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Blackjack, It's History And Game Rules

Feb 1, 2008
Card game history comes out of the mist of antiquity and each game seems to have more than one precursor in history. Blackjack continues this tradition of many possible forbears from history. The game as we know it today is similar to the French card game called Vingt En Un, which means 21 in French. The rules for modern Blackjack are very different than its French precursor. Italy also donated the idea of bust to the game with their game called Seven and Half. If a hand value exceeded seven and a half it was considered a bust or dead. This is true when playing Blackjack if the hand value exceeds 21.

The name of Blackjack comes from the bonus that was paid if the player's hand was made up of a Black jack and the Ace of Spades. This had to be the first two cards dealt to the player. This special bonus was paid instead of the regular payoff for any Blackjack, which are any ten-value card and any ace.

Blackjack has a very interesting history in the last 60 years as the academic study of the game has proven to be very helpful to players. Basically these studies have shown that when the undealt cards are high in ten value cards and low in fives, the deck favors the player's hand to win. The reason is the dealer must hit any hand with a value under 17 and an ace and a six. The requirement that the dealer mush take another card at this point in the hand is to the player's advantage as they are likely to bust the hand.

Roger Baldwin and his assocaiates did the first study in 1953. The next study and probably far better known, was done by Edward O Thorpe and was published in a book called "Beat The Dealer". This book was so popular that it made the Best Sellers list in the New York Times in 1963. The book was easily purchased and very hard to put into play by most players. It did however bring Blackjack to a much higher level of popularity in casinos. The casinos loved the game for the amount of money it brought into the casino's coffers.

In the 1990s a group of MIT students made a severe hit on the casinos and won millions of dollars until a private detective firm found them out. The name of the firm was Griffin Investigation. This group has put a severe crunch on all card counters as they proved without a doubt that the game could be beaten and beaten very badly by players who knew how to count cards. One of the ways that online casinos beat this idea is by continuously shuffling the deck. The casinos have tried this, but it slows down the game and lowers the number of hands dealt in an hour. Casinos win money by playing many hands in an hour.

Blackjack Smart Play

The most basic rule in Blackjack that winning players use is, "Let the dealer Break. Do not hit a breaking hand when a dealer has a break card showing. For example, the dealer shows a three and you have 12; what should you do? The solid player will bet on the dealer to break rather than take the chance and break their hand. This is what letting the dealer break means. When you get a really unlucky dealer, let them hit any hand rather than break your hand. When the house gets a series of breakable hands, the advantage goes to the player.

Another rule is play for double downs or splits any time the dealer has a break card showing. The player has a statistical advantage in these situations.

The house offers insurance because it makes them money. They win if you take it and they do not have a Blackjack and they break even if they do. If you are inclined to take insurance, never do it when you have a Blackjack in your hand. You already have insurance, and the odds are not with you that the dealer will have one too.

Play low splits all the time, as the dealer can be beaten or tied unless they have a Blackjack. . If you win one of the two splits, you break even. Suggestions for not splitting threes or such are not valid in this author's opinion. The dealers show card should dictate whether it is wise to split or not. Playing two or three hands at a time can be advantages as you give yourself more chances to catch solid hands and when the dealer breaks, you automatically win all three hands.

You can also take chances on hits when you know you have a sure winner on the first hand. Break even to win is the strategy of playing more than one hand.

Another rule that seems to have some merit is to play third base if at all possible at a table. By doing this, you can control the third base hits and the dealers next card. Quit a table when there is an idiot playing third base. They will cost you a great deal of money by consistently taking the dealers break card. Do not downgrade the dumb player; just leave the table.


The only casino game that beats Blackjack in popularity is the slots. The reason is obvious; the slots take no skill to play and are all about being lucky. Playing Blackjack correctly does take some skill and understanding of the game. The game is easily learned and there are many very good books on the playing of Blackjack. The Internet is filled with very good articles on Blackjack so a player does not have to look far to find help.

The house odds on Blackjack played correctly are some of the lowest offered by any game in the casino. The other two house games with low odds for the house are dice and baccarat.
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