Blackjack is a popular gambling card game that is enjoyed by seasoned professionals and amateurs alike in land and online casinos across the globe including right here in Africa. A large part of Blackjack’s appeal is how quick and easy it is to play.
All you need to become a Blackjack pro is to be able to count to 21, understand the rules of the various variants of Blackjack you want to play and be willing to learn the ‘basic strategy’ of each variant i.e. the optimum or best way to play every hand.
Get all three of these under your belt and regardless of whether you play online Blackjack in Kimberly, Kinshasa or anywhere in between, rest assured that you should easily be able to hold your own. The important thing is to first understand the rules.
Basic Blackjack Rules
Most players believe the aim of Blackjack is to get 21 points or as close as, but they’re only half right. The real aim is to beat the dealer and there are two ways this can happen – if you have a better hand (with a higher point value up to and including 21) than the dealer or if the dealer busts (has a hand that exceeds 21 points).
As such, the card values in Blackjack are very important. All picture cards (Jacks, Queens and Kings) have a value of 10 while Aces have a duel value of either 1 or 11. All other cards are worth their face value (2s, 3s, 4s, 5s, 6s, 7s, 8s, 9s and 10s).
At the start of every hand you must place the minimum table bet or stake on each hand you play. The dealer then deals two cards to each of your stakes. It’s very important to note that whether you decide to play one or more hands (up to 5) simultaneously, each hand is played independently of all others.
Once all of your hands (and those of the other players, if applicable) have been dealt, the dealer will deal himself two cards – one face up and other face down. It’s now time to take one or more of the following actions for each of your hands:
Player Actions in Blackjack
- Hit - You ask the dealer for another card, and another and so on until you either reach 21, as close to 21 as you dare, or you “bust,” i.e. exceed 21 points.
- Stand - You stick with your original hand, effectively finalising it.
- Double - You double your bet and get dealt one more card to finalise your hand.
- Split - If you’re dealt a pair, you have the option to split them and turn each into their own hand, in which case you must make a bet for the new hand that matches your original stake or bet.
- Insurance - If the dealer is showing an Ace, you have the choice to take insurance (against the dealer making a Blackjack) although most seasoned players describe this bet as a “sucker’s bet” and forgo it.
- Surrender - Some Blackjack variants let you “surrender” or give up your cards before play starts at cost of half your original bet. Some casinos only allow a late surrender once the dealer has checked for a Blackjack while some allow an early surrender.
Once all player actions have been completed, the dealer now reveals his face down card and based on the total point value of his hand and the variant of Blackjack being played, he must adhere to a specified set of rules or guidelines.
For instance, if his hand totals 16 points or less, he has to keep on hitting until he makes 17 or more. Some Blackjack games make it compulsory for the dealer to hit on ‘Soft 17’, which is a hand that includes an Ace with an 11 value.
If the dealer busts, all player hands win (that didn’t already bust during the player actions). If the dealer shows either 17, 18, 19, 20 or 21 and it matches your hand, this results in a “tie” and your original bet is returned to you.
Even if you make a natural Blackjack (a hand consisting of an Ace and a 10 card from your initially dealt cards) and the dealer also makes 21, the hand will result in a tie. You’re paid out on any hand that beats that of the dealer as follows:
Pay-outs in Blackjack
In Blackjack there are only 5 main pay-outs which are:
|Blackjack (21)||Pays 3:2|
|Even Money||Pays pays 1:1 (side bet you can take – for half the value of your original bet - if you have a natural Blackjack and the dealer is showing an Ace. This bet aims to protect you from a tie if the dealer also makes a Blackjack)|
|Tie||Your original bet is returned to you|
Variations of Blackjack
While all Blackjack games are based on beating the dealer and making a Blackjack, different versions of Blackjack have evolved over the years, each with slight different rule. Here are some of the more common Blackjack variants, many of which you’ll find featured on our premier African online casinos:
European Blackjack is considered to be the standard or most common version of the game which is available throughout Europe and in most online and mobile casinos. This variant can be played with four, six or eight decks, and the dealer always stands on Soft 17.
Multi-Hand Blackjack is pretty much identical to European Blackjack except that instead of playing just one hand at a time, you can play up to 5 hands simultaneously. The advantage of playing this type of Blackjack is that you can maximise your winning potential.
Blackjack Switch is one of the most intriguing variants since it gives you an option to switch cards in your hands. The way it works is you’re dealt two hands, and then you’re given the choice to switch the top two cards of each hand, which will hopefully improve both.
Blackjack Surrender, as its name suggests, is a variant with a rule that allows you to give up or surrender your cards before the beginning of play. If you surrender your cards, you will be refunded half or your bet which means you only have to forfeit half your bet.
21 Duel Blackjack
21 Duel Blackjack is a variant where you’re dealt one face up and one face down card while the dealer gets two face down cards with two community cards on the table. If you use one of the community cards your original bet will be doubled and your hidden card is turned over to reveal your final hand. Blackjack in this variants pays 1:1 instead of the usual 3:2.