Everything You Should Know About Blackjack (But Don’t)
Blackjack is one of the most popular card games and the first choice for many gamblers on online casinos and the on gambling floor. The apparent simplicity of blackjack makes it particularly popular – but it’s actually a complex game with hundreds of different ways to play it and chapters to be written on strategy.
If you’d like to read the rules first, you can find them either on Bicycle Cards: How to Play Blackjack or on Pagat’s Blackjack Rules – and once you’ve got the rules down, let’s move on to the rest.
So, once you’ve placed your bet and the first cards have been dealt, what are your options to make your way to twenty-one – or at least as close as you can get?
Hit: “Hitting” means you’d like another card – go over 21, and you’re bust. It’s usually considered risky to “hit” when you’ve already got a high-ranking number or card.
Stand: “Stand” means that you’d like to stick with what you have – and then you hope that either the dealer doesn’t reach 21, or goes bust. Stand on lower numbers only works when you’re confident the dealer’s next hand is a bust.
Double Down: “Doubling down” means that you double your initial bet in exchange for one card from the dealer, after which you have to stand with what you’ve got. Temptingly profitable, but most risky.
Split: Have a matching pair of cards? “Split” allows you to split them into two separate bets. You can’t “double down” on a split, and you can only “split” a hand once. Usually, one hand is almost guaranteed to go bust – except maybe when the Gods of Chance are smiling, which is too risky for most.
You can practice blackjack online for free on various websites. Our Dutch readers might enjoy HEX Online Casinos.
Blackjack Terms and Strategy
Confused? Every card games has its own terms only known to people around the table. Here are some of the most essential blackjack terms that you’ll hear.
Blackjack: Aside from referring to the game itself, the term “Blackjack” also refers to achieving a perfect score of 21 with the combination of a 10-point card and an Ace. (Traditionally, it’s not customary to yell “Blackjack!” in the same way you would yell “Bingo!” – so don’t.)
Early surrender: Early surrender is a rule that’s mostly seen in online gambling, where the player is given the option to forfeit their hand when the dealer is aiming blackjack. A surrender is the equivalent of a poker fold.
Five card Charlie: Five card Charlie refers to a winning hand that doesn’t (surprisingly) go bust in five added cards. It’s also a cool nickname, but confusing if the person’s name isn’t Charlie, Charlene or Charles at all.
Hole card: Within blackjack, the hole card is literally the Ace in the hole – the unseen, face-down card on the table that, at that point in the hand, could mean anything.
Soft hands: Did someone mention your soft hand at the table? They’re not trying to be creepy, they’re referring to the fact that your hand (containing an Ace) can become either 1 or 11. Soft hands don’t go “bust” as easily.
Tokes: Surprisingly, this doesn’t mean passing your dealer a joint in the casino. Passing your toke to a dealer is a gambling term that refers to tipping the dealer – and it’s good manners in most places, especially when you’ve won the hand. A possible origin for the word is that it’s short for tokens (of appreciation).
Three Essential Blackjack Movies
Want to immerse yourself in the game of blackjack even further? Start off with these three essential blackjack movies.
If you’ve heard whispers of the MIT Blackjack Team and want to find out more (and see one of the best gambling-themed movies of all time), start off with 21.
2. Rain Man
Still standing as a cinema classic, Rain Man features blackjack, casinos, Vegas and card counting all-in-one.
3. The House
The House is one the funniest gambling-themed movies around featuring Amy Poehler and Will Ferrel, and it might even stand right next to other classics like Vegas Vacation.