Blackjack is a game which many people know of or have played. They may have heard about it or seen it in some spy thriller where the agent, with nerves of steel and possibly more information than the bank, wins with a stunning run of luck. It is also known as Pontoon and is the most widely played casino game in the world. Much of blackjack's popularity is because of the tantalising mix of chance with elements of skill, and the publicity that has been garnered by card counting, the practice of counting cards in a deck to weigh up the probability of winning.
Where Blackjack came from
Blackjack comes from a game called "twenty-one", a game of unknown origin. The first written reference is found in a book of by Cervantes in a short story written between 1601 and 1602. This gives the game at least 400 years of history and it is also referred to in France and Spain in later periods.
When 21 was first introduced in the USA it did not succeed very well but there was a bonus round created to reward players if they had the ace of spades and a black Jack. This was one of many bonus payouts tried in order to jumpstart the game. This hand with a black Jack and an Ace was called “Blackjack” and proved more resilient than the bonus itself. The way the game is currently played, a "black jack" does not have to contain a jack or any black cards at all.
How to Play Blackjack
The object is to get a hand as close to 21 as possible without going over. A hand that goes over 21 is a bust. The players at a blackjack table do not play against each other; they play against the dealer. Each player only has to beat the dealer's hand. So you can all win at the same time.
In blackjack, the suits are not important. The numbers however are and it is this count up towards 21 which is decisive. Number cards have a value equal to their number, while all the picture cards are worth 10. Aces can be worth 11 or one, whichever is more beneficial to the person holding the hand.
After all bets have been placed, the dealer deals two cards to each player, moving around the table and dealing one card at a time. The dealer then deals himself two cards -- one face up and one face down. The players are always able to see one of the dealer's cards.
Each player in turn decides if his hand is close enough to 21 that it can beat the dealer's hand, based on the one dealer card he can see. Play moves to the next player after the current player either busts or stands, a stand is not to take new cards, a bust is you’ve taken too many cards and are now over 21.
Once all the players at the table have made their plays, it is the dealer turn to decide how to play. If the dealer's total is 17 or higher, he has to stand. If his total is 16 or less, he has to hit, meaning choose a new card. If the dealer busts, everyone at the table who didn't bust wins.
Getting a blackjack is akin to winning instantly. However, if the dealer gets a blackjack, everyone at the table loses. If both the dealer and a player get blackjack, it's a push.