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Basic Blackjack

There are many basic strategies for blackjack, depending on the casino's rules and the number of decks used. The basic strategy outlined here is based on the four-deck game as played in Las Vegas. The object of the game is to beat the dealer with a total equal to or less than 21, without going over 21 or bust.

Rules of the Game

Before any cards are dealt, the player must wager. He does this by placing his bet in the designated space in front of his table position. The dealer then deals two cards to each of the players, and two to himself (one of the dealer's cards is dealt face up and one is dealt facing down). Face cards (kings, queens and jacks) count as 10, ace counts as one or 11 (as the player chooses) and all other cards are counted at their face value.

BLACKJACK
If the player's first two cards are an ace and a 10 or face card, he wins. However, if the dealer also has a blackjack, it is a standoff, as are all ties or pushes. A winning blackjack pays the player 3 to 2.

HIT or STAND
Hit means to draw another card (which the player signifies by scraping the table with his cards or a similar hand motion). Stand means no more cards (which the player signals by placing his cards under his wager or moving his hand in a horizontal direction. If the player hits and busts (goes over 21), he immediately turns his cards over and his wager is lost.

DOUBLE DOWN
The player is allowed to double the bet on his first two cards and draw one additional card only to improve his hand.

SPLITTING PAIRS
If the first two cards a player is dealt are a pair, he may split them into two separate hands, bet the same amount on each and then play them separately. Aces receive only one additional card. After splitting, A-10 counts as 21 and not as blackjack.

INSURANCE
If the dealer's up card is an ace, the player may take insurance, a bet not exceeding one-half his original bet. If the dealer's down card is a 10 or any face card, the player wins 2 to 1. Any other card means a win for the dealer.

SURRENDER
Where permitted, a player may give up his first two cards and lose only one-half his original bet.

The dealer must draw on 16 and stand on 17. In some casinos, the dealer is required to draw on soft 17.

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