The card game that is now widely known as Blackjack or 21 has its origins in the early casinos in France when it was called "vingt-et-un"
Interestingly enough, the game was not very well received in the United States when it was first introduced there. It wasn’t until American casinos decided to offer larger payouts (typically 10 to 1) for players who came up with an ace of spades and a black (either spades or clubs) jack that the game really started to take off. It was from this practice that the name "Blackjack" was derived and today, Blackjack is the one of the most widely played card games all over the world, enjoyed in world gambling capitals such as Las Vegas, Macau, and Monte Carlo.
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One of the most important things to remember when playing Blackjack is that you are really competing against the dealer and not the other Blackjack players. The main purpose of the game is to get as close to 21 as possible with the cards that you are dealt.
The cards from 2 to 10 are all taken at face value, meaning that the number on the card is its actual value. The Jack, Queen, King–which are all face cards–have a value of 10. The Ace card on the other hand has a variable value. It can either be valued at 11 or–if valuing it at 11 would cause the hand to exceed 21–it can be valued at 1. A value that exceeds 21 is referred to as a bust.
Each player is initially dealt 2 cards to start with. The dealer also gets 2 cards, but only 1 of them will be visible. The player can either get a "hit" of another 2 cards in order to get to 21, or he or she can "stay" with the current cards if it is close enough to 21.
Winning at Blackjack
As we said earlier, the goal of the game is to get as close to 21 as possible without going over. Remember that you are competing against the dealer, so your cards have to be higher than the dealer’s without going over 21. The player that is closer to 21, reaches 21, AND does not bust wins the Blackjack game.
The key to winning the game is knowing when you should hit or stand. In most casino Blackjack tables, there is a rule that says that dealers must "hit" until they reach or 17 or higher. This gives players a bit of an advantage since they are not under any obligations to follow this rule.
Splitting. If the player receives 2 cards of the same value, a 6 of spades and a 6 of diamonds for example, he or she has the option to "split" theses cards into 2 hands. The player can then start with 2 hands of 1 card each, and get "hits" on each of the hands.
Double Down is when you double your bet after you are dealt your cards, get a "hit" of one more card, and then stand with that hand.