Blackjack: A Crash Course
By Alex J. Coyne © 2018 Great Bridge Links
Got a game of blackjack coming up and want to make sure you’re at the top of your game? We’ve collected some of the best resources for learning blackjack in a hurry, including a rundown of the rules, where to find free lessons, forums and newsletters to pick up the best tips from players – and even some places to play for practice online.
Blackjack is fun to play at home especially if you have a crowd that doesn’t know much about other forms of poker. It’s easy to learn, has fun betting opportunities (you can use poker chips of course), and you can rotate the dealer so everyone gets a chance to play. But blackjack is also a great game at the casinos! My mother was an avid blackjack player and taught us kids how to play around the kitchen table on Sunday nights.
According to the World of Playing Cards, blackjack most likely has its origin in French casinos, where it was originally known by the name Vingt-et-Un, or Twenty-One. People started calling it blackjack because of the bonus payout from the casino if a black jack was dealt with an ace of spades: An immediate 21.
The official rules of Blackjack are available from Bicycle Cards’ website. Generally, it’s played by between two and seven players.
The rules for winning a game of blackjack are simple – one of the reasons it’s one of the world’s most popular card games! The player has to either reach 21 within their own hand, see the dealer bust and win the hand automatically or end up with a higher score than the dealer when the dealer can no longer “hit” or draw.
In most forms of blackjack, players are dealt two cards. They then have the following options:
- Hit: An extra card is taken from the deck and added to the player’s hand. (Careful here! Exceed 21 and you bust: A loss to the house.)
- Stand: When you’re happy with your hand, you stand – and the dealer plays his hand (usually, with one of the two cards face down.)
- Double: Double, or doubling down, means “doubling” your initial bet – but the catch is that you only get to draw one more card as a “hit”, so only do this when you’re sure.
- Split: When dealt two same-ranking cards (two aces, for example), the player has the option to “split” this into two hands – with individual bets. A risky move, though one that can get you a much better payout should you manage.
Blackjack Publications, Magazines & Newsletters
It helps to keep an eye on what’s happening in the world of blackjack publications – even if you’re just reading it to pick up tips on strategy or info on the next big tournament! Try Blackjack Forum Online, Blackjack Info Forum, Blackjack Insider or BJ21.com, run by veteran blackjack player Stanford Wong.
Amazon has a great selection of blackjack books – my mother’s favourite used to be Beat the Dealer by Edward O. Thorp (1966). And there are quite a few bridge authors who have also written blackjack books. Funnily enough, there’s also a Blackjack for Blood (see our article Bridge for Blood, coming soon!)
Free Blackjack Lessons
The internet is a great resource for free learning. Here are some free courses and lessons on offer that’ll teach you some insider secrets about blackjack playing:
Blackjack on your personal device
The only way to improve at anything is to practice – and you might prefer doing so in front of your PC before you stake any cash on it at the tables or online. Here are some blackjack practicing options…