Blackjack Briefing by Robert J. Darell

EXTRACT FOR
Blackjack Briefing

(Robert J. Darell)


Playing the Game

Blackjack’s rules are simple. The player gets two cards and must decide to hit, stand, split, or double based on the point value of his hand. This decision too is simple; in fact, there is only one right choice for every hand. So, why does the average blackjack player lose 10 times more than the odds predict?1 The answer to this question, or at least part of the answer lies ahead.

1.1 GETTING READY TO PLAY

Here’s what every player needs to know before playing the game.

1.1.1 The Object of the Game

The object of blackjack is to beat the dealer. The object is not to get 21 points; nor is it to avoid busting, nor is it even to get close to 21—the object of blackjack is to beat the dealer.

[Rant: Anyone who has played the game for more than 10 minutes knows this, yet players, even experienced players, knowingly make decisions that reduce their chance of beating the dealer. For example, many players stand on 16 points versus a dealer’s 10; they refuse to hit 12 or 13 points versus a dealer’s 2 and 3; and they are horrified at the prospect of taking a card on a soft 192 versus a dealer’s 6.]

1.1.2 Points, Chips, Bets

Each card has a point value:
Aces = 1 or 11 points (the player’s choice)
Picture cards and tens = 10 points
All other cards = the card’s face value (2, 3, 4…)

The chips used for betting are usually a standard color that designates their value:
White = $1 Pink = $250
Red = $5 Purple = $500
Green = $25 Yellow = $1,000
Orange = $50 Lt. Blue = $2,000
Black = $100 Brown = $5,000






Every blackjack table has a placard, sign, or tabletop imprint that declares the table’s…
Minimum Bet - The lowest amount allowed for the player’s first bet
Maximum Bet - The highest amount allowed for the player’s first bet
blackjack Payoff - The payoff for a player’s blackjack (e.g., 3:2, 6:5)
Dealer Stop - The condition (other than by busting) that determines when the dealer must stop taking cards (e.g., “Dealer Must Hit on 16 and Stand on All 17s”)

To join the game, a player takes a seat at the table and places his first bet inside the betting circle (or square) that corresponds to the location of his stool.

Figure 1 - The Betting Circle
1.1.3 The Deal

The dealer takes the first card from the shoe and places it in the discard pile.3 Dealing the second card in the shoe to the first player on his left,4 he continues around the table giving each player and himself a card until everyone has two cards. The players’ two cards are both face up and the dealer has one card face up and one facedown.5

1.1.4 Definitions

We need to introduce a few basic terms before we start playing.

Hole card
The dealer’s facedown card.

Card Rank, Suit, Point Value
Rank is the card’s position in the deck’s hierarchy (2, 3, 4…jack, queen…). Suit is one of four card groups—hearts, clubs, spades, and diamonds.6 Point value is the number value of a card or, when added together with other cards, of a hand.

Bets—First, Double, Split, and Insurance
The first bet is the initial bet made by the player to receive cards from the dealer. The double bet is the bet, usually equal to the first bet, the player makes when he doubles or doubles down. The split bet is the bet, equal to the first bet, the player makes to split his hand into two hands. The insurance bet, up to ˝ the first bet, allows the player “to insure” his first bet against the dealer having blackjack.

Blackjack
“Blackjack” or “twenty-one” is the name of the game. “Blackjack” or “twenty-one” is also the term used when the point value of the player’s or the dealer’s first two cards is 21. This can happen only when the two-card hand contains an ace, worth 11 points, and a 10-point card such as a ten, jack, queen, or king.

Payoff
The payoff is the amount paid by the dealer to the player when the player wins. It is usually expressed as a ratio such as 1:1, which means the dealer will return the player’s $1 bet and pay him an additional $1 for every $1 bet. The payoff for blackjack (the hand) is always a premium in the traditional game, usually 3:2, that is, $3 paid for every $2 bet. For example, a $10 bet will get the player $25—his $10 first bet plus a $15 payoff.

[Rant: Many casinos now offer a 6:5 blackjack payoff for their low-minimum blackjack game, rather than the traditional 3:2 payoff. They do this solely to increase their profits. This is shortsighted as the 3:2 payoff is an integral part of the traditional game and changing it changes the game. Any change to the traditional game, especially one driven solely by profit, can backfire if it confuses players and/or discourages play.]

