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How to Play Blackjack in Las Vegas and Win!

Blackjack / 21 Basic Rules

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Blackjack or twenty-one as it is sometimes called is played in casinos all over the world including online casinos. For the most part the rules for playing are pretty much the same all over.

Most casinos use a multiple deck shoe which can hold up to eight decks of cards. Some of the casinos use shoes that constantly shuffle the cards. I mention this so you will not waste your time and money on card counting methods. These may have worked years ago but not today.

Fun can be had, and money can be made playing Blackjack if you know what you are doing. Here is how money can be made. If you learn the simple playing strategy presented here you will be playing pretty close to even money or sometimes better than even with the casino. These techniques also apply to internet casinos.

You will win some of the time and you will lose some of the time. The advantage you have over the casino is that when you are winning you can walk away. There is a saying on Wall Street that may apply here. ďThe bears make money, the bulls make money, but the pigs go broke.Ē I believe it is better to make a small profit than lose your bankroll trying to break the bank.

Before getting into playing strategy, just a word or two for the beginner on how the actual game is played. The table itself is often a semi-circle around which the players are seated. The dealers stands across from them. In a multi-shoe game all cards a dealt face up, two to a player. The dealer also gets two cards but one of them is face down. ONLY THE DEALER TOUCHES THE CARDS.

Always keep this in mind. Even though the game is called Blackjack or Twenty One, the goal is not to get 21 but to get a higher total than the dealer with out going over 21, or as they say busting. When you want another card to add to your hand, tap your finger. This is called taking a hit. You may take as many hits as you want as long as you do not go over 21. When you are satisfied with your cards, simply wave your hand over them and the dealer will know not to hit you. The dealer has to hit his hand when he has 16 or less and stand on 17 or better,

In adding up the total of your cards, all card get their face value such as 3, 4, 5, 6 etc. Picture cards have a value of ten. An Ace can be 1 or 11. When you are dealt a hand that has no Aces, it is called a Hard Hand, for example 7 and 9, which of course equal 16. When a hand has an Ace in it, for example Ace and 5, it too is 16 or a 6, because an Ace can be called 11or 1, the choice is yours. When an Ace is in a hand, it is called a Soft Hand. Most hands are of course Hard Hands.

Blackjack Strategy

basic blackjack / 21 strategy rules
There are various charts that have been printed outlining a basic strategy to win at blackjack, but most people find them difficult to memorize and are embarrassed to show them while seated at the blackjack table. As a result I have broken these computer based rules into a few easy to understand sentences.

It can be helpful to learn the rules by practicing before you gamble for real money. There are many online websites that let you play for free to sharpen your skills.  Free blackjack apps also exist for your mobile phone which allows you to practice on your trip or in the hotel.

However, if you want, you can print the chart shown on the left. Las Vegas casinos permit you to bring these charts at the table. The people sitting next to you might get a bit impatient as you look at it to figure out your play, but if you are playing against a machine or online, it won't matter. 

Playing Strategy when you have a Hard Hand (no Aces)

From 3 to 11 in your hand always hit regardless of dealerís up card and keep hitting until the strategy says you should stand.

When you have 12 to 16 in your hand always hit except when dealerís up card is 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 then stand. When dealer shows 7 or better you must hit.

Always stand on 17 through 21 regardless of dealerís up card.

Playing Strategy when you have a Soft Hand

A soft hand is one where at least one card is an Ace, that counts for 1 or 11 at your option. When you have a great hand A8, A9, A10 (Blackjack pays 3 to 2), stand regardless of dealerís up card. With all other combinations of Ace and another card, always hit because with the 1 or 11 option you can only improve your hand. When you decide how to use the Ace you can next apply the Hard Hand rules as to when to hit or stand.



When to Split a Hand

You should always split Aces, Nines and Eights. If your two cards are tens do not split them as 20 is a very good hand. When it come to splitting the other pairs the rules are very complicated and they do not change the odds of the game very much, but keep in mind it is better to keep two 5ís giving you a 10 to draw to than two hands of 5.


Doubling Down

Doubling Down is allowed by the casinos. The casinos vary as to what cards they allow you to double down on. Traditionally most casinos allow doubling on 10 and 11. Upon doubling down you double the size of your bet. You are only allowed a one card hit when you double down. Some experts agree that it is a good move for the player. A well know expert takes a different view. He says to double down only if the dealer is showing a 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6. Others, and this is my view say, by doubling you limit yourself to one card. Why take the chance? 10 or 11 is a good number to hit to. Why lower your chances of a win.



Related Guides: Craps/Dice Guide | Roulette Guide | Slots Guide


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