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Blackjack Rules and Variations

Basic Blackjack Rules

Your goal in blackjack is to get a higher score than the dealer without exceeding 21. Both player and dealer are dealt two cards each initially. The player's hand is addressed first. Depending on the situation and what you want to do, you can stand (stay) with your hand, hit (ask for another card), double (increase bet and ask for just one more card), surrender to the dealer or split cards into two hands. A player can stand at any time as long as he or she has not busted (gone over 21).

In general, low card totals like 8-10 are safe to hit with since you won't bust with one more card; middle cards 12-16 are tricky since you can go bust with them; high totals like 19 and 20 are excellent to stand with. A blackjack win pays 3 to 2.

Blackjack Dealer Rules

The dealer has no say on what to do with his or her cards. The dealer's moves are set by the casino rules for blackjack. These may vary from house to house but are basically the same.

Once the player has either stood or busted, the dealer's hand must be addressed. Their hole card is revealed. If the dealer's hand total is 17 or higher, they must stand. If it is 16 or lower, they must hit again and again until they obtain a score of 17 or higher.

In addition, if a dealer's up card is an ace, you may take insurance. This is a side bet that the dealer has a blackjack. You can ignore this option since it is very disadvantageous for the player.

You may wonder why the rules work the way they do. Well, long story short, it puts the casino at an advantage over you. Hehehe.

Blackjack Rule Variations

Blackjack is a game prone to analysis and manipulation by what are known as advantage players. These are professional gamblers who look for weak spots in the game that they can use to overcome the house edge. To foil their attempts, some casinos have modified their blackjack rules.

Some changes in blackjack rules include:

- Blackjack pays even money or 6 to 5 (not 3 to 2). - Double down is only for 10 or 11. - Dealer must hit on a soft hand of 17. (A "soft" hand has an ace in it.) - Automatic shuffling machines. - Multiple decks.

Players would do well to avoid playing blackjack under such conditions. There are always better tables elsewhere.