Even Money
Even money7 is the 1:1 payoff offered by the dealer to a player when the player has blackjack and the dealer’s face up card is an ace.8 This even money payoff of $1 for every $1 bet replaces the normal blackjack premium (usually 3:2).

[Rant: Even money is an extremely popular bet. However, it does not make sense if your goal is to beat the dealer…as explained later. Unfortunately, many players often feel that another player’s decision not to take even money is terribly wrong and don’t hesitate to make this known.]

Insurance
The dealer gives the players the opportunity to make an insurance bet when the dealer’s face up card is an ace.9 This bet, which can be any amount up to one-half of the player’s first bet, pays $2 for every $1 bet if the dealer has blackjack.10

[Rant: Insurance is not a popular bet except when a player has a large first bet on the table. For some reason, players often feel it is necessary to insure a large bet but not a small one. This inconsistency makes no sense, especially since insurance is never a good bet as explained later.]

Peek
A dealer peeks at or checks the rank of his facedown card if his face up card is an ace or a 10-point card. He does this to determine if he has blackjack with his facedown card.

Push
A push occurs when there is a tie in the point value of the player’s hand the dealer’s hand. This occurs after the dealer has finished his play. If there is a tie, the dealer “pushes back” the player’s first bet and any double or split bets made on the hand.

Bust
A player or dealer busts when the point value of his hand exceeds 21.
1 Blackjack games in Las Vegas typically earn casinos a 14% profit according to the Nevada Gaming Control Board. Some of this is undoubtedly from the odds advantage the house has over the players, but the major part is from player mistakes and poor cash management.
2 A soft 19 is a hand with an ace and an 8. Any hand that cannot bust with the addition of one card is a soft hand. This is because an ace can have two values, 1 or 11.
3 The “shoe,” so-called because it resembles a woman's high heel, is the small plastic box that holds multiple decks of cards for the dealer. The dealer “burns” or discards the first card from the shoe to prevent “steering,” a trick used by cheaters to place a particular card or a marked card at the top of the shoe. The “discard pile,” which consists of used cards, is on the dealer’s right usually inside a plastic frame.
4 Casinos teach dealers to deal cards to the chips in the betting circle rather than to the players. This prevents the dealer from accidently giving cards to a player who has forgotten to place his bet.)
5 Most blackjack tables have a small mirror in front of the dealer that allows the dealer to peek at the facedown card’s rank without lifting the card off the table and potentially exposing it the players.
6 A card’s suit is irrelevant in blackjack.
7 The term “even money” also can refer to the 1:1 payoff ratio.
8 The idea in taking even money is that the player should earn something for his blackjack. If he refuses and the dealer also has blackjack, it’s a tie and the player earns nothing.
9 The idea of insurance is to protect the player’s first bet from the dealer’s possible blackjack, which will occur with an ace showing if the dealer’s hole card is a 10-point card.
10 The player places his insurance bet on the table’s insurance line.
Since the dealer always takes the player’s first bet when the dealer has blackjack, the 2:1 payoff on up to one-half of the first bet allows the player to break even if he bets the full one-half amount.

Blackjack Briefing by Robert J. Darell

EXTRACT FOR
Blackjack Briefing

(Robert J. Darell)


Playing the Game

Blackjack’s rules are simple. The player gets two cards and must decide to hit, stand, split, or double based on the point value of his hand. This decision too is simple; in fact, there is only one right choice for every hand. So, why does the average blackjack player lose 10 times more than the odds predict?1 The answer to this question, or at least part of the answer lies ahead.

1.1 GETTING READY TO PLAY

Here’s what every player needs to know before playing the game.

1.1.1 The Object of the Game

The object of blackjack is to beat the dealer. The object is not to get 21 points; nor is it to avoid busting, nor is it even to get close to 21—the object of blackjack is to beat the dealer.

[Rant: Anyone who has played the game for more than 10 minutes knows this, yet players, even experienced players, knowingly make decisions that reduce their chance of beating the dealer. For example, many players stand on 16 points versus a dealer’s 10; they refuse to hit 12 or 13 points versus a dealer’s 2 and 3; and they are horrified at the prospect of taking a card on a soft 192 versus a dealer’s 6.]

