Blackjack or “Vingt-et-un”

This game is also known as “Twenty One” and, in Europe, as “Vingt-et-un”. The house dealer asks for bets and then gives out one card face up to each player plus one for himself. Then he deals a second card face up to the players and himself. (Note that the dealing of cards face up or down varies from casino to casino) The object of the game is to reach 21 or come as close as possible without going over. The players can elect to take extra cards to get closer to 21.

An Ace in this game is worth either 1 or 11 (at the players choice); face cards (Jacks, Queens, and Kings) are worth 10; and the other cards are worth their face value. Thus, a combination of an Ace and a 10 equals 21 (this is called a “natural” blackjack and automatically wins, unless the dealer also has a natural blackjack in which case the player neither wins nor loses his bet).

If a player`s first two cards equal less than 21, he may continue to have the dealer give him extra cards (“hits”) one at a time until he elects to stand or goes over 21 (in which case he automatically loses). After all players have taken their extra cards, the dealer must give himself an extra card if his first two cards total 16 or less and he must stand if his total is 17 or more.

Any player who has a natural blackjack wins at the rate of 3 to 2 (unless the dealer also has a natural blackjack, in which case there is a tie). Any player whose card total is higher than the dealer`s wins at even odds. Any player who ties the dealer`s card total is in a tie and neither wins nor loses his bet. All hands that are less than the dealer`s total or that go over 21 lose.

There are several variations that may occur during a hand. A Split Pair occurs when a player`s first two cards are of the same value ( a pair of 9`s for example) or are both worth 10 ( a 10 and a Queen, or a Jack and a King). The player in this case can split the cards and play them as if they are two hands. Play proceeds as described above and the player can bet on both hands. If the player gets another pair, he can split up those cards for new hands, up to a maximum of 5 splits. The use of Split Pairs varies from casino to casino.

There are some limitations on Split Pairs. If Aces are split, the player receives only one card on each Ace. Also, if a player has an Ace and a 10 or picture card with a split pair, he does not have a “natural” blackjack` instead, the cards are worth 21 and if he wins, the payoff is at even money. These variations in Split Pairs differ from casino to casino.

A second variation is Double Down. When a player`s first two cards equal 9, 10, or 11, he can double his bet. In this case, he receives only one more card (the exception being that if his first total is 9 and he draws a 2, he can be given one more card).

A player may also place an Insurance bet if the dealer drew an Ace on his first card. Before anyone receives a second card, a player may bet up to half his original bet that the deal will get a natural blackjack with his second card. If the dealer does indeed get a natural blackjack, the player is paid off at 2 to 1; if the dealer does not make a natural blackjack, the player loses his Insurance bet.

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