Live Blackjack Rules
Premise of the GameBlackjack is unusual in that you're not playing against your fellow players. Instead you are playing against the dealer alone. Basically, you are betting that you have a better hand than the dealer, and the better hand is the one that is closest to 21 without exceeding 21. When the hand's value exceeds 21 the hand is 'bust', the player has lost and must then forfeit his entire bet.
Cards 2 through 10 are valued at their face value. Face cards – Jacks, Queens and Kings – are all valued at 10. The Ace can be valued at either 1 or 11. A hand's value is the sum of the card values in that hand.
Once players have placed their bets, the dealer begins to deal from his left. Each player receives 2 cards, sometimes facing up, sometimes facing down depending on the table and the casino. The dealer is also dealt 2 cards, usually one face down and one face up. Players can then draw additional cards (hit) to try and improve their hand.
Soft and Hard Hands
A soft hand is a hand that includes an Ace that can be either 1 or 11 without the hand exceeding 21. For example, (5 + Ace) is a 'soft' 15, as the Ace can be counted as either 1 or 11 without the hand exceeding 21. A hand of (5 + Ace + 10) would be a 'hard' 16, as the Ace here must be counted as 1 otherwise the hand will exceed 21.
The dealer waits until all players have played their hands before he plays his own. He must then play his hand in a strict, rule-governed way. There are two popular rules of play that govern what total the dealer must draw to.
'Dealer stands on all 17's' – this means that the dealer must continue to take cards until his hand's value reaches 17 or higher. He must then stand.
'Dealer hits soft 17' – this means that if the dealer's hand's value reaches soft 17, he must hit again.
Hitting and Standing
To hit means to draw an additional card. You can hit as many times as you like until you reach 21 or go bust. To stand means to stick with the cards that you already have.
Splitting and Doubling Down
If you are dealt two identical cards, you can choose to split them. You can then play two separate hands, but you must place a second bet on this second hand.
Doubling down allows you to double the bet on your first two cards, but you can then only draw one more card. This is a particularly useful option if you feel you have a good hand – an 11 for example, where you cannot go bust if you choose to hit - but you suspect that the dealer has a poor hand.
If your first two cards total 21 – ie, an Ace plus any 10-value card – you have Blackjack, sometimes called a Natural. This hand beats all other hands and the payoff is usually 3:2 rather than 1:1. If the dealer also has Blackjack, this is a tie and your bet is 'pushed', in that it doesn't pay off but instead carries through into the next game.
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