If, like me a few years back, you have never played a table game
in a casino
, you may find the idea of doing so a bit intimidating. What is the best game to start with? What are the rules? And, most embarrassingly, will I look stupid if I make a mistake as a new player? Today, we'll start setting your fears to rest.
In terms of the odds, the best table game bet
in any casino is usually blackjack
(with a few exceptions that I'll talk about in a future post.) An average game of blackjack favours the house by just one half of one percent
on each hand, and a really good game has an even smaller house edge
is a great way to familiarise yourself with the game before you head off on that big Vegas adventure, so by the time you arrive you'll be a seasoned pro.
As to the rules
, well, that's what I'm here for! After we've covered game play, we'll look at what is called basic strategy
- a way to play each hand that ensures the best chance of winning for the player. Basic strategy has been developed using mathematics and simulating millions of hands by computer. The good news for the average player is that all the hard work in developing basic strategy for blackjack has been done; if math isn't your thing, no problem.
So, let's begin.
The object of the game is simple: to beat the dealer's total
without busting (scoring a total over 21 when adding up the value of all the cards in your hand.) A picture (face) card always has a value of 10, and an ace can be valued at 1 or 11, whichever makes the best hand.
At the start of a new hand, the dealer will give each player at the table one card in turn, starting from his left, then one card to himself, then another card to each player, and finally another to himself. The dealer's second card will be dealt face down.
The best starting hand a player can have is a blackjack
, or natural 21
, as it can never lose. A blackjack consists of any 10-valued card
and any ace
. Blackjack pays 3-to-2
, so if you bet $10, you will receive $15 plus your original bet returned to you. Nice!
A blackjack is paid immediately
, unless the dealer also has a blackjack, which he will check for before he continues with the hand. If this does happen, your blackjack is a push, or standoff, and your original bet is returned to you.
If you don't receive a blackjack, your first two cards will give you a total somewhere between 2 (a pair of aces) and 20 (a pair of 10-valued cards). At this point, the new player will be wondering what options they have, so let's look at them. You can:
- Hit, which means you ask the dealer for another card.
- Stand, which means you think your hand is as strong as it's likely to get.
- Split. If you have a pair of cards of the same rank, you can split them to make 2 hands.
- Double down. If you think your hand is particularly strong (we'll discuss later how to decide this) you can double your original bet. You will then receive one (and only one) more card on this hand.
I'll leave it there for today; as I continue with this series I'll be posting every day, so please do come again soon. The next posts will cover when to make one of the above 4 decisions.
If you want to ask any questions about anything on this blog, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
- I don't bite and always enjoy hearing from readers.
Luck to all!