1.1.2 Points, Chips, Bets

Each card has a point value:
Aces = 1 or 11 points (the player’s choice)
Picture cards and tens = 10 points
All other cards = the card’s face value (2, 3, 4…)

The chips used for betting are usually a standard color that designates their value:
White = $1 Pink = $250
Red = $5 Purple = $500
Green = $25 Yellow = $1,000
Orange = $50 Lt. Blue = $2,000
Black = $100 Brown = $5,000






Every blackjack table has a placard, sign, or tabletop imprint that declares the table’s…
Minimum Bet - The lowest amount allowed for the player’s first bet
Maximum Bet - The highest amount allowed for the player’s first bet
blackjack Payoff - The payoff for a player’s blackjack (e.g., 3:2, 6:5)
Dealer Stop - The condition (other than by busting) that determines when the dealer must stop taking cards (e.g., “Dealer Must Hit on 16 and Stand on All 17s”)

To join the game, a player takes a seat at the table and places his first bet inside the betting circle (or square) that corresponds to the location of his stool.

Figure 1 - The Betting Circle
1.1.3 The Deal

The dealer takes the first card from the shoe and places it in the discard pile.3 Dealing the second card in the shoe to the first player on his left,4 he continues around the table giving each player and himself a card until everyone has two cards. The players’ two cards are both face up and the dealer has one card face up and one facedown.5

1.1.4 Definitions

We need to introduce a few basic terms before we start playing.

Hole card
The dealer’s facedown card.

Card Rank, Suit, Point Value
Rank is the card’s position in the deck’s hierarchy (2, 3, 4…jack, queen…). Suit is one of four card groups—hearts, clubs, spades, and diamonds.6 Point value is the number value of a card or, when added together with other cards, of a hand.

Bets—First, Double, Split, and Insurance
The first bet is the initial bet made by the player to receive cards from the dealer. The double bet is the bet, usually equal to the first bet, the player makes when he doubles or doubles down. The split bet is the bet, equal to the first bet, the player makes to split his hand into two hands. The insurance bet, up to ˝ the first bet, allows the player “to insure” his first bet against the dealer having blackjack.

Blackjack
“Blackjack” or “twenty-one” is the name of the game. “Blackjack” or “twenty-one” is also the term used when the point value of the player’s or the dealer’s first two cards is 21. This can happen only when the two-card hand contains an ace, worth 11 points, and a 10-point card such as a ten, jack, queen, or king.

Payoff
The payoff is the amount paid by the dealer to the player when the player wins. It is usually expressed as a ratio such as 1:1, which means the dealer will return the player’s $1 bet and pay him an additional $1 for every $1 bet. The payoff for blackjack (the hand) is always a premium in the traditional game, usually 3:2, that is, $3 paid for every $2 bet. For example, a $10 bet will get the player $25—his $10 first bet plus a $15 payoff.

[Rant: Many casinos now offer a 6:5 blackjack payoff for their low-minimum blackjack game, rather than the traditional 3:2 payoff. They do this solely to increase their profits. This is shortsighted as the 3:2 payoff is an integral part of the traditional game and changing it changes the game. Any change to the traditional game, especially one driven solely by profit, can backfire if it confuses players and/or discourages play.]

Even Money
Even money7 is the 1:1 payoff offered by the dealer to a player when the player has blackjack and the dealer’s face up card is an ace.8 This even money payoff of $1 for every $1 bet replaces the normal blackjack premium (usually 3:2).

[Rant: Even money is an extremely popular bet. However, it does not make sense if your goal is to beat the dealer…as explained later. Unfortunately, many players often feel that another player’s decision not to take even money is terribly wrong and don’t hesitate to make this known.]

Insurance
The dealer gives the players the opportunity to make an insurance bet when the dealer’s face up card is an ace.9 This bet, which can be any amount up to one-half of the player’s first bet, pays $2 for every $1 bet if the dealer has blackjack.10

[Rant: Insurance is not a popular bet except when a player has a large first bet on the table. For some reason, players often feel it is necessary to insure a large bet but not a small one. This inconsistency makes no sense, especially since insurance is never a good bet as explained later.]

Peek
A dealer peeks at or checks the rank of his facedown card if his face up card is an ace or a 10-point card. He does this to determine if he has blackjack with his facedown card.

Push
A push occurs when there is a tie in the point value of the player’s hand the dealer’s hand. This occurs after the dealer has finished his play. If there is a tie, the dealer “pushes back” the player’s first bet and any double or split bets made on the hand.

