# How To Play Blackjack

Blackjack is a game where you play against the dealer independently of other players, and the aim of the game, and why it is sometimes known as ‘21’, is to defeat the dealer by drawing cards whose sum are more than the dealers sum or add up to 21, when the dealers sum of cards is greater than the players sum. If your first two cards total 21 you will have achieved a natural Blackjack, with Blackjack being the highest hand.

Once you have placed your bet, you and the dealer will be dealt two cards each, and your cards are dealt face up, the dealers’ first card face down. The cards have different values: picture cards have a value of 10 points, and the Ace can be used as 1 or 11 points while all other cards have the same value as is printed on them. Suits have no relevance in Blackjack, and any card combined with an Ace (with a value of 11), other than picture cards with their value of 10, is considered a ‘soft hand’. ‘Hard hands’ are those where there is no Ace or the Ace has a value of 1.

If you are dealt your first two cards and they do not produce a Blackjack then you may refuse any more cards, which is known as a ‘stand’ or you can accept another card, known as a ‘hit’. If you hit, you can keep getting cards dealt until you either stand or ‘bust’, which is where you exceed 21. If you bust, you are out and lose your bet, no matter what the dealers hand is like. However, if the dealer busts by exceeding 21 and you have managed to stand without going bust, then you win. If you finish with the same totals, then you will have a ‘push’ which is a tie.

If you are dealt two cards with the same value you can split them into two separate hands, and make another bet equal to the first, but remember that a hand can only be split once in a game.

An important thing to remember is that blackjack is not a mere game of luck – it is a game of strategy. Basic strategy is making a mathematical analysis of the best way to play every hand given, whatever the circumstances at the table. The key to strategy is to know when you should hit and when you should stay or stand. A general rule of thumb is that you should stay if your cards have a value of 12 or higher if the dealer’s exposed card is 4, 5 or 6, but if you have less than 17 and the dealer has a face card, 10, 9 or 8 it is recommended to hit, as these cards make it very likely for the dealer to win with a high hand.

To use basic strategy to its full advantage you need to know the rules that you are playing to as online casinos provide multiple variations. Betfair Casino offers one of the fairest Blackjack games online, it's known as zero edge Blackjack ~ In ‘zero Blackjack' a Suited Natural Blackjack, where the players first two cards total 21 and are of the same suit (eg Ace of Spades and Jack of Spades), pays 2:1 instead of the standard payout of 3:2 for a Blackjack. A Suited Natural Blackjack does not beat a standard Blackjack and if both the player and dealer have a Blackjack (regardless of whether it is a standard Blackjack or Suited Natural Blackjack), it is always a “push”.

If at any stage the player achieves a points total of 21 having taken exactly 5 cards on the hand, the player will immediately be paid out at 2:1. A player 5-card 21 beats any dealer drawn 21, but does not beat a dealer Blackjack. The 5-card 21 rule does not apply to the dealer and therefore a dealer 5-card 21 will “push” against a player 21 with less than 5 cards. Expected player return on zero Blackjack (using perfect player strategy) is 100.0% which beats any other online casino!

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