Blackjack's Dealing and Player's Options

The Deal

The players play against the house, and the dealer represents the casino. He stands and faces the players, who are seated. Usually there is room for six players at a blackjack table. If they beat the dealer, the players win, if they tie, it is a stand-off, and if they lose, the dealer collects their bets, although each player plays independently.

All bets are made prior to play. On the opening round, the bets are made while the dealer shuffles the cards, and then gives them to a player to be cut. After they are cut, the dealer squares the pack, and then "burns" the top card. Burning means to put the top card out of play, by putting it either face up on the bottom of the deck or face down to one side in a plastic discard tray.

After the top card is burned, the dealer commences to deal out the cards, giving the player he faces on his left the first card face down, and giving each player a card face down until all the players have one card. Then he gives himself a face down card and repeats the process all over again, till each player has two face down cards. The dealer's second card is turned face up for all the players to see.

It really doesn't matter whether the dealer sees the players' cards or not, since the dealer is bound by rigid rules. In a typical casino, he must draw to all hands 16 or under and stand on all hands of 17 or over, no matter what the players hold. Thus, even if you were to show the dealer that you have a 12 total, and he has 10, 6, for a 16, and could already beat you, he must, by the rules of the casino, still draw another card with the chance of busting. The dealer has no options. All the options belong to the players.

Blackjack's Casino Rules

Rules can be divided into two categories, those that are standard, and those that are optional in certain jurisdictions, or at casinos within a particular area. For example, in Las Vegas, there are two distinct sections, the Strip and Downtown, both with different rules.

Standard Rules:

Hitting and Standing Raising and Lowering of Bets Blackjack pays 3-2 Ties are pushes Pairs may be split Doubling down is permitted Insurance pays 2-1

All of the above rules, which include some player's options, are favorable to the player, with these options; the game is almost an even one between players and the house. With the next set of optional rules, we'll see how each option favors or hurts the player.

Optional Rules - Advantages and Disadvantages

Some of these are favorable to the player, while others are unfavorable. If favorable, we'll express it as a +, if unfavorable as a -.

The figures shown are the percentages whether each rule is favorable or unfavorable. Note that each option gives or takes away a small percentage, none more than 6/10 of 1%. Even though rules may give the house a small advantage, this advantage is off the top of the deck. With patience, card counting and correct betting strategies, we can easily overcome any minor starting disadvantages.

Doubling down on only 10s and 11s only = - .28 Dealer must hit soft 17 = -.20 Dealer stands on all 17s = +.20 Early surrender allowed = +.60 Conventional surrender allowed = +.01 Doubling down after splitting pairs allowed = +.12 Re-splitting of aces = +.03 No re-splitting of pairs = -.05 Two decks in play = -.40 Four decks in play = .50 Six decks in play = .60 No insurance allowed = .40