Bust
A player or dealer busts when the point value of his hand exceeds 21.
1 Blackjack games in Las Vegas typically earn casinos a 14% profit according to the Nevada Gaming Control Board. Some of this is undoubtedly from the odds advantage the house has over the players, but the major part is from player mistakes and poor cash management.
2 A soft 19 is a hand with an ace and an 8. Any hand that cannot bust with the addition of one card is a soft hand. This is because an ace can have two values, 1 or 11.
3 The “shoe,” so-called because it resembles a woman's high heel, is the small plastic box that holds multiple decks of cards for the dealer. The dealer “burns” or discards the first card from the shoe to prevent “steering,” a trick used by cheaters to place a particular card or a marked card at the top of the shoe. The “discard pile,” which consists of used cards, is on the dealer’s right usually inside a plastic frame.
4 Casinos teach dealers to deal cards to the chips in the betting circle rather than to the players. This prevents the dealer from accidently giving cards to a player who has forgotten to place his bet.)
5 Most blackjack tables have a small mirror in front of the dealer that allows the dealer to peek at the facedown card’s rank without lifting the card off the table and potentially exposing it the players.
6 A card’s suit is irrelevant in blackjack.
7 The term “even money” also can refer to the 1:1 payoff ratio.
8 The idea in taking even money is that the player should earn something for his blackjack. If he refuses and the dealer also has blackjack, it’s a tie and the player earns nothing.
9 The idea of insurance is to protect the player’s first bet from the dealer’s possible blackjack, which will occur with an ace showing if the dealer’s hole card is a 10-point card.
10 The player places his insurance bet on the table’s insurance line.
Since the dealer always takes the player’s first bet when the dealer has blackjack, the 2:1 payoff on up to one-half of the first bet allows the player to break even if he bets the full one-half amount.

EXTRACT FOR
Blackjack Briefing

(Robert J. Darell)


Playing the Game

Blackjack’s rules are simple. The player gets two cards and must decide to hit, stand, split, or double based on the point value of his hand. This decision too is simple; in fact, there is only one right choice for every hand. So, why does the average blackjack player lose 10 times more than the odds predict?1 The answer to this question, or at least part of the answer lies ahead.

1.1 GETTING READY TO PLAY

Here’s what every player needs to know before playing the game.

1.1.1 The Object of the Game

The object of blackjack is to beat the dealer. The object is not to get 21 points; nor is it to avoid busting, nor is it even to get close to 21—the object of blackjack is to beat the dealer.

[Rant: Anyone who has played the game for more than 10 minutes knows this, yet players, even experienced players, knowingly make decisions that reduce their chance of beating the dealer. For example, many players stand on 16 points versus a dealer’s 10; they refuse to hit 12 or 13 points versus a dealer’s 2 and 3; and they are horrified at the prospect of taking a card on a soft 192 versus a dealer’s 6.]

1.1.2 Points, Chips, Bets

Each card has a point value:
Aces = 1 or 11 points (the player’s choice)
Picture cards and tens = 10 points
All other cards = the card’s face value (2, 3, 4…)

The chips used for betting are usually a standard color that designates their value:
White = $1 Pink = $250
Red = $5 Purple = $500
Green = $25 Yellow = $1,000
Orange = $50 Lt. Blue = $2,000
Black = $100 Brown = $5,000






Every blackjack table has a placard, sign, or tabletop imprint that declares the table’s…
Minimum Bet - The lowest amount allowed for the player’s first bet
Maximum Bet - The highest amount allowed for the player’s first bet
blackjack Payoff - The payoff for a player’s blackjack (e.g., 3:2, 6:5)
Dealer Stop - The condition (other than by busting) that determines when the dealer must stop taking cards (e.g., “Dealer Must Hit on 16 and Stand on All 17s”)

To join the game, a player takes a seat at the table and places his first bet inside the betting circle (or square) that corresponds to the location of his stool.

Figure 1 - The Betting Circle
1.1.3 The Deal

The dealer takes the first card from the shoe and places it in the discard pile.3 Dealing the second card in the shoe to the first player on his left,4 he continues around the table giving each player and himself a card until everyone has two cards. The players’ two cards are both face up and the dealer has one card face up and one facedown.5

1.1.4 Definitions

We need to introduce a few basic terms before we start playing.

Hole card
The dealer’s facedown card.

Card Rank, Suit, Point Value
Rank is the card’s position in the deck’s hierarchy (2, 3, 4…jack, queen…). Suit is one of four card groups—hearts, clubs, spades, and diamonds.6 Point value is the number value of a card or, when added together with other cards, of a hand.

