Black Jack: A Beginner's Guide to a Great Game

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First off you need to know the basic rules of Black Jack. Simply put you need to be the one closest to 21 without going over. The rules of the game are standard however, there are slight variations from casino to casino. A quick example is dealers must stand on 17 and must hit if they get 16 or less. Some casino’s have the rule where they hit on soft 17. When you go to a casino and go to the Black Jack table make sure that you know which rules they are playing by.  A soft 17 is when an combination of an Ace and 6 is dealt

Let us take a quick look inside the numbers. Statistically a Black Jack player will win approximately 48% of the hands that are dealt to them.  You can prove this yourself by playing Black Jack at home and dealing yourself as if you were in a casino.  By doing this you will notice three things.  First you will win about half the time.  If you start the shoe again you may notice that rare occasion where you win the majority.  You start the shoe again you will notice the dealer will win the majority.  Basically in the long run you will notice it that it evens out.  It is also true that the house hold about a 1% advantage over the player.  Later we will talk about how to get ahead.

In a deck there is 52 cards.  When you go to casino’s they may offer single deck, double deck or the standard 6 or 8 deck variations.  Either way the percents stay the same.  Let’s give a quick break down of the numbers.  In one deck there is 16 cards total with a value of ten. That means there is a 30.7% chance of a ten coming out.  The percentage slightly changes as time goes on but, it doesn’t shift too much from that 30%. This is why you always assume that the dealer’s down card is a ten.  With all that being said that mean that there is a 7% chance of another number coming out.  An example is there is a 7% chance of a 2 coming out.  There is a 7% chance of a 5 coming out.  So on and so forth. Let’s go to some basics.  

How do you know when to hit, stand or double? Firstly you must assume the dealer’s card that is facing down is a ten as we said above. No matter what the dealer has if you have a 17 or above it is good to stay. If you have 16 or less and the dealer shows a 7, 8, 9, or 10 it is good to take a hit. That is simple basic strategy.

What is splitting and when should I do it? Splitting is when you get two of the same valued cards and put up the same amount therefore creating two separate hands. This can be very profitable when done at the right times. A good rule of thumb is to ALWAYS split Aces and 8’s. You never want to split 10’s. Some people may get eager and want to split them but, Black Jack needs to be a game of pace and patients. The reason for not splitting 10’s you already have a total of 20. When you have 20 the chances of winning or at least pushing (tie) are actually fairly good. You must ask yourself why break up a winning hand?

What is a bust card? If a dealer shows a 4, 5 or 6 we consider this a bust card. If you have 11 or less go ahead and take the hit and if you show 12 or more stay with what you have. The overall odds are the dealer will bust. One key fact to remember is that 10 is the prominent number in Black Jack. You need to assume the dealer’s down card is a 10. The chances are fairly good that the dealer will turn over a 10 and when they have to hit the chances are they will bust. Make sense?  You can go online and print out a basic strategy table. It will prove to be very helpful.  If you don’t stay with the basic strategy then it is fine.  The most important thing is to be consistent.  Keep the same strategy you have in mind and stay with it.

Betting is the key to this game.  You can find tables that have minimum bets of $5 and the minimum/maximum bet will vary from casino to casino.  The biggest key is to vary your bets.  Do not bet the minimum bet 100% of the time.  If you can see the flow is going your way for the show you playing then go ahead an up your bet a little.  An example would be to bet $5 the first four or five hands.  If you notice the flow going your way then up your bet to $15 or even $20 for the next few hands.  Then go back to $5 or $10.  Why is it good to do this?  The reason is because of the statistic that we showed above.  It is statistically true and proven that a player will win approximately 48% of the time.
Black Jack is a great game. If you go with these basic and simple rules and you are consistent with them then you make your chances better when you go to the table. If you go to a table and you notice someone playing “rogue” and not playing with any sort of strategy then get off the table and either wait until they leave or go to another table. You must always remember table courtesy. If you go to a table and the shoe has already started is it good to ask if you can join. The last thing you want to do is to change the flow of the game.
Most of all have fun when you go to play Black Jack.  

It is truly a wonderful game.


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