Good day, gents! Today, we will talk about something every guy should know. And no, we’re not just talking about the usual fashion, dating, or lifestyle topic. Today is about one of the manly men games out there: Blackjack. Specifically, we will talk about upping your Blackjack game. Time to separate the men from the boys!
Blackjack: A Brief History and Rules
Before we dive into the best practices for the game, let’s look at the origins of Blackjack.
The earliest version of this game is the Spanish Veintiuna (which literally means “21”). Famously, a variation of this is depicted in one of the works of Cervantes, the writer of Don Quixote. This was around the 16th century. This work was later translated to the American version, Vingt-Un.
The popular Blackjack moniker is a bit more sketchy with its origins. In some stories, it is due to a variant of the rules wherein getting a hand of an Ace and a Jack of Spades would have a bonus to win. Another likely origin is that this name is given by prospectors to the Vingt-Un game, related to the mineral zincblende (which is also colloquially referred to as “blackjack”).
One common misconception about basic Blackjack is that it’s a game of players vs. other players. It is actually a banker/dealer vs. player type of card game. The goal is to defeat the dealer’s hand, with the player with the best hand coming on top.
The mechanics are fairly simple. Get as close to 21 points from an initial hand of two cards and as many additional cards without going over. Standard cards count their value based on their pips. Face cards (i.e. Jack, Queen, and King) are all valued at 10. Aces are valued at 1 or 11 (depending on which value will not get the hand value over 21).
The dealer takes a hand of two cards, with one face down. The players then reveal their hands and take turns to “hit” for additional cards or choose to stay. If the player busts (i.e. their hand exceeds a value of 21), they lose.
And then, after all players have finished their hand, it is the dealer’s turn to deal cards. The dealer does not stop until they have a hand of at least 17 points. Players then take bets that they have a better hand than the dealer.
Winning in Blackjack
The values are compared in the following manner:
- Dealer’s hand is closer to 21 without exceeding than the players = player loses
- Player’s hand is higher than the dealer’s without exceeding 21 = player wins
- The dealer busts (exceeds 21), but the player does not = player wins
- Player’s hand exceeds 21 = player loses (even if the dealer’s hand exceeds 21 as well)
- The player gets a “Blackjack” (a ten-value card plus an Ace) and the dealer does not = player wins (in most cases, this also means the player gets a bonus to their winnings)
- If the player’s hand is the same as the dealer’s value = no one wins (aka a “push”)
There are many variants of these basic rules and winning conditions. Most of these are based on the cultural and regional prevailing rules of where the game is played.
Tips on Raising Your Blackjack Game
Here’s the best tip I can give you about raising your Blackjack games. Learn how to “count cards” and be able to do it without anyone being able to tell. Sounds easy? Yes, but it is not. Being able to count cards and do the math of percentages in your head is a complex skill and takes time to learn.
However, there are other tips I can impart you with. These tips can help you whether you are new to the game or an average player. These are strategies the top players in the world use in their own games.
This is a very subtle, but a very effective gameplay advantage. No matter how good a player is with hiding their hand, there are minute “tells” in how they react to what they are holding. This goes for the dealer, as well. These tells can be anything from licking lips and hand gestures to pupil dilation and breathing patterns. If you are good at “reading someone,” you’re already ahead of 90% of the players out there.
It should come as no surprise that hitting (i.e. asking for additional cards to your hand) is a crucial gameplay element in Blackjack. Remember that there are 3 goals inherent with this: getting a better hand, not exceeding 21, and getting it close or exactly at a value of 21.
If you have a hand of 12 or below, that’s an easy call for a hit. If you get a 17 or higher (without an Ace), stand. It’s when you have an Ace that things get more complicated. Because an Ace is either an 11 or a 1, it opens up your options. Even if you have a 17, it is recommended to hit. Always remember–a 17 is not a guarantee you will win against the dealer’s hand.
Splitting is a more advanced tactic. If you have a pair of the same value (i.e. a pair of 2s, a pair of 9s, etc.), you can split. This allows you to hit on both cards to get a better hand. But you should never split when you have a pair of tens or faces. And don’t split with a pair of fives.
The latter is more tricky. This is because a pair of fives is a 10. Hitting could likely net a better hand. Splitting a pair of fives will more likely net a really crappy hand.
One hand that you should always split is a pair of Aces. Since an Ace is either a 1 or an 11, you either get a 2, a 12, or a 22. So splitting a pair of Aces will more than likely produce a much better hand.
Winning at Blackjack is as much a science as it is an art. It takes practice to win and win consistently. These tips can raise your Blackjacks game if you keep practicing. And, hey, if you really want to learn the more advanced techniques in the future and other ways to raise your Alpha Male game, keep an eye out on MaleMatter.com!