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Getting to 21: Tips and tools for playing Live Blackjack

Getting to 21: Tips and tools for playing Live Blackjack

Whether you are a seasoned pro or looking at a deck of cards for the first time, playing live dealer blackjack can be a fun and exciting way to enjoy live casino table games from the comfort of your own device. 

The goal of the game is to get to 21 points without going over. Sounds simple, right? There are some nuanced rules along the way which will help you better understand the game to build your confidence and own strategy when playing Blackjack!

First and foremost, the points

Every card in blackjack is designated a point value, regardless of its suit. For numbered cards, 2-10, the value of the card is simply dictated by its face value (5 of clubs, or any other suit, is simply 5 points).

Face cards, meaning jacks through kings, are each assigned a value of 10 points.

Aces can be two different values, one or eleven, depending on which value will give a better hand. The ace, as an eleven, is the card that can potentially deliver a ‘natural’ 21, delivering a ‘blackjack’ straight on the deal when paired with a card with a value of ten.

Starting a hand, the absolute basics

With live casino games, you will be given a window to place your bets. Once the betting period closes, the dealer will deal the cards. Players receive their cards face up, whilst the dealer gets their first card face up and the second card face down. If the Game Presenter is showing an Ace, players will be offered ‘insurance’, a side bet paying out 2:1 if the game presenter does, in fact, have blackjack.

If your first two cards’ value equals 21 and consists of an ace and any 10 point value card, you have a ‘natural’ blackjack, a feat that can only be achieved on the initial deal!  The only thing that can beat your hand is if the dealer also has a natural blackjack (which would be a ‘push’ or a tie).

If your hand does not equal 21 points, there are a few options available. Your first big decision will be to stand or to hit. It is important at this point to remember that you lose or ‘bust’ if your cards’ value is over 21 points, so choosing whether to stand or hit is a vital decision.

To ‘stand’, means that you are happy with your points total and you think it could beat the dealer’s. Remember, you can see one of the dealer’s cards, so you are gambling that your total will beat the dealer’s value of the face up card plus the face down card.

If you are not totally happy with your total, you can ‘hit’, meaning you’d like more cards to try to improve your hand’s value without going over 21. If you hit and the value of the drawn card causes your hand to exceed 21, you ‘bust’ and lose the hand.

Once you are done with your actions (‘hit’ or ‘stand’), the dealer reveals their cards. If the value of their cards is lower than the value of your cards, they can hit in order to increase their value. If the dealer does not beat your hand or busts (gets a point total of 22 or higher), then you win the hand!

Of course, it is possible for you and the dealer to both end up with the same total. In the case of a tie or a ‘push’, you receive your wager back at 1:1.

Basics in practice

The best way to demonstrate the basics is with an example. Let’s say you are playing alone with the dealer. The dealer deals you a card face up, then a card to themselves face up. The dealer then deals you a second card face up and themselves a second card face down.

You are showing an eight of clubs and a ten of diamonds for a total of 18 points. The dealer’s face up card is a king of hearts (10 points). Because the dealer is showing a ten-point card, they have a ‘peek’ at their second card, without showing the players. If the dealer finds an ace, the gameplay stops because they dealt a natural blackjack and automatically win. The dealer did not find an ace, so the action is now on to the player.

It is now your choice to hit or stand. Hitting gets you another card, but the only cards that could help are an ace (for one point), a two or a three – any other cards would bring your total over 21 and would cause you to go bust.

The dealer’s face up card is that king worth ten points, so any card valued over 8 points would beat your hand. However, if the dealer has a 15, they would have to hit in order to try to beat your 18-point hand, possibly busting in the process. The dealer must hit until he or she has 17, at which point they must stand.

Let’s pretend you decide to stand on your 18 points. The dealer scans their hidden card to reveal a 5 of hearts, bringing their total to 15. They hit and get a jack of clubs causing the dealer to bust with a total of 25 and you win the hand!

This is, of course, just an example and gambling is always a gamble! Never gamble more money than you can afford to lose. Blackjack can be enjoyed as a fun and entertaining game, but should never be viewed as a way to ‘make money’.

More to come!

There is so much more to learn about the game, but these basics form the foundation for all gameplay. Keep an eye out for our next post, “Basics Plus: The art of splitting cards, doubling down and more” to learn even more about the ever-popular game of blackjack!

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