What is Black Jack?
Black Jack is a card game played in casinos where players compete to beat the dealer by having a hand totaling closer to 21 than theirs. If you have a blackjack (a starting hand of a ten valued card and an ace) then you instantly win. If both player and dealer have a Blackjack then the hand is a push or tie and bets are returned to the players. Blackjack is a great game to learn and has one of the lowest house edges of any casino table game. This is due to the fact that if players follow basic strategy then they lose less than 1% of their bets over the long run. However, this is a very long term and it does not take into account things such as dealer cheating, player deviating from basic strategy, and the game variation rules that can increase the house edge, such as 6 to 5 payout for blackjacks and the ability to re-double after splitting.
The player is dealt two cards and the dealer is given one card face up and the other card face down. The player then works out the value of their hand and that of the dealer to determine whether or not they have a good chance of beating the dealer with a higher unbusted hand. If they have a good chance of winning then they can double their bet and ask the dealer for another card. This is a risky move as the next card could cause them to bust, but it can be an effective way to maximise their winnings.
Once all the players have made their decisions the cards are flipped over and the dealer starts to make their hand. If the dealer has a lower hand than the player’s then the player is paid out his or her bet money and the round is over. However, if the dealer has a higher hand than the player’s then it is a push and neither the dealer nor the player wins the hand.
The game is sometimes played in home games and a fancy Blackjack table is not required – just a table, some cards and cash or chips to bet with. In these games the turn to deal can be taken in turns or can be changed after every hand, whichever the players agree. It is also a good idea to re-shuffle the cards after each hand to keep the game fair. This can be done by using a cut card, a solid red card placed in the deck to mark where the cards should be separated during the cutting process, or simply by having all the players take turns dealing. Some people also use a technique called back counting, named after Stanford Wong, which involves watching the cards as they are played and only playing when the count is positive for the player. This can reduce the number of bets placed and reduce a players losses, but casinos are now well aware of this method so it is not as useful as it once was.