Blackjack games are among the most enjoyed casino games, not only in India but also in other parts of the world. One of the main reasons behind the increasing popularity of this game is the advent of online casinos and live dealer games. An online gaming session of blackjack is fascinating in many ways, but if you need the ultimate playing experience, play the live dealer version. Live blackjack games give players a chance to enjoy an interactive gaming atmosphere, similar to the one offered at a land-based casino but with the convenience of playing online.
Since blackjack is one of the much-loved casino games, players are expected to have the rules of the game at heart for a worthwhile playing experience. This write-up shares a comprehensive list of live blackjack rules, as well as some do’s and don’ts, which will help you take to the next level.
Live Blackjack Gameplay Rules
Live blackjack games are played using a deck of eight cards. The object of the game is to ensure the total value of your cards is close to 21. The ideal hand in the game is 21; when the total value of the first two cards dealt is 21. A value which is less than 21 qualifies you to compare your hand with the dealer’s hand. Otherwise, exceeding 21 means that your hand is a ‘bust,’ which is an automatic loss.
When it comes to card values, numbered cards take their face values, and aces count as either one or 11, depending on how the game is played. For instance, if the player is dealt with an ace and a two, the ace automatically assumes a value of 11. Face cards, the Jack, King, and Queen, count as 10. The general and accepted rule of the thumb is that you only compete against the dealer and not with the other players.
A player who initially receives an ace and a ten as their first two cards has a blackjack, which qualifies the player for a win that is 1.5 times their bet. If the total value of all your cards is closer to 21 than the dealer’s, your amount win is double that of your bet amount. On the flip side, if your card count is less than the dealers, or if your score is a ‘bust’, you lose your bet. An exact card total to the dealer’s hand means that the bet is returned.
Hard Hands and Soft Hands
As mentioned earlier, an ace in a game of blackjack counts as either one or 11. In light of this, any hand with an ace whose value is less than or equal to 21, is counted as a soft hand. Ideally, the term soft means that the hand has two possible values. A soft hand cannot exceed 21, whether you take the value of the ace to be one or 11.
A hard hand is one where there is only one possible total for the hand. A hand with an ace can also be considered as a hard hand if the higher value of the ace will make the hand go over 21. This means that a hand with an ace must be counted as a hard one.
Live blackjack players are served with a variety of playing options after cards are drawn. Understanding how these paying options, or bets, work, is key to any blackjack strategy.
Standing is a core playing option. A player who decides to stand essentially refuses to take another card from the dealer. Standing is worthwhile if you are convinced that you have a better hand than the dealer does. The perfect opportunity to stand is when you are dealt with a natural blackjack, 21.
Hitting is the opposite of standing. Hitting is the act of requesting an extra card from the dealer to improve your chances of winning. You can always hit as many times as you please, provided the dealer does not have a blackjack. Ideally, players are advised to take a hit when their hand’s total is less than 12. Otherwise, they risk busting, going over 21.
Players can opt to split if they are dealt with a pair of cards with the same value. For instance, if you have two 10s or one 10 and a face card, you can opt to split them into separate hands to potentially allow you to double your winnings. To split, you are required to place a second bet with an equal amount to your first bet.
After receiving your second card, you might opt to stand if you are satisfied with the value in your hand. Alternatively, you might decide to hit or get an additional card, if you need to improve the value in your hand. It is worth noting that, if you split a pair of aces, you only get an extra pair with no option to hit.
This playing option is only activated if the dealer does not have a blackjack. In one way or another, this betting option is advanced to players who need to improve their chances of winning. If the value of your cards is 21, you can always turn down the opportunity to double down.
Choosing to double down means that you have to double your bet, and get an additional card to your hand. Alternatively, you might also opt to hit and be dealt with an extra card to improve the value in your hand. Most online casinos might allow you to hit more than once for the additional card until you are totally satisfied with the cards in your hand.
Be aware that the rules vary considerably, and some casinos do not allow players to double down on some hands. So, it is advisable to check the regulations or seek some clarification from the dealer, before placing your wager.
Some live casinos allow players to take an insurance bet. This bet is only activated when the dealer is dealt with an ace as their first card. The object of placing this bet is to insure your wager against the possibility of the dealer getting a blackjack, which could see you lose your bet. In most cases, this bet costs the player half his or her initial wager, and this bet is not settled using your current bet.
