Blackjack was a game that originated in 18th Century France. It was originally called Vingt-et-Un which literally translates to the number ‘21’. Even though the game was established more than 100 years ago, it was only until 1963 when the game exploded into the limelight thanks to Edward O. Thorp’s book, “Beat the Dealer”, which highlights his ‘basic strategy’ of beating the game.

Since then, a lot of players want to play this game not only for entertainment purposes, but to also make a living as well. This has become a mainstay in most casinos, particularly in the Newtown Casino in Malaysia.

If you are interested to know how this game is played, then you’ve come to the right place. Today, I am going to teach how to play 21 Blackjack (or simply just Blackjack).

Very Simple Game

Despite only being well-known after Thorp released his book, Blackjack is actually quite easy to play. The game uses a number of card decks depending on the game. These cards would usually be shuffled by a human dealer, but most of the casinos nowadays employ card shuffling machines in an attempt to foil card counters.

If the game is played with only a deck or two of cards, the dealer will shuffle and hold the cards and will deal them accordingly to the players. However, in a multi-deck setup, the cards are usually given out of a tray-like box which is commonly known as the shoe. In some casinos, some shoes are made with a built-in shuffler already to make things automatic.

In a standard handheld game, the cards are usually dealt face down and the players are given the chance to pick up the cards. In a standard shoe game, the cards are usually dealt face up, but the rule is that the players are not allowed to touch them.


Basic Play

Whether you play in handheld games or one that uses a shoe, the objective is basically the same. What is that objective, you ask? Well, you actually have to beat the dealer and you do that by getting a hand that is as close as possible to the number 21.

If you possess cards with a total value that is over the dealer’s current hand (which doesn’t exceed the number 21), then you win. If your hand goes over 21, then you will lose your bet (which is also known as a bust). Should the dealer bust, you automatically win the game.

As for the card values, the game actually uses its own and does not copy the game of Poker. This means that the numerical value of cards 2-10 will be counted at their face value- regardless of whether they have the same suit or not.

Hand Signals

If you are playing a ‘shoe’ game, you are allowed to see the cards but you are unable to touch them. Because of that, you are required to use hand gestures to make your decisions known.

This is actually quite helpful since it not only keeps the game moving; it also helps avoid any misunderstandings due to verbal communication. That being said, here are some of the most common signals in a game of blackjack:

  • Hit- If you wish to signal to the dealer that you want to ‘hit’, you simply have to do a beckoning motion with your hand
  • Stand- If you want to hold your cards (which means that you ‘stand’), you simply have to hover over your cards and wave your hand over it
  • Double Down- If you want to double down, you simply have to place an additional bet right next to the original bet that you’ve made.