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How to play Balckjack?

Blackjack (also known as Twenty-one, Vingt-et-un (French for Twenty-one), or Pontoon) is the most widely played casino banking game in the world.[1] Much of blackjack's popularity is due to the mix of chance with elements of skill, and the publicity that surrounds card counting (calculating the probability of advantages based on the ratio of high cards to low cards). The casino version of the game should not be confused with the British card game Black Jack

In casino blackjack, the dealer faces one to seven players from behind a kidney-shaped table. Each player plays his hand independently against the dealer. At the beginning of each round, the player places a bet in the "betting box" and receives an initial hand of two cards. The object of the game is to get a higher card total than the dealer, but without going over 21 which is called "busting" or "too many." (The spot cards count 2 to 9; the 10, jack, queen, and king count as ten; an ace can be either 1 or 11.) The player goes first and plays his hand by taking additional cards if he desires. If he busts, he loses. Then the dealer plays her hand. If the dealer busts, she loses to all remaining players. If neither busts, the higher hand total wins. In case of a tie, no one wins - the hand is a "push." It is possible for the dealer to lose to some players but still beat other players in the same round.

Cards are dealt in two ways, either from one or two hand-held decks, or from a box containing four to eight decks called a "shoe." When dealt by hand, the player's two initial cards are face-down, while the dealer has one face-up card called the "upcard" and one face-down card called the "hole card." (In European blackjack, the hole card is not actually dealt until the players all play their hands.) When dealt from a shoe, all player cards are normally dealt face-up, with minor exceptions. It shouldn't matter to the player whether his cards are dealt face-down or face-up since the dealer must play according to predetermined rules. If the dealer has less than 17, she must hit. If the dealer has 17 or more, she must stand (take no more cards), unless it is a "soft 17" (a hand that includes an ace valued as "11," for example a hand consisting of Ace+6, or Ace+2+4). With a soft 17, the dealer follows the casino rules printed on the blackjack table, either to "hit soft 17" or to "stand on all 17's."

The highest possible hand is a "blackjack" or "natural," meaning an initial two-card total of 21 (an ace and a ten-value card). A player blackjack is an automatic winner unless the dealer also has blackjack, in which case the hand is a "push" (a tie). When the dealer upcard is an ace, the player is allowed to make a side bet called "insurance," supposedly to guard against the risk that the dealer has a blackjack (i.e., a ten-value card as her hole card). The insurance bet pays 2-to-1 if the dealer has a blackjack. Whenever the dealer has a blackjack, she wins against all player hands except those that also have a blackjack (which are a "push").

The minimum and maximum bets are posted on the table. The payoff on most bets is 1:1, meaning that the player wins the same amount as he bets. The payoff for a player blackjack is 3:2, meaning that the casino pays $3 for each $2 originally bet. (There are some single-deck games which pay only 6:5 for a blackjack.)

[edit] Player decisions

After receiving his initial two cards, the player has four standard options: he can "Hit," "Stand," "Double Down," or "Split a pair." Each option requires the use of a hand signal. At some casinos or tables, the player may have a fifth option called "Surrender."

* Hit: Take another card.

signal: (handheld) scrape cards against table; (face up) touch finger to table

* Stand: Take no more cards, also "stick" or "stay".

signal: (handheld) slide cards under bet; (face up) move hand horizontally

* Double down: On his first two cards, the player may "double down," i.e., "double" his bet and receive only one card face "down." To do this he moves a second bet equal to the first into the betting box next to his original bet. (If desired, the player is usually allowed to "double down for less," although this is not a good idea.)

signal: place additional chips next to (not on top of) original bet, make "one finger" sign

* Split a pair: If his first two cards are a "pair," meaning two cards of the same value, the player can "split the pair." To do this, he moves a second bet equal to the first into the betting box next to his original bet. The dealer splits the cards to create two hands, placing one bet with each hand. The player then plays two separate hands.

signal: place additional chips next to (not on top of) original bet, make "two fingers" sign

* Surrender: Some casinos offer a fifth option called "Surrender." After the dealer has checked for blackjack, the player may "surrender" by giving up half his bet and not playing out the hand.

signal: There is no commonly accepted hand signal; it is just done verbally.

