The object of the game is to have a hand closer in a value to 21 than the banker, but not over 21. The hands of the other players have no effect on your bet, other than you take them into account if you are using a card counting strategy.

The values of the cards in Blackjack are as follows –  2-10 face value, picture card 10, ace 1 or 11.

Bets are placed in a circle or square on the table after which each player and the banker are dealt 2 cards, in a shoe game the players cards and the bankers first card are dealt face up. The shoe can contain anywhere from 1 to 6 decks of cards (without jokers) again check before you play the number of cards can affect the odds, plastic marker is inserted about two-thirds of the way from the start when this point is reached the cards are reshuffled. You are not allowed to touch you cards in a shoe game and in a hand held game you may only use one hand (the cards having been dealt face down) and you must keep the cards over the table. After these initial cards have been dealt each player starting with the one to the dealers left in turn plays his hand, the players options are:-

1.    Stand – if the player does not want to to take another card he can stand play then moves on to the next player.
2.    Hit – the player can request one or more further cards to increase his total score if exceeds 21 however he is ‘bust’ and looses.
3.    Double – the rules on doubling vary around the world but some form is usually allowed, to do this you buy a card by placing another bet next to his original of equal value to it, after which you will be dealt another card. Assuming the value of the cards is 21 or less play continues with the other players until a comparison is made with the dealers hand. In British casinos you are usually only allowed to double if your two first cards have a total value of 9, 10 or 11 and not if one of them is an ace, this is partly to prevent a player from making a bad decision, but as stated above rules on doubling do vary around the world in some countries the value of the second bet may be any value up to the original bet.
4.    Splitting – if the first two cards are a pair then the player is allowed to split them into two separate hands and ad another stake equal to the original. Each new hand then receives a second card from the dealer and is then played separately, the players options are as before stand, hit, double or split. Once again there are variations around the world in he USA for example you are usually only allowed to split four times and you may only receive one card on an ace, in Britain you usually may not split fours, fives or tens.

The Dealers actions – the dealer follows a simple set of rules if the value of his hand is sixteen or less he continues to take cards until sixteen is exceeded, if in so doing he exceeds twenty-one he is bust.

Comparison of Hands – after all hands have been played the dealers and each players final hands are compared and bets are paid or collected as shown below:-

•    Bust Hands – all players whose hands exceed 21 loose even if the dealer bust.
•    Blackjacks – if any player has a Blackjack or Natural (21 total with two cards, ace plus picture or ten) then he is paid at odds of three to two unless the dealer also has a Blackjack in which case the bet is a stand-off and only the original stake is returned.
 •    Other Totals – if he dealer went bust then all players with a final total of 21 or less are paid at evens, otherwise the players total is compared with the dealers and if the player has the higher score he wins, if the scores are equal then it is again a stand-off and the players bet is returned.

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