POKER AND BLACKJACK
Party Poker is the latest poker room to offer players the chance to play blackjack at their site, and this is a trend that looks set to continue as poker rooms expand their operations into other areas (PokerRoom already offers blackjack and other casino games). Blackjack tends to appeal to poker players because, like poker, it offers the chance to use skill when playing rather than relying on luck. A good blackjack player can lower the house edge to less than 1% - if they use the correct strategy. Most players play poker badly, but they play blackjack just horribly. That, of course, is exactly how the poker room wants you to play! But if you learn how to play well then blackjack becomes a real opportunity to add some extra funds to your poker bankroll. Combine the low house edge with the high deposit bonuses and "re-load" bonuses offered by many poker rooms and casinos and you have an opportunity to make decent money in a short space of time. With both poker and blackjack, the secret is knowing how to play well.
The dealer deals two cards face up to each player, then one card face up, one card face down to himself. The aim of the game is to try and make the highest possible total without going over 21. All face cards are worth 10 points, with all other cards being scored by their face value. Aces count as either 1 or 11, so an ace with a face card makes 21, the highest possible total - known as a "blackjack". If you were dealt a king and a five, you would have 15 (king=10 + the 5 = 15). If you were dealt a queen and a two you would have 12 (queen=10 + the 2 = 12), and so on. The player wins if they have more points than the dealer without going over 21. So if you have 19 and the dealer makes only 18, you win. If you have 18 and the dealer makes 19, you lose. If you go over 21 you lose (e.g. you have 15 and ask for another card, which turns out to be an 8, giving you 23 in total - you have now lost. The same goes for the dealer if he goes over 21).
After they've been dealt their first two cards, players have the following options: Stand : The player doesn't take any further cards to try and improve. Hit : The player aks to be dealt another card to try and make a better hand. If the new card results in the player's total reaching more than 21 the player "busts" and loses. Double : The player can double their bet after the first two cards only. After doubling the bet the player will be dealt one and only one more card. Split : The player may split equal cards into two hands, with each card then becoming the first card of a new hand. Surrender : The player may decide their starting cards are too poor to play on, and throw away the hand. If so, half the bet is lost.
After all players have played their hands, the dealer will play his hand. The dealer must always play certain house rules. Usually the rule is that the dealer must hit until he reaches a score of 17 or more, at which point he must stand. If the dealer busts all players that did not bust win, however low their hand. If the dealer reaches 17 or more all players still in win if they have more points than the dealer (i.e. if they have 18,19,20 or 21). As with poker, the rules make the game sound more complicated than it really is, and the easiest way to pick it up is to try it on the play money tables. Party doesn't let you play in "play money" mode, so if you're not ready to play for cash then download a reputable casino site's software and practice there first. CasinoOnNet(888.com) are the largest and are a good choice, but you can find reviews of other reputable casinos. at our sister site GoldenRuleOfGambling.
Blackjack Strategy For Poker Players
Good poker players know that the best strategy is a "tight aggressive" one, in which you only play good hands but you play them aggressively. The same is true for Blackjack. Reduce your likely losses on poor hands and gain as much as you can on decent hands. One of the key things that affects your decisions at blackjack is whether you have an ace in your hand or not (remember aces can count as 1 or as 11). If your hand doesn't contain an ace it is known as a "hard hand". If your hand does contain an ace it is known as a "soft hand". Next you need to consider how well your hand is likely to play - i.e. what are the chances of you making a winning hand given the cards you have been dealt and the card that has been dealt to the dealer. In this way blackjack is rather like heads-up poker, where your only goal is to defeat the other player, or in this case the dealer. It doesn't matter how high your hand is, all that matters is that your hand beats his. But whereas in poker you can try and bluff and bully your opponent, in blackjack it is all about the maths. By all means follow a hunch if you think the gods are smiling on you - but the only way to beat the dealer in the long run is to stick to the optimal strategy. Do this and you'll lower the house edge to almost nothing. If you've got a deposit or re-load bonus of 25% then the odds are now dramatically in your favour.
Optimal Strategy For Blackjack
And here it is: the optimal strategy for blackjack. Follow these rules are you'll be playing the game the way the poker room or casino does not want you to:
"HARD" HANDS (Hands that don't contain an ace).
1. If your hand adds up to less than 12, hit.
2. If your hand is exactly 12, then hit unless the dealer's card is 4, 5 or 6, in which case stand.
3 If your hand adds up to 13, 14, 15 or 16 then hit unless the dealer's card is 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6, in which case stand.
4.. If your hard hand adds up to 17 or more, stand.
"SOFT" HANDS (Hands that contain an ace that could count as either 1 or 11)
1. If your hand adds up to 17 or less, hit.
2. If your hand adds up to exactly 18, then stand unless the dealer's card is a 9 or a 10 in which case hit.
3. If your hand adds up to 19 or more, stand.
1. Always split aces and 8s, unless the dealer is showing an ace.
2. Never split 10s, 5s or 4s.
3. Split 9s unless the dealer's card is a 7, a 10 or an ace, in which case stand.
4. Split all other pairs if the dealer's card is 6 or less.
Double down when :
1. Your hand adds up to 9 and the dealer's card is a 3, 4, 5 or 6.
2. You have a hard hand that adds up to 10 or 11 and the dealer's card is lower than a ten.
3. Never double down when the dealer shows an ace.
Printer Friendly Blackjack Cheat Sheet For Party Poker & PokerRoom
To help you keep to the optimal strategy, at least until you have memorised what you should be doing, we've come up with a printer friendly blackjack cheat sheet for you to keep by the side of your computer as you are playing. If you find you enjoy playing blackjack, and more importantly you have the discipline to stick to the optimal strategy, then there are plenty of decent sites out there that will offer you some jaw-droppingly generous deposit bonus offers. For example, CasinoOnNet (www.888.com) will hand you a 100% bonus up to $200. Play tight aggressive blackjack until you've cleared the bonus, and you've just built your poker bankroll rather nicely....