjack is a game of decisions so there are some options you can choose to make your move once your cards have been dealt out.

Before making that choice though, you must first evaluate the cards you have in hand as well as the dealer’s face-up card. Once you have done this you need to pick one out of the following decisions:

  • Hit: You can request another card with the aim of getting a better total value
  • Stand: You’re happy with the cards you have and don’t require any additional cards
  • Double Down: You can double your bet, ask for a card and stand all in one go
  • Split: If you have two cards of the same value, you can split the cards into two separate hands
  • Surrender: You can forfeit half your bet if you think you’re going to lose
  • Insurance: You can take out insurance in case the dealer’s card is an Ace, which is half the cost of the initial bet.

The dealer’s hand:

There are also a few rules in place when it comes to the dealer and his actions based on the cards presented. It would be best to know these rules, to see how they can benefit you.

  • Dealer automatically wins if you bust or surrender
  • Dealer wins if he has the total value closest to 21
  • If the dealer has 16 or less, he hits
  • If the dealer has 18 or more, he stands
  • If the dealer has a hard 17, he stands
  • If the dealer has a soft 17, he hits

Once you have both played your hand, the winner is automatically declared based on the following factors:

  • If you have a blackjack, you win
  • If you go over 21, you lose
  • If the dealer has a blackjack, he wins
  • If the dealer busts and you don’t go over 21, you win
  • If neither you nor the dealer busts, the closest value to 21, wins
  • If you both have the same amount, it’s a tie and your bet is returned

How do I know when to stand and when to hit in blackjack?

Since it is a game that is heavily based on making decisions, knowing when to stand and when to hit, could be a fine line between winning and losing. Out of all the decisions you must make, knowing when to hit or stand can be pivotal in how quickly you can master the game of blackjack.

To be successful at this game, knowing when to hit or stand is equally as important as managing your bankroll. Make a bad choice, and it will end up costing you.

For you to learn the very basics of blackjack, it is imperative that you learn exactly what each option entails.

Hitting means requesting an extra card from the dealer. Once this has been dealt out, you can either bust and lose immediately, or else have the option to either hit again or stand.

Standing means you are satisfied with the cards in hand and do not require any additional cards. Once you stand, you don’t have to act any further.

When should I hit in blackjack?

There is one sole reason for you to hit in blackjack and that’s to improve your current hand. If you are already close to 21 and ask for an extra card, you’re risking losing.

Of course, your main aim is to create a hand that is as close as possible to 21 by beating the dealer. You must first understand some basic principles when it comes to hitting in blackjack.

To start with, you need an average of 18 or slightly over to win. Mathematics is on your side here. If you can get 19, don’t ask for a hit because the odds are against you on that one.

Some blackjack guides usually recommend standing on 17 or more since the odds are again in your favour.

Another trick that we learned from playing blackjack is to assume that the dealer has a 10 as a hole card, since it would be easier to create a strategy based on this. To be more specific, the hole card is the other card that is hidden from your view by the dealer.

Remember that since there are a few 10-valued cards, the odds are that the hole card would be a 10. You must base your decision on this fact to make an informed decision.

When should I stand in blackjack?

There are two main reasons when you should stand in blackjack, namely if you are happy with the cards in hand and if you think there is a good chance of the dealer busting. If you are standing with a card value of under 12, you are highly likely to lose.

You must remember that since blackjack is a mathematical game, there are odds and probabilities attached to every card combination. These odds and factors cannot be twisted for your benefit.

How do I know I’m making the right choice in blackjack?

Before deciding, make sure you evaluate exactly what you have in your hands. Pay close attention to the dealer’s card facing up as it will give an idea of how good his hand is.

There are probabilities attached to what the dealer’s hole card is. Based on this information, you should be able to make an informed decision on whether to hit or to stand.

Remember, that since this is a game of luck, you are bound to make good or bad decisions, but with this strategy, you should be able to minimize the chances of losing.

Is there an exception to the rule when it comes to blackjack strategy?

Understanding the rules of the game is only one step towards conquering the game of blackjack. There are times when you need to bend the rules when it comes to hitting or standing. Examples include:

  • When a dealer has a 10, hit if you have a total hand value of 16
  • Hit if you have a soft 17, as you are likely to improve without busting
  • Hit a hard 12 to improve your hand

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