The cards are shuffled. In order to play, players must make an initial bet by placing sufficient chips in the betting box. The player is dealt two cards face up. The dealer also receives two cards – one face up and one face down. The dealer’s card that is not revealed to the players is called the hole card.
Players judge their chances of beating the dealer with the cards they hold and the card shown in the dealer’s hand. The cards you have compared to the card in the dealer’s hand will determine what you do next. You have several options. You can stand (take no further cards); take more cards to try to improve your score (hit); split your cards into two hands by making an additional bet; or you can double your additional bet. With some online casinos there will be a time limit for you to make your decision. If you do not act within the time limit, it will be assumed that you want to stand.
You can take as many cards as you like to improve your score, but if your score exceeds 21, you lose and your cards will be cleared away. Your bet loses and will be removed. You still lose even if the dealer’s hand exceeds 21. A tie or standoff occurs only if both scores are equal and do not exceed 21. Once you are satisfied that you have sufficient cards to beat the dealer’s eventual score, you should ‘stand’ (take no more cards).
After the player’s hand has been dealt with, the dealer’s hand is played. There are rules that determine the dealer’s action. If his score is 16 or less, he must take a card. If his score goes above 21, he has lost and all winning bets are paid. Once he reaches 17 or over he must stand (he can’t take any more cards). If the player has beaten the dealer’s score, he is paid. If you tie with the dealer, your bet is a standoff (not lost). If your score is lower, you lose.
Depending on the initial value of the cards dealt, you have several options available to you.
You may double your initial bet. Rules vary as to when you can double so always check first. Whether or not doubling your bet is a wise move depends on the dealer’s score.
After two cards have been dealt, you have. the options of splitting them into two separate hands. An additional bet equal to your initial bet can be made. If two aces are split into two hands, only one extra card can be taken. If you split two aces and then get a 10-value card – this is not blackjack as you can only have blackjack after two cards have been dealt. Instead, you have a score of 21.
Insurance is an additional bet you can make if the dealer’s first card is an ace. Here, you make a further bet equal to half your original stake. If the dealer gets blackjack, your original bet loses but your insurance bet is paid at odds of 2/1. If the dealer does not have blackjack, you lose the insurance bet, but your original bet is paid at even odds.
If you have blackjack and the dealer has an ace, you will be asked if you want to take insurance. When you take insurance, the outcome is the same whether the dealer has blackjack or not. Your net winnings are even money. Some casinos automatlcally pay you even money as soon as you take insurance. It is generally more advantageous for the player to not take insurance as there is a greater chance that the dealer will make another score and not get blackjack.
If both the dealer and the player have the same score, the bet is a standoff (not lost).
If a player wins with a score of 21 with his first two cards only (blackjack) the odds are 3/2.
If the player beats the dealer on any other score, the odds are 1/1.
Insurance pays 2/1.
Where to place bets
The table is marked with boxes where bets can be placed. These may be rectangular or round (see Figure 7.1). You can bet on as many boxes as you like, up to the table maximum. You can either play yourself or bet on other players’ hands. Chips must be placed in the correct position:
• for single bets, chips should be placed in the box
• for split bets, chips should be placed on the line of the box
• for doubled bets, chips should be placed behind the original stake
• for double split bets, chips should be placed behind original stakes on the line.