So I wrote an article on blackjack that seems a bit advanced for some players who are new to both blackjack and statistical gambling. Rather than clutter the original I decided to explain some of the basics of blackjack, and the torn blackjack game, so those who want to try it don’t have to guess their way through it.
Now during this discussion I will presume we are always betting 100. I will use the following to talk about cards:
A = Ace
2-9 = 2-9
T = Ten, Jack, Queen or King (any card of value 10)
J = Jack, Q = Queen, K=King
Scoring and the goal of blackjack
So in blackjack each card has a value from 2-10, with Aces being special in that they count as 1 or 11 depending on the rest of the cards
||10 / J/ Q/ K
||1 OR 11
Both player and dealer are dealt two cards to start, although the player only sees one of the dealers.
The player must then choose an option based on the total score of their hand and the potential score of the dealers final hand
Normally the player has two choices, either ‘stand‘ with their current total, or ‘hit‘ and get another card to add to the total. If the players total is over 21 however the player loses instantly.
When the player stands with a score under or equal to 21 the dealer then has to ‘hit’ until their total is over 16. Again if the dealer goes over 21 the dealer loses, but the player wins.
If both players manage to make a score of under 21 the highest score wins. If they have the same score then normally they ‘push’ – meaning the player does not win or lose, but gets their stake back.
Bust: Player has more than 21
Lose: Player has a lower total than the dealer, or a hand not as strong as the dealer
Win: Player has a stronger hand, or higher score, than the dealer
Push: Your hand is equal in value and strength to that of the dealer
Soft score hands
So a soft score is one where an ace is used at a value of 11. As a starting hand you may have A2, A3, A4, A5… A9. If we take A6 for example it can either count as 7 or 17 (although when you stand it is always the highest value that counts). These hands are good because you can hit without fear of busting, with anything of value 1,2,3 or 4 getting you closer to 21, any T giving you the same total but ‘hard’ meaning if you hit again you can bust, or anything 5-9 giving you less score.
The special hands
There are in torn blackjack 2 special types of hand.
The first is the most famous being 21 – or in torn Natural. That is an Ace and any card with a value of 10. If the player has this combination to start with they win and get paid 3:2 (100 + 150 winnings)
The second is 5 card charlie – Not often found in casinos – That is any 5 cards with a value of under 21. A 5 card charlie will beat any hand other than Natural, or a higher valued 5 card charlie. This is where soft hands have good potential, A2-6 for example can put you in a good place for that 5 card charlie, or give you 2 chances of getting to 21.
When you are dealt two of the same card you can Split your hand. This means you pay another 100 and now have two hands to play against the dealer instead of one. If you do this at the right time though that means you can win twice as much, right?
If you are feeling lucky, or you think your cards compared to the dealers allow for it, you can double your bet and get an extra (and last) card. This can only be done when you only have two cards (if you have split your hand you can only double on the second hand). If you win you win twice that amount (400)
If you are almost certain the dealer has you beat, and you still only have two cards (again not on first split hand though) you can surrender and get half your bet back (50).
If you have a good hand, but the dealer is showing an Ace, you might worry that he has AT. Insurance will cost you 50, but if the dealer has AT you will win 150 (covering your bet). Not great odds, you may only want to use this feature to get your merit!
WARNING: Blackjack is a game of luck, and even with a winning strategy in the short term you can lose big. If you are going to play only ever gamble a small fraction of the total amount you are willing to lose!