Blackjack, one of the most popular casino table games, involves both luck and strategy. The object is to have the cards in your own hand come closer than the dealer’s hand to the number 21 without exceeding it.
The beauty of Blackjack is the dealer has no decisions or strategy in his role — he merely deals the cards and strictly obeys the few rules the game lays out for him.
There are two kinds of blackjack games played in casinos, which can use up to eight decks. One is the single or two-deck game where the dealer holds the cards and deals them out face down to each player.
In multi-deck games, a card shoe is employed which uses up to eight decks and shuffles the cards after each game. The cards are dealt out face up in front of the player and each player is not allowed to pick them up.
A hand in either type is also dealt to the dealer, only one of which is face up in the initial deal, the face down card is called the hole, and the object of the game is to beat the dealer’s hand. In some Blackjack games, the hole is not drawn until all the players have played their hands.
No matter how many players are on the table, the hand to beat is the house or dealer hand. A player always goes first when deciding either to get hit (get more cards) or to stand (stay with the present hand) at each turn, and the dealer will draw more cards until someone comes up with a twenty-one (blackjack) or goes bust.
All players who go bust automatically lose, whether the dealer goes bust or not. The dealer must draw if his cards are on 17 with an ace in the hand (called a “soft” hand because the Ace could have a value of 1 or 11) or 16 or less, and must stand at a hard (meaning no aces) 17 or more. If the dealer goes bust, all players who have not will win.
As you can see, Blackjack is a game of strategy and skill as well as chance, a game deceptively simple to play but a challenge to master!