Blackjack is actually a very simple game (less so, maybe, than slots or roulette, but in my opinion far easier to jump into playing than any form of poker or even craps… and let’s not even get into baccarat!).

The goal is to get closer to 21 than anyone else (especially the dealer) without going over (busting).

The numbered cards are worth exactly what they say, and the face cards are worth 10. The Ace is a special case (hey, that rhymes!) because it can be worth either 11 or 1 (that’s called “soft” when you have the choice, and “hard” when you don’t).

Players get two cards that they can see, and the dealer gets one that the players can see and one that they cannot (unless you’re in Europe).

Of course, if you start with an Ace and a card worth 10, it’s over right there with a “blackjack”. The only defense against this is if there is a tie (which in blackjack is called a “push”).

If you have less than 21 to start (more likely), you’ll have to decide whether to “stand” (stay right where you are) or “hit” (take another card). Generally, the closer you are to 21, the more likely you’ll want to stand… but it also depends on what the dealer is showing (more on that later).

It gets a little trickier after that. “Double” or “Double Down” means that you hit for one card only with a double bet that you’ll win.

“Split” means you have two of the same kind of card and you use each one to make a separate hand, which you can double, hit, stand… just like any other hand, except that it gives you two chances to win or lose.

And of course there are other options, largely depending on the casino in which you are playing. Things like “insurance”, hit or stand on soft 17, et cetera. Always check the rules before you make your first bet!

Other than that it is pretty simple. In this game the entire table is playing against the house or dealer. There is no need to be in competition with anyone other than the dealer but it would work to your advantage to pay attention to the cards being dealt.

You see, if you are noticing a lot of face cards coming out and being used up, maybe you should lay off the bet a bit because there are less of them available so the odds of you getting one of those lower number cards has risen up substantially.

In reverse, if you notice that there are a lot of number cards being played hand after hand, maybe you should raise your bet up a little bit because the odds of you getting those more valuable face cards has gone up this time.

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