Blackjack is, perhaps arguably, the most popular of all casino card games, with even more fans than the mighty game of table poker. There are quite a few reasons why the game has remained so popular ever since it first appeared in Europe over two centuries ago. One of them is that it is amazingly easy to learn to play, with newbies getting the hang of online blackjack within a few minutes.
Modern online blackjack also has one of the lowest house edges of any casino game and is even more favourable in this regard than slot games. Aside from offering a super low house edge (at just 0.5% it’s even lower than video poker which comes in at around 5.5%), blackjack is also exciting and alluring.
The game has a certain edgy charm about it, a certain element of danger and rock n roll attitude. Even the name ‘blackjack’ sounds pretty bad ass compared to other casino games with more tame sounding names.
If you’re thinking about trying this iconic casino card game for yourself, this quick and easy guide to basic blackjack hands and how the game works is the ideal place to start.
So Why is it Called Blackjack?
The original game that we now know as blackjack used to be called 21 or Vinget Un in France and Ventuina in Spain, long before it ever made its way to the Americas. The popular story is that, when the game was introduced to New Orleans and a variety of small towns along the Mississippi (via steamboat), a certain make-shift casino owner decided to attract players with a new kind of bet.
The bet consisted of producing a two card winning hand of 21 but the catch was that the cards had to be an Ace of Spades and a Jack of Spades. This is how the winning hand got its name of black – jack. Another version of the story is that the winning hand just had to be a black ace and jack to make the 21 winning hand. Whichever story is more accurate is a bit irrelevant, since the main point is that the name stuck and, as names of games go, is pretty amazing.
Basic Blackjack – Card Values and Hands
Blackjack card values are very easy to understand and, once you know what the cards represent in terms of numerical value, you will find making winning blackjack hands much easier to pull off. Essentially, the game uses a standard deck of playing cards (without jokers of course). All number cards from 2 to 9 have their face value in the game. All Ace cards are either valued as 1 or 11, depending on how they are being used in the hand. All picture cards (king, queen and jack) are valued at 10.
The best hand in blackjack is a black ace and a black jack, giving the highest possible combined hand value of 21. However, since the aim of the game is to get 21 or as close as possible to this total without going over, there are quite a few combinations that can win a round of blackjack.
Incidentally, going over 21 is called a ‘bust’ and puts you out of the game automatically. The name of the game is to beat the dealer (and not other players like it is in poker) and, if the dealer has to hit on 16 and stand on 17 (most tables), you can win with a variety of cards, adding them up to get as close to 21 as possible.
Ultimate Blackjack Tip for Newbies
Well, there are actually two ultimate tips for blackjack newbies here. Firstly, once you are familiar with card values and hand combinations, it is imperative to develop a basic blackjack strategy, which is kind of like a guide to knowing how to bet based on the dealers up card. Secondly, play as many free online blackjack games as you can, this will allow you to develop a solid blackjack strategy without risking any money – just yet.