The casino is filled with all sorts of games. Some are glamorous, high rolling games of chance like roulette, craps and baccarat. Some are cheaper staples like slot and video poker machines. Some are high-stakes games of poker being played in exclusive VIP rooms. And yet, for all of this variety, aside from the ever-popular slot machines, one game continues to draw people in more than arguably any other: blackjack.
Why, though? It doesn’t have the glitz of a craps table or the roulette wheel and with all the advancements to video slot machines, it says something that a simple card game continues to be as popular as ever.
In fairness, anyone who has ever played blackjack would probably raise an eyebrow at such a question. It’s a perennial favorite for some very, very good reasons.
Here are a few of the most notable of those.
You’re Actually Playing the Game
Aside from poker, which is generally played in groups and is almost a category of its own, blackjack is the only casino game that is actually played by the player. Sure, in craps, you often roll the dice and on roulette and baccarat tables, you participate by placing bets, but the actual gameplay is largely out of your hands. In roulette, you don’t even get to spin the ball. And the less said about the passivity of slot machines, the better.
With blackjack, though, you actually get to play this game of cards against the dealer. You get to choose whether to hit, stay or double. Whether you win or lose is up to whether the right card comes up – which is entirely up to chance unless you’re able to count cards in a very old fashioned casino – but it’s entirely up to you how to play the hand you’re dealt.
It’s Not Just About Chance
Obviously, whether you win or not at blackjack is entirely dependent on the cards you draw, but just because it has a large element of luck doesn’t change the fact that blackjack is also very much a game of skill. You really have to be able to understand not just your hand but also how to play it against the dealer’s revealed card. There are times to split a couple of picture cards, times not to. Times to hit on 13, times to stay. Times to double up your bet, times to be cautious.
Blackjack obviously isn’t quite as much about strategy, social interaction or plain skill as poker is, but it’s still far ahead of most other games in this area.
An Option for a Variety of Budgets
In the same way that you’re not very likely to see high-rollers sitting in front of a 50c slot machine, you’re probably not going to see those with very limited budgets trying their luck at craps. Blackjack probably still isn’t for anyone who wants to spend a whole night at the casino with $200 in their pocket, but for anyone remotely serious about gaming, you can find a blackjack table for pretty much any budget, with minimum bets from a few dollars to, well, a lot more than that. The reason for this is simple: blackjack is incredibly popular so casinos like to offer as many options as possible for blackjack enthusiasts.
It’s a Very Balanced Game
Blackjack is simply a very balanced game that isn’t too hard, but not too easy; moderately priced; not too much skill, not too much luck. Playing poker, for example, requires a lot of skill if you want to win anything at it, and playing the slots requires zero skill and zero know-how to win, so blackjack falls nicely in the middle. You can pick it up as a beginner, but you’ll be better having played the game more often. Sitting around at a table with other players that you’re not directly competing against also makes it as social as you want it to be.
And that’s really the secret to its success. Blackjack is probably the most well rounded of all casino games. Even if you enjoy other games more, there are few gamblers who wouldn’t have blackjack as one of their favorite games.