Blackjack – an Introduction

Blackjack’s popularity is in large part down to its simplicity. Understanding the essentials doesn’t take long, and serious players can go on from there to work on strategies and theories to improve their chance of success. Blackjack offers the casino a very low house edge, making it a more statistically advantageous game for players, who can flourish even more when different principles are applied.

The Basics

The object of blackjack is to come as close to 21 as possible with your cards, without going over and ensuring that you end up with a higher total than the dealer. The dealer deals each player two cards facing up, before dealing himself two cards (one, the ‘hole’ card, remains face down). Players are allowed to draw additional cards (“hit”) to the total hand value of 21. They can “stand” at any point, which means they are happy with the total of their cards, but once a player draws a card that takes his total hand value above 21 he is “bust” and out of the game.

A golden rule of blackjack is ‘stand at 17’. This is born from the fact that, statistically speaking, the odds of you picking a desirable card, balanced against the odds of you being beaten by another hand, are in your favor.

How’s Your Math?

Blackjack relies on skill more than other casino games, which can be based more on luck. Taking blackjack to the next level requires adopting a mathematical mindset, one that encourages the quick calculation of probabilities in a variety of scenarios and knowing when best to hit, stand or split (splitting two of the same card into two new hands and receiving two more cards).

Various strategies exist for playing blackjack, and the theory can go into some very deep math. But, the rewards are worth it if you have the mindset and the time to perfect them. You don’t have to be Einstein, but you need to have a mathematical or scientific mindset and a good memory.

A Test of Character

As well as having the scientific or mathematical skills to learn the theory of blackjack and the strategies around it, a successful blackjack player requires a set of personal characteristics that will allow these newly acquired skills to flourish. A good player prefers skill-based games rather than games of chance, can maintain their focus for long periods, and, like any successful gambler, accepts defeat and moves on without bemoaning their bad luck.

A roulette player can legitimately blame bad luck for a string of losses or credit good fortune for the reverse, but a blackjack player can almost always find ways to improve his odds of success. This is one of the beauties of this three-hundred-year-old game.

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