Blackjack FAQ

On this page, we will answer some of the most commonly asked questions asked by new Blackjack players, both in brick and mortar casinos and online, to help give you a better understanding about the game, terminology, strategies, etc.

Why does the dealer burn the top card before dealing out the other cards?

There are a couple reasons why brick-and-mortar casinos do this. It is mainly to do with cheating. If the dealer knew what the top card was, it would be possible for them to signal to other players at the table what it is.

What is insurance?

Insurance is an option commonly available in a game of Blackjack. This option is normally invoked when the dealer’s up card is an ace. Insurance can be done by betting half of the player’s original bet and if the dealer blackjacks. The player’s insurance will be paid out in a ratio of 2:1.

Nowadays, casinos have changed their variation from ‘dealer stands on soft 17’ to ‘dealer hits on soft 17’. What are the differences?

– The ‘dealer stands on soft 17’ is a variation where the dealer stands on a soft 17 or better.

– The ‘dealer hits on soft 17’ is a variation where the dealer has to draw a card while holding a soft 17.

The latter is chosen as it slightly increases the house edge.

What is doubling down and when should you do it?

If you are looking around for a game of Blackjack, you should also consider the double down rule. The double down rule refers to the ability to double your bet and hit for another card besides the two hand cards. Some casinos allow you to double down only on the first two cards while some allow you to do it on any amount of cards, which increases your odds by a slight 0.2%.

What is splitting cards?

Some casinos allow players to split their hand into two, while some don’t. Splitting into two will slightly increase the player odds and is only allowed if players have a pair of similar cards, for example; a pair of 9s against the dealer’s 6 up card. These split hands are played independently. There is also an uncommon variation which allows you to double down the split hands thus increasing the player odds by 0.14%.

What does it mean to surrender a hand in blackjack?

This is a variation that is normally prohibited by most casinos. However, if allowed, it comes in two versions; ‘early’ and ‘late’. An ‘early’ surrender will allow you to surrender before the dealer checks his hand while a ‘late’ surrender is only possible after the dealer checks his hand. The ‘early’ option provides a cheap exit for players and makes a huge difference in your strategy.

What is a push?

A push is a tie hand when neither the dealer’s hand or player’s hand wins, which means you don’t win nor do you lose your bet.

What does it mean to bust?

A player or dealer’s hand busts when their total exceeds 21 points. If the dealer’s hand busts, player’s still active in the hand win.

Single-deck game or multi-deck games, which are better?

If you’re new to this casino game, you might not have realized that some blackjack games are played with a single deck while other games are played with two to eight decks. If you have the choice, you should opt to play the single or double-deck blackjack games, because they have a lower house edge if you’re playing a basic blackjack strategy. There are several reasons for this, and listing them all is beyond the scope of the Blackjack FAQ, just know that you will be getting more blackjacks in a single-deck game than an eight-deck shoe.

Does blackjack have the best odds out of all the casino games?

Yes! Well, in actual fact, it depends on the rules of the game, and the competency of the player, since the decisions being made affect the odds, but if you’re playing basic blackjack strategy, the house edge will be close to 0.5%. Try getting anything close to that in most other games found in a casino.

What is the correct basic blackjack strategy?

Since the rules can differ slightly depending on the blackjack game you’re playing, the basic strategy you should use will vary slightly. But once you have established the rules for the game, there is only one set strategy you should play, and the focus should be on making the correct decisions all the time and avoiding getting lazy, which could result in deviating from the basic strategy and making costly mistakes.

If you have a question you’d like answered on this Blackjack FAQ, let us know.

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