Blackjack is a card game that can be very successfully translated into an online video game. Firstly, it is a game that you can effectively play on your own, with the role of the dealer being integrated into the video game itself. Secondly, the rules are very simple so you even if you have never played before, you can be up to speed within a few seconds.
So, what are the basic rules of blackjack? Well, the idea is to achieve a score of 21, or get as close to that score as possible, but without going over otherwise you bust. An ace is worth either one point or eleven points – the choice is yours depending on the hand you are playing. Picture cards are worth ten points, with all other cards being worth their face value, so, for example, an eight of hearts is worth eight points, a three of spades is worth three points, and so on.
The game starts with both you and the dealer being dealt two cards each. Both of your cards are visible to you and the dealer, but only one of the dealer’s cards is visible to you. This is called the upcard; the hidden card is called the ‘hole’. Based on the two cards you have been dealt, you need to make a decision about what to do next. The basic choices are:
Stand/Stay – This is when you are happy with the two cards you have and you do not want to receive any more cards. Typically, you would stay if you are fairly close to 21, in which case you might bust if you take another card. Incidentally, if you get exactly 21 with your first two cards, this is called blackjack.
Hit – This is where you take another card. You would typically do this when you are confident that you probably won’t bust if you take another card. Of course, if you get it wrong and you end up with cards that add up to more than 21, you will bust and lose your bet.
Split – Most video games will allow you to do this when your first two cards have the same value, for example, two kings, two sevens, and so on. Splitting enables you to create two separate hands from the two cards you have been dealt.
Double Down – This where you double your bet and draw one more card after which you must stand/stay.
In a real game of blackjack in a casino, the above options would be signified by hand signals made by the player. Naturally, in a video game there’s no need to do this. Instead, there would be an appropriate button for you to click to indicate what you want to do.
Card counting is a strategy that is often employed in the blackjack card game to determine whether the next hand is likely to give a probable advantage to the player or to the dealer. By counting cards you try to decrease the casino house edge by keeping a running tally of all high and low valued cards seen by the player. Card counting allows players to bet more with less risk when the count gives an advantage as well as minimize losses during an unfavorable count. Card counting also provides the ability to alter playing decisions based on the composition of remaining cards.
Contrary to popular belief, card counting does not mean memorizing the cards that have been played, but rather just allocating a value (1, 0 or -1) to each card that is displayed. Traditional card counting allocates a value of 1 to cards between two and six, 0 for cards seven to nine, and -1 for all other cards. There are a few video games available that let you practice your card counting skills.