The reputation of this game surpasses the gambling industry, making it a part of our popular culture. А dynamic, fast-paced card game with an army of fans, blackjack is considered a standard game, unavoidable at both, land-based and virtual casinos. With the dealer and the player on each side of the table, both trying to reach the magical number of 21, blackjack offers unusual excitement on each hand. However, no one will be particularly disturbed if they lose an individual bet, since the new 2-card hand will be delivered in no time.

It is important to mention that blackjack is very generous to the players, offering an average payout of 99% and more. Aside from the main bets, casinos sometimes allow the players to make side bets that offer higher payout ratios, but lower overall payout percentage. The game itself has branched out in several directions, but knowing the basic rules will enable you to adapt to any variation very quickly.

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General Rules

As mentioned above, the goal of this game is to have a total value of cards as close to 21 as possible, without exceeding that number. For example, if your cards total 20 then your winning odds are very high, but if they total 22 you will lose. The game is a competition between the dealer and the player(s), both trying to reach the total value of 21 or closer to 21 than the opposite side. Blackjack is usually played with several decks of 52 cards, shuffled together and the values of the cards are: cards from 2 to 10 are worth their face values, all picture cards are worth 10 and aces are worth either 11 or 1.

For starters, the dealer will deal a two-card hand to both, himself and the player. While the player’s cards are positioned face-up, one card on the dealer’s side is positioned face-down and the dealer may peek to check if he has a blackjack. The maximum value of the cards in the first hand is 21 (one Ace and one picture card). Depending on the value of the hand, the player needs to decide whether he wants another card (Hit) or he is satisfied with the current cards (Stand). If the total value of the cards goes over 21, the player is bust. Players are free to choose whether to hit or stand, but the dealer is tied with strict casino rules. Dealers will always hit if he holds the cards with total value of 16 or less and always stand if his cards value 18 or more. The value of 17 is a breaking point at which some dealers stand and some hit if they have “soft 17”, meaning he has an ace and one or more other cards totalling six.

The possible outcomes of each game are: Player wins, Player loses or it is a tie. Those who exceed 21 have lost the game, no matter which cards hold the other side. If the player wins he will receive a prize the size of his bet.

Aside from the two main moves (hit and stand), the players are commonly allowed to double down, split and surrender.

Double down: The player can increase the initial bet up to 100%, but he has to stand after receiving exactly one card. Split: If the player is dealt two cards of the same value, he can split them into two separate hands and receive one card on each of them. Surrender: After the first hand is dealt, the player can choose to surrender and save the half of his bet.

Side Bets

Some casinos allow the players to place additional bets separately from their main bets. Side bets are optional and the players are not required to use them, while the main bets are mandatory if they want to keep their place at the table. The most common side bet, available in almost all blackjack games, is Insurance. It is offered to the players if the dealer’s up card is an ace. With the Insurance bet, the player can make “insurance” in case the dealer’s down card is valued as 10 (total value of 21). There is an extensive list of other side bets on various outcomes, so make sure to read the rules of the game before placing any side bet.

Payouts

The payouts may vary depending on the casino, but the following payouts are offered at the vast majority of the casinos:

  • Standard win pays 1:1
  • Blackjack win pays 3:2
  • Insurance win pays 2:1

Variations of Blackjack

The beginnings of blackjack date back to the 16th or 17th century, so it is not a surprise that the game have developed in several variations. We will briefly mention only the most popular types.

European Blackjack:

  • Played with 2 to 6 decks of cards
  • Players can double down only on hands worth 9, 10 or 11 points
  • The dealer stands on all 17s
  • Players can split once, but only identical cards
  • Surrender is not allowed

Vegas Strip Blackjack:

  • 4 decks of cards
  • Split is allowed at 10-valued cards
  • The dealer stands on all 17s
  • Double down available on first two cards
  • Double down available after splits
  • Surrender is not allowed

Pontoon

  • Played with 2 to 8 decks of cards
  • The best possible hand is called “pontoon” (an ace and a 10-valued card)
  • The second-best hand is 5-card trick (player has a 5-card hand without exceeding the value of 21)
  • The player loses all ties

Playing Blackjack on the Move

Blackjack has come to the South African mobile casinos and it is there to stay. The popularity of this game among our countrymen is well-known to the casino owners and any mobile gaming house that cares about its future will provide at least a couple of blackjack games. Modern software enables you to play blackjack easily with all betting options available under your fingertips. The majority of blackjack games at mobile casinos are virtual games, but they are not very different from those you can play in the land-based casinos. Of course, you won’t be able to see the dealer, but you can listen to some relaxing music or even hear the dealer’s voice calling out the outcomes. However, the future of mobile blackjack probably lies in live games, therefore we expect to see more and more South African mobile casinos offering live dealer blackjack.