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    Blackjack Beginners Guide

    Online Blackjack is now legal in South Africa and players can enjoy the famous game at various online casino and sports betting sites. In this beginners guide for Blackjack, we explain how to play Blackjack, as well as share some of our Top Tips and Strategies for Blackjack. This guide provides a detailed platform to easily understand the game of Blackjack and to gain some insight into how the game works as well as how to win.

    What is Blackjack?

    After reading our Beginners Guide on how to play Blackjack, you will be left feeling excited to start using some of our startegies and top tips. Blackjack is one of the most popular Casino games that can be played all around the world either online or in a traditional brick and mortar casino.

    The gameplay is easy to understand, full of excitement and is played against the house which is the dealer of cards at the casino. Blackjack has been proven to be beatable using mathematics through strategy and detailed analyses of the cards that have been played which is one of the primary reasons why Blackjack is so attractive to such a vast base of gamblers/punters around the world.

    Wilbert Cantey, Roger Baldwin, James McDermott & Herbert Maisel were the pioneers that used mathematics and took Blackjack to the ultimate level.  They even published a paper in the American Statistical Association called the ‘Optimum Strategy in Blackjack’ which became the guide for all future attempts to beat the game of Blackjack.

    Unless you can count cards like a champion, we should probably keep your expectations in check. This beginners guide will help you to understand all there is to know about Blackjack, including the terminology and pro tips, by following some of our simple rules that will put you in the best position to win.

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    The History of Blackjack (“twenty-one” or “Vingt-et-un”)

    France is the origin of Blackjack where it became a very popular game in French casinos in the 18th century. Blackjack was originally known as “twenty-one” or “Vingt-et-un”.  The name Blackjack was derived when a blackjack player received the Ace of Spades in combination with a Black Jack from either the jack of clubs or the jack of spades as this combination granted a ten-to-one pay-out bonus, which at the time, was the maximum bonus granted. Even though 21 points can be achieved with any two cards consisting of any 10 point card and any Ace, the name “Blackjack” stuck due to the max bonus this combination returned.

    Where to play Blackjack legally?

    Legal betting on blackjack is offered at several sports betting and casino sites in South Africa. Only sites licensed in one of the respective provinces are allowed to offer legal online blackjack. Most of the available Blackjack games are similar to what you’d find in a real casino. There are also several other blackjack games that range from high rollers only to games with some great bonuses and side bets. You can legally enjoy Blackjack at the following betting sites;

    • Hollywoodbets
    • Sportingbet
    • Betway

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    How to play blackjack?

    Blackjack is played with a standard deck of 52 cards and generally consists of either four, six or eight decks. The point value is determined by the card. All cards ranging from two to ten are worth their face value. The jacks, queens, and kings are valued at ten points each, and the aces are used as either a one or as an eleven.

    The purpose of blackjack is to draw cards worth a total of up to 21 points without going over the 21 point tally and/or beating the dealer’s hand. The cards are dealt from the dealer whom is also the competitor, and multiple players can play against the dealer in the same game. This is unlike most other casino games where players play against other players.

    The ultimate goal is to draw a total points tally of 21 with two-cards. This is currently known as “blackjack” and has a pay-out of 3:2 unless the dealer also has a two card points tally of 21. When the latter occurs, the player receives the original bet amount back. If the player has a two card 21 points tally and the dealer has 21 points but with more than two cards, the player will win the full 3:2 pay-out.

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    How does Blackjack work?

    With each round, each of the players first need to place their bet in their allocated square and only once all the bets are placed by all the players will the dealer deal their two cards, face down from the card decks. Players may pick up their cards with one hand only. In games where they make use of an automatic shuffler, the cards are placed facing up and the players are not allowed to touch their cards.

    The dealer’s two cards are always placed one faced up and one faced down so that the players cannot see the dealer’s full hand. Once all the cards are dealt and the dealer has received their two cards, one face up and one face down, the players are allowed to decide on how they want to play their hand. A player can either decide to receive an additional card or decide to keep the two cards that has been dealt if they feel they have a strong probability of beating the dealer with those cards.

    Once all the players have decided on their actions, the dealer must draw more cards if their total points tally is 16 or less. If the dealer has 17 points or more then the dealer has to “stay” which means no additional cards are drawn for the dealer. Once complete, the dealer reveals their hand and each player’s hand is considered against the dealers so that pay-outs can be awarded accordingly. Only after the pay-outs are awarded can a new round begin.

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    In summary, the objective of the game is to draw cards that totals a points tally of 21 or closest without going over the 21 point total, and your hand is measured against the dealer. Once you go over the 21 point tally, you lose and are out of the game until the next round starts. If the dealer is closest to the 21 points tally without going over the threshold, you also lose. The opposite applies for winning – if your hand is closest to the 21 point tally compared to the dealer’s hand without going over the 21 point threshold, then you win.

    Blackjack terminology and player actions explained?

