Blackjack Game Options
Normally, some of the most important rules, such as “Blackjack pays 3 to 2” and “Dealer must draw on 16 and stand on all 17’s” are printed on the table. After receiving your first two cards you may elect to wager an additional amount not to exceed the value of the original bet. With a double down, you will be dealt one additional card only.
A soft hand is any hand where an Ace can be counted as either 1 or 11 without going over 21. The name reflects the fact that the hand can’t break if you draw another card. Since you get to see one card before making your bet, you should always bet the max when your 1st card is an ace or a 10. The probability of getting that 2 to 1 payoff on a blackjack is just too good to ignore in that situation.
Again, dealers do not have the option to deviate from the rules set by the casino. Another option open to the player is doubling their bet when the original two cards dealt total 9, 10, or 11. With two fives, the player may split a pair, double down, or just play the hand in the regular way. Note that the dealer does not have the option of splitting or doubling down.
This makes single-deck games better for counters. As a result, casinos are more likely to insist that players do not reveal their cards to one another in single-deck games. In games with more decks, casinos limit penetration by ending the shoe and reshuffling when one or more decks remain undealt. Casinos also sometimes use a shuffling machine to reintroduce the cards every time a deck has been played. Even when surrender is available, it is rarely used by players. Often, the rules posted at the table won’t mention it even if the casino allows it.
Do you want to hand over to the casino $12 per hour for the privilege of playing blackjack? Of course you wouldn’t but that is exactly what you do when you play the 6-to-5 single deck game at a $10 minimum bet. If you bet $10 and get a blackjack in a traditional game (3-to-2 payoff on blackjack) you will win $15.
Most of the house’s edge comes from the fact that the player loses when both the player and dealer bust. Blackjack players using basic strategy lose less than an average of 1% of their action over the long run, giving blackjack one of the lowest edges in the casino. The house edge for games where blackjack pays 6 to 5 instead of 3 to 2 increases by about 1.4%, though. Player deviations from basic strategy also increase the house edge. The goal of Blackjack is to have a hand that totals higher than the dealer’s, but doesn’t total to higher than 21. If your hand totals higher than 21, it is called a “bust”, which means you are out of the game.