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How to play the games

Blackjack "21"

This game is the most popular of the table games, possibly because it is so simple to play.  The object of the game is to beat the dealer by getting closest to 21 without going over 21.  You must have a higher hand than the dealer to win.  Ties or Pushes result in no money exchanged.  The game is played on a semi-circular table with spots for 6 or 7 of you.  The dealer faces you and starts from his/her left dealing the cards.  You must place your bet in the betting spot in front of you.  The dealer cannot take money from your hand, so take the amount you have budgeted to play with and get checks for your money.  Place this money and place it on the right side of your betting spot.  Then take your checks and place the amount you would like to bet in your betting spot and move the rest of your checks behind your betting spot.  Never touch your bet after the dealer starts dealing.  You will be given one card and then a second.  The dealer will have two cards as well, one face up; the up card, and one face down; the hold card. 

There are two ways that are played in Las Vegas.  The first is that you never touch your cards.  They are always face up for everyone at the table to see.  You signal the dealer that you want another card ("hit") by brushing your fingers on the table toward you.  To "stay" and not accept any more cards wave off the dealer with your hand.  The second way the game is played is that you may pick up the cards in your hand, NOT two hands.  The dealer will yell at you if you touch the cards with two hands.  This is the case when your cards are dealt to you face down.  To hit you now brush your cards toward you, and to stay, slide your cards under your bet.  Please don't bend your cards.  When the dealer has gone to each of you sitting at the table, he/she will then play her/his cards.  If you beat the dealer's cards without going over 21 you get paid the amount that is in your betting spot.  If the dealer busts and you have under 21 you also get paid.  You may then touch your bet and your winnings.

The value of the cards:

  • face cards(King, Queen, Jack) are worth 10.
  • Tens are worth 10.
  • Aces count as 1 or 11. 
  • All other cards are counted at face value.

Options When Playing:

Double Down
After your initial two cards are dealt to you, doubling down is sometimes an option.  This may be done at almost anytime, But usually only in  certain circumstances (see the strategy matrix).  When  you double down, you must double your bet by placing the extra checks next to your initial bet.  You then get one card.  The dealer then moves on to the next player.  You may look at your card  with one hand, but it is considered bad luck to touch it.

Splitting Pairs
When you receive two of the same cards, you have the option of splitting them by again doubling your bet in the same fashion as doubling down.  You are essentially playing two hands now.  The advantage of doing this is taking one bad hand and turning it into two good hands. 

When the dealer shows an ace as her/his up card, he/she will give everyone the option of insurance against the dealer getting blackjack.  This is not usually considered a smart wager or bet.  If you do buy the insurance which is half your original bet, and the dealer does in fact have blackjack, the result is a no loss to you.  If the dealer does not have blackjack, you lose your insurance.  The hand is then played out as normal.

This is done when you have a bad hand and the dealer seems to have a good hand(showing a high up card).  You surrender half your bet and you are done with that hand. 

There are many different strategies people go by when trying to beat the house.  The one to use is basic strategy.  Below you will see a chart with what to do based on your hand and the dealer's up card, but some important strategies that you should always abide by when playing blackjack are the following:

  • Always Double Down when you have eleven.
  • Always split when you have two 8's or two aces.
  • Never hit when you have thirteen or more and the dealer is showing a bust card as the up card.  A bust card is a 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6.
  • Never hit on twelve when the dealer is showing 3, 4, 5, or 6.

Click here for a strategy matrix...

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