Blackjack is, as we all know, one of the most famous and beloved card games of all time. It’s a staple at casinos, both online and in the physical world, and it can even be played with friends for fun.
As anyone who has ever played a game of blackjack in a casino will tell you, the most important part of any game of blackjack is that opening hand that you’re dealt. All other play, whether you hit, stay, double or split comes from those two cards. Not that what comes next doesn’t matter, but you can pretty much judge your next moves purely based on that opening hand.
What many might not know, though, is how those initial cards are dealt and what to actually make of those opening cards.
Here, then, is a simple look at those opening moments of any round of blackjack – whether in a casino or at home with friends or online.
A Quick Overview of Blackjack
Before getting to the dealing, let’s consider the game as a whole. The object of any game of blackjack is simple: to have the value of your cards come closer to 21 than the dealer, without going over 21. Aces are worth 1 or 11 depending on how you want to use it, Jack, Queen and King are each worth 10, and the rest of the cards are worth their face value.
This all begins with the two cards you are dealt by the dealer in the opening round.
A Step by Step Guide to the Opening Moments of a Game of Blackjack
Here’s what the beginning of each round of Blackjack looks like:
- Each player bets a certain amount of money before being dealt any cards.
- Most tables have a minimum and maximum opening bet.
- There is no logic to how much to bet. Bet more if you feel lucky, bet less if you’re feeling cautious.
- Once all bets are placed, the dealer deals one card face up to each player, starting with the player on his (or her) left and going in a clockwise motion until finally dealing a card to himself.
- Next up, the dealer deals a second card face up to all players, again starting from the left and going in a clockwise motion. When it is time to deal himself a card, though, he deals himself a card facing down.
- Before any further play occurs, the dealer checks for “naturals” or “blackjacks” as they are best known. A blackjack is when the player’s opening hand includes an ace and one of the cards that equal 10 (a 10 or a picture card).
- If a player has a blackjack, the dealer immediately pays them 1.5x their original bet and the player ends the round there.
- If the facing up card of the dealer is a 10-value card or an ace, he checks his own hand to see if he has a blackjack. He does not reveal the second card unless he sees that he has a blackjack. If he does, he takes all bets placed immediately from everyone except players who also have a blackjack – for whom their blackjack is a “push” with the dealer’s and they simply take their original bets back.
The Rest of the Round
With the opening hand established, as above, the dealer asks each player what they want to do next.
Their options include:
- Hit. Players are dealt another card.
- Stay. Players stop playing there and no further cards are dealt to them.
- Double. The player is so confident that they will beat the dealer that they ask for one more card and double their bet.
- Split. If their opening hand includes two of the same cards, they may “split” their hand and create two new hands with one new card dealt for each and their original bet is placed on the second hand as well.
Players keep hitting until they either go bust (go over 21) or until they stay. After this the dealer reveals their own hand and they have to hit until either going bust or reaching 17. Those players with hands worth more than the dealer are paid out 1:1 and those who don’t lose their bets.
This is how every game of blackjack goes, but it’s a tense, exciting game each round that can leave the player with a fair amount of profit when they leave the table or completely broke. Which is why it’s so important to responsibly gamble and set limits on how much money you can afford to lose at the table without cutting into crucial day to day expenses or, worse, going into debt.