As with anything, you can learn the basics of blackjack in minutes…and then spend the rest of your life trying to become a master. The rules of blackjack are simple. Understanding the real details, and seemingly hidden relationships, are what separates a chump on lucky streak from a dependable winner every time.
Remember: there is almost always ONLY one best move that you can make. Experts know each one.
However, don’t needlessly complicate your experience by trying to learn everything at once; a few skills will certainly give you more than enough to enjoy (and more importantly, succeed!) on a regular basis. Get a solid handle on the basics, one step at a time, and then move on to the next step.
The Game Begins
The first thing you must do is put down the minimum qualifying bet to get you into the hand. Clockwise, ending at himself, the dealer hands out one card, face down, to every player at the blackjack table. Then he deals a second face-down card to each player, and lastly a face-up card to himself. Then, players may raise their bets. Oh yes…just in case you didn’t already know this, the goal is to get closer to 21 than anyone else.
Basic strategy teaches you which is the best play, according to the odds. Ever since blackjack first became popular, precise mathematical simulations have provided every possible hand, every card combination. These are commonly known as card charts, basic strategy charts for blackjack (which are, incidentally, widely available online!). Any hand that you can be dealt, any card that the dealer is showing, will be shown in these charts.
If you want a good solid chance of winning as often as possible, memorizing these charts will certainly increase your odds. However, you won’t learn everything there is to know about blackjack from a basic strategy chart, and you definitely won’t be able to refer directly to them during play unless you’re gambling online. The chart only shows you whether to stand (stick with the cards you have) or hit (have the dealer give you another card) depending on those first two cards.
Simple rule: if you’ve got 8 or less, hit, and if you’ve got 17 – 21, stand.
If you’ve got 9, look at what the dealer is showing. Is it 6 or lower? Double your bet (double down). Higher? Just hit.
If you’ve got 10, and the dealer has 9 or less, double. If the dealer has a high card, hit. Getting the idea?
If you’ve got 11, and the dealer has 10 or less, double. If the dealer shows an Ace, just hit when you have an Ace.
If you’ve got 12, and the dealer has 6 or less, stand. Otherwise, hit.
If you’ve got 13 – 16, and the dealer has 6 or less, stand. Any higher, hit.