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Last Updated: November 7, 2016

Blackjack rules, part 2

Mike: Now, let's go over the Blackjack rules. The object of Blackjack is to have more points than the dealer without going over 21. One of my pet peeves is when I overhear somebody trying to explain Blackjack, and they say the object of Blackjack is to try to get as close to 21 as possible without busting. No, you only need to beat the dealer. If the dealer has 17, your 18 doesn't beat the dealer any worse than a 21, and if the dealer busts, your 12 is just as good as a 21. You've got to consider what card is the dealer showing and adjust your strategy appropriately. The higher the dealer’s card, the more aggressive you need to be, and we'll talk more about strategy in another video.

There are five choices of how to play your hand in Blackjack. The first one I’ll explain is standing -- that means you're happy with what you got, or at least it's the best of all your options in which case you wave your hand like that -- that means you're standing. For example, if I have a heart 17 or more, no matter what the dealer is showing I'm going to stand. The game where the deal that cards face down, and you're holding with your hand, the way that indicate you're standing is you tuck the cards face down under your bet. The next choice is hitting and all that Dan explains that.

Dan: When players are playing during the game, they start out with an initial set of two cards. And let me just set up, that’s a good hand.


Okay. You take a look at these hands -- you see this one is a natural winner call the Blackjack, you just pay it, in that case three to two, and be done with it.

This hand is a 15, and it's facing a dealer’s nine. Your assumption is that the dealer is probably going to end up with 19, so your 15 wouldn’t win. You need another card -- you want to draw a card. The way you do it is that you tap or scratch the table next to your bet, and the dealer will give you another card. If your hand goes over 21, in this case 22 -- it breaks -- the dealer takes your losing bet and takes the losing hand, and continues on to the next player which is a 19, and she would stay with this, and then the dealer will flip over his hand. This would push and this was already paid, and you will get another hand out and hopefully will. As more examples, maybe we’ll have a double down or split example. I'm done dealing a lot of bad hands on these handicaps, I hit, and he locked out with the 21. [unintelligible 00:02:59] hand as 20 [crosstalk]

Mike: Just like as you say stand as 20.

Dan: If you have hand like 20, it's obvious that the correct play is to stand but you always have to signal.

Mike: Let's try to get a double, a splitter, a surrender hand.

Dan: Now, here's a potential double down.

Mike: Yes. Here is a hand where the best odds are to double down, but a double down means is that you double your bet, put the chips right next to it, and notice that how I put it behind, but in Vegas they put it next to it. It shouldn’t equal exactly. You're allowed to do it for less but you never should, and then you get one and only one more card -- there's no hitting allowed afterwards.

Dan: Right, and the card is perpendicular --

Mike: The dealer will do it this way to indicate it was a double down card.

Dan: Small card -- 18.

Mike: Okay. Let's try another one. Okay, so this gives us an opportunity to explain splitting. The way splitting works is your turning one hand into two --

Dan: Players don’t touch the cards if they’re face up, they put the double down -- I mean the split bet -- right next to it. On a double down, it's right next to it. On the split, it’s a little further out and the dealer on the face of hands will take the hand and split it into two hands. What the player can also do, he can put it down like this, and the dealer would know where the pair of eights that is a split, but in a case where there's a question, the player with separate two fingers to show split the hand.

The second bet goes down, next main bet just outside the box, and the dealer splits them up in hand. Here is a card, player waves off, gives a card. Okay and on this, you can double down, put down right next to it with the same value, and you get one card. The dealer lays out his hand and the dealer bust, and in this case, doubling down and splitting got you twice the money, and that's why you do it.

Mike:Thank you. Hopefully the next hand will tilt streak a situation where the player should surrender.

Dan: Right. No. Insurance?

Mike: No. Let’s explain insurance while we have the opportunity.

Dan: Insurance is if the dealer has an ace showing, there's a risk that he has a Blackjack, so you have an opportunity to save your hand because if he had a Blackjack and you don’t, you automatically lose. So you get an option to make an insurance bet of the half of your bet. This is $10. If I can bet up to $5, and if I turnover a Blackjack, which I will in this case, while the hands lose, he might get his money back on the insurance bet for no loss.

Question 1 - [06:08]

Angela: I’m not clear. Is that a good bet? You want to do that when a dealer has an ace?

Mike: No.

Dan: The thinking is there is a high house edge on it. But the thinking is that if you have a 20, instead of losing, you at least protect your hand. If the dealer does have a Blackjack, it’s probably going to win, and if he does have a Blackjack, you'll get to keep your money from that insurance.

[crosstalk] You're the mathematician and you said the house edge is too high. That it’s always a sucker bet but it reassures players.

Angela: [unintelligible 00:06:30] [crosstalk]

Mike: Your answer was the typical dealer answer but I have to say that insurance is a lousy bet -- it carries a house edge of 8%. I recommend that you never take insurance even if you have a Blackjack yourself. It's a lousy bet. You’re in the casino to gamble anyway. Don't hedge your bet. Just play it out.

Dan: That was your advantage.

Mike: Yes. Stay it here.

Angela: Stay.

Dan: Everybody wins.

Question 2 - [07:18]

Angela: What do you think about splitting tens? He has something -- the dealer have very low card showing, and how do you feel about that?

Mike: You should never split tens and will get more into strategy in the strategy video but two hands -- two kinds of cards you never split are fives and tens.

Dan: Because you want to keep the double down and when you have a 20, you don’t want to split them into two tens because you’re destroying the double down.

Mike: Some things that dealers incorrectly say is you never split any kind of card that begins with an F meaning fours, fives or faces. No, there are times when you should split fours, and we'll deal with that later.

This hand illustrates the fifth option that you have in Blackjack. It’s called surrender. You don't see players do it very often, but the odds favor surrendering in some situations like this one. What it means is that your hand is looking so bad that you forfeit it, you give off half, you collect the other half, and the dealer just takes the cards, and that's it. You don’t want to have anything to do with this hand, it's just the way to cut your losses. This is one of the situations where the odds favor surrendering, and the way to indicate that you surrender is you go like this: make a line behind the bet. Some dealers see surrendering so seldomly that they might incorrectly interpret this as hitting. So I like to play it safe, and at least the first time I do it, I say surrender, as I'm doing it -- surrender.

Dan: The dealer takes the bet, returns half to the player, puts half in the rack and takes his hand.

Mike: If there's just one thing you should remember about surrendering, the best time to do it is with the 16 against the 10 -- that's where you get most of your value from surrendering. The hand we just have 15 against the 10 was pretty marginal but it still favored surrendering above hitting and standing.

Question 3 - [09:26]

Angela: You do a quick recap for me of what each of the hand gestures are?

Mike: Yes, so here’s a recap of the five choices. With this, you could stand or you go like this: Hit, tap the table, double, or you double the bet.

Dan: Here’s the case you can split.

Mike: Yes, here and a stand, you put the chips a little bit further away when you split, and be extra clear especially if you were splitting, say fours -- you go like that.

Dan: And the deal will generally, I guess, point to the hand, that is to take the next action, and that is good. And that goes out.

Mike: And the final choice was surrendering.

Dan: Let's see if we have any hand that will surrender.

Mike: You wouldn't want to surrender this but if you did, you go like that up and say surrender, just to be safe, and the dealer takes half your money and that's it. That’s simple. [crosstalk]

Dan: And you get to have your bet back.

Mike: That's the rules of Blackjack.