The reason for requiring hand signals is to assist the "eye in the sky," a person or video camera located above the table but concealed behind one-way glass. It is used in order to protect the casino against dealers or players who cheat. (It may also be used to protect the casino against card-counters, even though card-counting is not illegal.)

The player can take as many hits as he wants (except on a "double down"). However, if he busts, he loses that hand. After all the players have finished making their decisions, the dealer then reveals her hole card and plays out her hand according to predetermined rules.

Variants

Pontoon is an English variation of blackjack with significant rule and strategy differences. However, in Australia and Malaysia, Pontoon is an unlicensed version of the American game Spanish 21 played without a hole card; despite the name, it bears no relation to English Pontoon.

Spanish 21 provides players with many liberal blackjack rules, such as doubling down any number of cards (with the option to 'rescue', or surrender only one wager to the house), payout bonuses for five or more card 21s, 6-7-8 21s, 7-7-7 21s, late surrender, and player blackjacks always winning and player 21s always winning, at the cost of having no 10 cards in the deck (though there are jacks, queens, and kings).

21st Century Blackjack (also known as "Vegas Style" Blackjack) is commonly found in many California card rooms. In this form of the game, a player bust does not always result in an automatic loss; there are a handful of situations where the player can still push if the dealer busts as well, provided that the dealer busts with a higher total.

Certain rule changes are employed to create new variant games. These changes, while attracting the novice player, actually increase the house edge in these games. Double Exposure Blackjack is a variant in which the dealer's cards are both face-up. This game increases house edge by paying even money on blackjacks and players losing ties. Double Attack Blackjack has very liberal blackjack rules and the option of increasing one's wager after seeing the dealer's up card. This game is dealt from a Spanish shoe, and blackjacks only pay even money.

The French and German variant "Vingt-et-un" (Twenty-one) and "Siebzehn und Vier" (Seventeen and Four) don't include splitting. An ace can only count as eleven, but two aces count as a Blackjack. This variant is seldom found in casinos, but is more common in private circles and barracks.

Chinese Blackjack is played by many in Asia, having no splitting of cards, but with other card combination regulations.

Another variant is Blackjack Switch, a version of blackjack in which a player is dealt two hands and is allowed to switch cards. For example, if the player is dealt 10-6 and 5-10, then the player can switch two cards to make hands of 10-10 and 6-5. Natural blackjacks are paid 1:1 instead of the standard 3:2, and a dealer 22 is a push.

In Multiple Action Blackjack the player places between 2 or 3 bets on a single hand. The dealer then gets a hand for each bet the player places on a hand. This essentially doubles the number of hands a single dealer can play per hour. Splitting and Doubling are still allowed.

Recently, thanks to the popularity of poker, Elimination Blackjack has gained a following. Elimination Blackjack is a tournament format of blackjack.

Many casinos offer optional side bets at standard blackjack tables. For example, one common side-bet is "Royal Match", in which the player is paid if his first two cards are in the same suit, and receives a higher payout if they are a suited queen and king (and a jackpot payout if both the player and the dealer have a suited queen-king hand). Another increasingly common variant is "21+3," in which the player's two cards and the dealer's up card form a three-card poker hand; players are paid 9 to 1 on a straight, flush or three of a kind. These side bets invariably offer worse odds than well-played blackjack.

In April 2007 a new version of Blackjack, called Three Card Blackjack was approved for play in the State of Washington. Three Card Blackjack is played with one deck of 52 cards. In Three Card Blackjack the players place an ante bet. The players and dealer are then dealt 3 cards each. The players make the best blackjack (21) hand they can using 2 or all 3 cards. If the player likes his hand he makes a play bet that is equivalent to the ante bet. The dealer must qualify with an 18 or better. If the dealer qualifies and the player beats the dealer, the player is paid 1-1 on both the Ante and Play bets. If the dealer does not qualify, the player is paid 1-1 on his Ante bet and Play bet pushes. There is no hitting and no busting. At the same time that the player makes the Ante bet, he has the option of making an Ace Plus bet. If the player has one Ace in his hand of 3 cards, he gets paid 1-1. An Ace and a 10 or Face Card pays 3-1. An Ace and two 10's or Face cards is paid 5-1. Two Aces pays 15-1. Three Aces pays 100-1.