Blackjack is one of the world's most popular card games, although you may also know it under alternative names such as pontoon, twenty-one or vingt-et-un. It has a long history, and although its exact origins are unknown, the great Spanish writer Cervantes mentioned it as early as 1601. The cards and rules have stayed mostly the same in the centuries since, but one thing has changed dramatically in the last decade: how we play it.
While you can still find blackjack being played in casinos across the globe, you can also now play it in the comfort of your own home by logging on to an online casino or gaming site. It's a more convenient way to play, and if you want to increase your chances of winning at blackjack you could do worse than look at this handy guide to blackjack rules and strategy.
The Rules of Blackjack
Blackjack is simple to understand, but lots of fun to play. The initial aim is to hold cards that total as close as possible to 21 without going bust (that is, having cards that add up to more than 21 which is an instant loss). More specifically, to win at blackjack you have to be closer to 21 than the dealer, without going over. Initially you'll be given two cards, and you'll see one card of the dealers; using this information and your judgement, you must then decide to stand (that is keep at the total you've got) or hit (take another card in the hope it will bring you closer to 21). Other options available include splitting your cards if you have two of the same value, giving you two hands of cards to pit against the dealer. The dealer is not allowed to use strategy, they simply draw automatically until their cards total 17 or more.
Popular Blackjack Systems
These simple rules allow for complex strategies to be formed, and many players utilise a blackjack system in an attempt to turn the odds in their favour. Some of these systems involve changing the amount of your stake depending upon the results of your bets, such as the Martingale system. In this system you simply double your stake when losing until you win, the theory behind this being that the eventual victory will exceed initial losses. Alternatively, the Paroli system says you should increase your bet when winning and decrease it when losing, going on the theory of hot and cold streaks.
Some people swear by the effectiveness of these systems, but it's important to gamble responsibly and never to bet more than you can afford to win. Keep this in mind, and blackjack can be lots of fun.
When Should You Hit or Hold?
The secret to blackjack success is knowing when to hit and hold, and you can only do this in relation to the dealer's face up card, so this should always be your first consideration. Be wary if they have a 9, 10 (or picture cards which are also worth 10) or an ace, as they are then much more likely to have a hand over 17 once their next card is revealed. In this case it may be beneficial to seek a total in the high teens, 20 or 21. Alternatively if the dealer's first card is a 7 or lower they are likely to need to draw at least three cards which greatly increases their chance of going bust, so a mid teen score in your hand could prove a winner.
Which Blackjack Strategy Is Right for You?
Blackjack is, on the face of it, a game of luck, but strategy plays a much bigger role than in a game such as roulette. Play practice games online to find the strategy that's right for you and you'll soon get a feel for when to stand and when to hit. Congratulations, you could be on the way to becoming a blackjack winner!
Players have so much choice when it comes to different blackjack games. The most popular is the LIVE Dealer Blackjack, where you have a real dealer dealing real cards in front of your eyes! It makes you feel like you are in a physical casino from the comfort of your home.