Mastering Blackjack with Ten Knuden
Mastering Blackjack with Ten Knuden

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Mastering Blackjack with Ted Knuden

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Welcome to my introductory blackjack page, which explains how to play blackjack at the casino without making too many novice mistakes. I go over some etiquette questions and basic game-play tips everyone should know, and describe how to fit into the game as you see it in a real casino. If you're only interested in playing blackjack online (not a bad idea) then a lot of this won't apply to you, but you should definitely read my ramblings about online blackjack.

To begin with, picture yourself walking into the casino and heading for a table. You can walk up to a blackjack table with cash or chips, your choice. If you're buying in with cash, simply find your seat and wait until the current round of play is over (bets are paid off). Place your money flat on the table with one hand and just ask if you can join. Don't place it in the betting area however, as the dealer may deal you a hand before you know it and your bankroll will be your bet! Get the dealers attention and ask to cash in. The dealer will take your money and display it to the overhead camera (and perhaps personally announce it to the pit boss if you're putting down a substantial amount) before pushing it into the money slot and reimbursing you with the appropriate chips.

One thing to remember while learning to play at the blackjack table, just like most table games in the casino, the management doesn't appreciate you putting anything more than one hand on the table at a time (you may be a slight of hand magician, they never know). When you make your decisions on whether or not to hit, you will be expected to make the indication with your hand in addition to your voice. When you want to hit, scratch the table, or pat it a couple of times quickly, while saying the words 'hit me'. You need to show the cameras your decision with your hands, and it's helpful to say it out loud for the dealer. If you want to stand, say 'stand' while waving your hand horizontally across your cards without touching the table.

So let's look at what happens as a round begins. The dealer will begin by ensuring everyone who wants to play has placed his or her bet. To be included in a round you must put at least the table minimum bet on the table in the area in front of you. There is usually a circle or square or some other indication on the table felt of where you should be placing your bet, but don't worry, if you're off by a bit the dealer will most likely correct you. It's also a good idea to watch the other players and how they act, that's a good thing from any perspective when learning how to play blackjack. Again, place your bets with just one hand, and if you happen to be playing face down blackjack, only handle your cards with one hand (in face up blackjack, don't handle them at all!).

So here we are, the bets are placed and you're ready to play. The dealer will start dealing cards one at a time starting with the player immediately to their left, and working around the semi-circle clockwise. The player immediately to the dealers left is known as the 'first baseman' and the player immediately to the dealers right, or the last one dealt to, is known as the 'third baseman' (regardless of how many people there are between the two).

On the first deal players will receive one card each, and then a second card one at a time. After you have two cards and the dealer has two (but only shows you one), it's decision time. Each player will be asked in turn if they wish to hit or stand (or double down or split) on what they have showing. Now, many people will try to convince you that the object of the game of blackjack is to get as close to 21 as you can without going over, but this simply isn't true. The object of the game of blackjack is to beat the dealer, nothing more, nothing less. If you have 5, you still win if the dealer busts. If you have 20, you still lose if the dealer has 21. Take this advice to heart, because it is simply the most beneficial state of mind you can adopt when learning to how to play blackjack well.

Now it's time to move on to more! Read the blackjack rules page or blackjack strategy page next to get more detail on what I've been saying here.

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