Bets—First, Double, Split, and Insurance
The first bet is the initial bet made by the player to receive cards from the dealer. The double bet is the bet, usually equal to the first bet, the player makes when he doubles or doubles down. The split bet is the bet, equal to the first bet, the player makes to split his hand into two hands. The insurance bet, up to ˝ the first bet, allows the player “to insure” his first bet against the dealer having blackjack.

Blackjack
“Blackjack” or “twenty-one” is the name of the game. “Blackjack” or “twenty-one” is also the term used when the point value of the player’s or the dealer’s first two cards is 21. This can happen only when the two-card hand contains an ace, worth 11 points, and a 10-point card such as a ten, jack, queen, or king.

Payoff
The payoff is the amount paid by the dealer to the player when the player wins. It is usually expressed as a ratio such as 1:1, which means the dealer will return the player’s $1 bet and pay him an additional $1 for every $1 bet. The payoff for blackjack (the hand) is always a premium in the traditional game, usually 3:2, that is, $3 paid for every $2 bet. For example, a $10 bet will get the player $25—his $10 first bet plus a $15 payoff.

[Rant: Many casinos now offer a 6:5 blackjack payoff for their low-minimum blackjack game, rather than the traditional 3:2 payoff. They do this solely to increase their profits. This is shortsighted as the 3:2 payoff is an integral part of the traditional game and changing it changes the game. Any change to the traditional game, especially one driven solely by profit, can backfire if it confuses players and/or discourages play.]

Even Money
Even money7 is the 1:1 payoff offered by the dealer to a player when the player has blackjack and the dealer’s face up card is an ace.8 This even money payoff of $1 for every $1 bet replaces the normal blackjack premium (usually 3:2).

[Rant: Even money is an extremely popular bet. However, it does not make sense if your goal is to beat the dealer…as explained later. Unfortunately, many players often feel that another player’s decision not to take even money is terribly wrong and don’t hesitate to make this known.]

Insurance
The dealer gives the players the opportunity to make an insurance bet when the dealer’s face up card is an ace.9 This bet, which can be any amount up to one-half of the player’s first bet, pays $2 for every $1 bet if the dealer has blackjack.10

[Rant: Insurance is not a popular bet except when a player has a large first bet on the table. For some reason, players often feel it is necessary to insure a large bet but not a small one. This inconsistency makes no sense, especially since insurance is never a good bet as explained later.]

Peek
A dealer peeks at or checks the rank of his facedown card if his face up card is an ace or a 10-point card. He does this to determine if he has blackjack with his facedown card.

Push
A push occurs when there is a tie in the point value of the player’s hand the dealer’s hand. This occurs after the dealer has finished his play. If there is a tie, the dealer “pushes back” the player’s first bet and any double or split bets made on the hand.

Bust
A player or dealer busts when the point value of his hand exceeds 21.
1 Blackjack games in Las Vegas typically earn casinos a 14% profit according to the Nevada Gaming Control Board. Some of this is undoubtedly from the odds advantage the house has over the players, but the major part is from player mistakes and poor cash management.
2 A soft 19 is a hand with an ace and an 8. Any hand that cannot bust with the addition of one card is a soft hand. This is because an ace can have two values, 1 or 11.
3 The “shoe,” so-called because it resembles a woman's high heel, is the small plastic box that holds multiple decks of cards for the dealer. The dealer “burns” or discards the first card from the shoe to prevent “steering,” a trick used by cheaters to place a particular card or a marked card at the top of the shoe. The “discard pile,” which consists of used cards, is on the dealer’s right usually inside a plastic frame.
4 Casinos teach dealers to deal cards to the chips in the betting circle rather than to the players. This prevents the dealer from accidently giving cards to a player who has forgotten to place his bet.)
5 Most blackjack tables have a small mirror in front of the dealer that allows the dealer to peek at the facedown card’s rank without lifting the card off the table and potentially exposing it the players.
6 A card’s suit is irrelevant in blackjack.
7 The term “even money” also can refer to the 1:1 payoff ratio.
8 The idea in taking even money is that the player should earn something for his blackjack. If he refuses and the dealer also has blackjack, it’s a tie and the player earns nothing.
9 The idea of insurance is to protect the player’s first bet from the dealer’s possible blackjack, which will occur with an ace showing if the dealer’s hole card is a 10-point card.
10 The player places his insurance bet on the table’s insurance line.
Since the dealer always takes the player’s first bet when the dealer has blackjack, the 2:1 payoff on up to one-half of the first bet allows the player to break even if he bets the full one-half amount.