Upon placing an insurance bet, if the dealer does not get a blackjack, the round continues, and you lose the insurance bet. If both you and the dealer manage to get a blackjack, the bet is returned. But if the dealer receives a blackjack and you don’t, the dealer wins the hand, and the insurance bet is 2:1.
In blackjack, a hand total which exceeds 21 loses, and the player is expected to forfeit all bets on that hand. Upon placing bets, players with a hand total equal to, or less than 21, compare their cards with the dealer. A player wins if their hands’ total beats the dealer’s hand without exceeding 21.
Side bets in blackjack are essentially some optional bets which can be placed in addition to the primary in-play options. This bet essentially covers events that occur during the main hand, which are not explicitly defined in standard playing rules. Besides the bet behind bet, side bets have no relationship with the outcome of the main hand. Here are some blackjack side bet options.
This bet allows you to bet on the possibility that your first two cards, or the dealer’s hand, will have perfect pairs. In live dealer games, you can only bet on either your hand or the dealers. It is worth noting that this bet is secondary; you have to place an initial blackjack bet to activate this option.
The possible options allowed include:
- Red/black pair: This bet enables the players to bet on the possibility of having different colors and different suits.
- Red/red pair: Possibility of having a pair of red cards with different suits
- Black/black pair: Two black cards, different suits
- Perfect Pair: Cards of the same color with the same numbers
The payout odds are different when betting for perfect pairs. As always, higher risks attract better returns.
This side bet comprises of the two up cards dealt to the player and the first card given to the dealer. This makes it a three-card poker hand which provides many winning options. Here some common winning combinations offered under this bet.
- Suited Trips; an identical triplet such as three Kings of Diamonds
- Three of a Kind; all three cards with the same values but of different suits
- Sequence; a numerical sequence of different suits
- Flush; three non-sequential cards with the same suit
- Straight Flush; all three cards follow a numerical sequence and are of the same suit
Like with most types of bets, the options classified under the 23+1 side bets all come with a different payout.
Blackjack Gameplay Rules: When the Dealer has an Ace Showing
Most gameplay rules are only activated depending on the dealer’s first card. For instance, if the dealer has an ace showing, most blackjack tables offer players a chance to take Insurance or Even Money with a few tables offering Early Surrender.
When the dealer has an ace, you can decide to take some insurance. This bet option serves to help the player break even, in case the dealer has a blackjack.
This option is activated when you are dealt with a blackjack, and the dealer has an ace showing. This offer is advanced as a way of guaranteeing the player of a win, though of a lesser amount, as the dealer could have a blackjack, which could see the value of both hands end up as a draw.
Though quite rare in live dealer casinos, this option allows the player to reduce their risk of losing, when the dealer’s card is an ace. An early surrender essentially means that the player forfeits one-half of their bet, instead of losing their entire bet amount.
Another unusual rule offered to blackjack players, is the surrender anytime. Irrespective of the number of hits which you have taken, you can always surrender, provided the casino gives you this option.
This rule or option is only activated after the dealer checks for blackjack, and it is your time to play. The rule of the thumb as stated here, is that you can take late surrenders before taking a hit. Late surrenders are quite common in most casinos, unlike the other surrender options.
Live Blackjack Playing Action
The gaming action in live dealer games is often quite fast. If you are new to the game, things can turn out to be quite confusing, especially if you are contemplating whether to invoke specific gaming rules or not. In most casinos, the dealer runs their hand on the table and asks whether someone wants to invoke any pre-game rules.
Dealers assume that players understand what is happening. However, if you are unsure about anything, you can always reach out to them, using the live chat feature. Most dealers will gladly expound more on choices available to players if they notice that some people are new to the game.
Once you are done with all gaming options, the dealer gladly turns to the hole card. This is where players get a taste of the guts of the game, as they are presented with the chance to take additional cards, split cards, double down, or surrender.
End of Hands and Payouts
After players play their hands, whether they doubled, split, still have the cards in their hand or busted, they have to wait for the dealer to play. The dealer will turn the hidden card, and they might consider taking hits until their total card value reaches 17 or higher.
If the dealer goes over 21, busts, every remaining hand automatically wins. And if the dealer is yet to bust, then each hand is compared to the dealer’s hand. Whoever has a higher hand, the dealer or the player wins the round. There is also a possibility of having a tie, which sees the bet amount returned to the player.