    The following actions can all be completed by any player of the game once the first two cards have been dealt by the dealer to all players including the dealer.

    • Hit – request an additional card from the dealer by waving your hands towards yourself or by tapping the table.
    • Stay – This action is taken when the player does not want any additional cards from the dealer. This is also known as ‘stick’ or ‘stand’. This action is signalled by waving their hand from left to right or from right to left across your cards.
    • Double down – This action is taken when someone wants to double their initial bet amount with an increase of 100%. The player can place the additional wager by adding chips next to the original bet.
    • Split – This occurs when two cards are a pair which may be split into two separate hands. A Bet is then placed on the second hand with an equal bet amount of the first hand. This second bet takes place outside the original betting box and is indicated by the player to the dealer, by spreading two fingers into a “V” shape. The dealer will then proceed to splitting the two cards into two hands and deal an additional card to each hand. The player may then play each hand separately.
    • Surrender – This is not available at all casino so first enquire about the house rules. Surrendering is an option whereby the player can forfeit half of the bet and keep the other half after the first cards are dealt.

    How to win at Blackjack

    Now that we have the basic understanding and concepts of Blackjack out the way, we can now look at the basic strategies. The key is to play a basic strategy and not over complicate it.

    Your first step is to hit the blackjack tables and observe other players and strategies.

    This is without a doubt one of the most important lessons to learn about Blackjack. Learn when to hit and when to stay. It needs to be your second nature so that you can make the correct decisions and play at the correct time with the correct cards. This will entail you knowing exactly when to hit, when to stay, when to split and when to double down on your hand.

    Here are some basic strategies that you can follow:

    • Hit: When your cards total points tally is between 12 and 16 and the dealer has a seven and an ace
    • Stand: When your cards total points tally is between 12 and 16 and the dealer has between two to six
    • Split: You should always split your eights and your aces
    • Double: You should always double when you have 11 and the dealer has between two to ten
    • Hit or Double: When your hand is ace and a six

    Our BlackJack Top Tips for beginners

    This is a basic tip that does not only pertain to physical games of blackjack but also to some online casino blackjack games. It is a tactic that is vastly underrated and once you start paying attention to this, it will give you a small edge in terms of time management.

    Our Blackjack Top Tip for beginners: Never sit in the first chair.

    Never sit in the first chair next to the dealer! Most rookies make this mistake. The reason that it is more advantageous to sit further away from the dealer is a simple yet effective strategy for time management. The further you sit, the longer time you have to review your hand and the dealers face-up card as the dealer will always run through from the closest chair to the furthest chair, in that order. Dealers often rush games to give players less time to evaluate and think about their strategies.

    The most valuable hands in the Blackjack game by probability is 21 and the second best hand is 20 however the third best hand is not 19.

    Our Second Blackjack Top Tip: Statistically the third best hand in blackjack is 11

    Statistically the third best hand in blackjack is 11 and this is because you are only 10 points away from 21 points which can be achieved with one hit. It could be Tens, Jacks, Queens or Kings which all have a value of ten. Statistically, this means that there are 4 times as many cards with a value of ten than any other card in the deck. This is why we highlighted above that you should always double when you have 11 and the dealer has between two to ten.

    Our Third Top Tip for beginners on Blackjack is to start small and in moderation.

    It is a very effective strategy to start betting very small amounts in order to gain the experience which in turn, will assist you to make better decisions on the spot.  Observe the dealer and pay attention to the cards being dealt. You can get a feeling of how many Aces, Tens, Jacks, Queens and Kings have been dealt and this can encourage you to gauge the probability of the next cards to be dealt. If in the first couple of rounds ten of the 10 point cards have been used, it is less likely to occur again.

    This leads us into our Final Top Tip which involves even more observing of the dealt cards.

    Our Final Top Tip for beginners on Blackjack is to monitor the number 5 cards

    This strategy involves the number 5 cards. This is statistically the worst low level card that you can get. When a number 5 card is removed or used in the game it increases you chances of winning by 0.67%, hence card counting and specifically the number 5 cards, make a big difference. Step away when you observe too many 5’s being dealt and start betting once those have been removed from the deck.

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    The Gamblers Verdict and Online Favourites

    Blackjack is a fun game that should be enjoyed by betting responsibly. Online blackjack is particularly great from a beginner’s viewpoint as the atmosphere is more relaxed and can be played in the comfort of your own home. You do not have the pressure of the physical game, but the overall experience is the same, and in most cases, there is a live dealer at the table on your screen.

    It is time that you put some of our blackjack strategies and Top Tips to the test at some of our Gamblers’ favourite online casinos here.  For the best FREE sign-up deposit bonuses, check out our post here where showcase the Top 5 Deposit Bonuses in South Africa. If you enjoyed this Guide, Check out a list of some of our other Beginners guides and content where we showcase guides for Slots, Lucky Numbers and Betting Odds.

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