Blackjack may seem totally American, but it actually comes from ‘La Veintiuna’ (Twenty-one), a game with Spanish origins. The first written reference to this game can be found in the picaresque short story by Miguel de Cervantes entitled Rinconete y Cortadillo. Way back in 1600, the text described the objective of the game: to get twenty-one points without going over. We can therefore deduce that the game was already being played in Castile at the beginning of the 17th century.
The dealer shuffles the cards and, after one of the players cuts them, he puts them in the sabot or shoe, from which he will take them one at a time. Once the players have placed their bets in the rectangular space on the table reserved for the chips, the dealer will deal one card to each player face up, starting to his left and finishing with himself.
Then the dealer deals one more card face up to each player, except for himself, which he deals face down. Depending on the number of points, each player can decide if they want more cards or want to stand. If after asking for more cards, or ‘hits’, any player has gone over 21 points, they lose, and the dealer immediately removes their chips and cards from the table.
When the players have all finished, the dealer then follows these rules: he must keep taking cards until he has at least 17 points and must stop when they total this number of points. Aces will count as 11 if this makes the dealer’s overall score 17 or higher. If it would make him go over 21, then an ace counts as 1 point.
The objective of this game is to get 21 points or as close to this score as possible without going over. And, if possible, with only two cards. However, we will see later that players can end up asking for many more.
A large dealing shoe consisting of six French decks is used to play blackjack, three of one colour and three of another, with 52 cards each.
The value of each card is:
Face cards: 10 points.
Aces: 1 or 11 points, depending on which works better for each player.
The points for the rest of the cards are their numerical value. .
The player or players will win who have more points than the dealer—but without ever going over 21—paying out one to one, meaning the same amount that is bet. If the player gets a blackjack: 21 points with the first two cards.
(Ace + face card or 10), will pay 3 to 2 of the amount bet. Blackjack always beats a 21 obtained with more than two cards.
If a player has a draw with the dealer, the round will be null, and the player will have the choice to change their bet or remove the amount of the initial ante.
When the dealer’s first card is an ace, players can place this second bet against a possible blackjack. Before dealing the third card to the first player asking for a hit, the dealer will propose insurance.
The player will put a maximum amount equal to half of the amount bet on the insurance line in front of them. If the dealer does get a blackjack, he will collect the losing bets and will pay out insurance wagers 2 to 1. If he does not get one, he will pay out the insurances and will continue the game by the aforesaid rules.
If a player’s first two cards have the same value, or pair, they may decide to play each of them as separate hands, or split them, wagering the same as the original bet. If the player has two aces, he or she can only ask for one more card. If it is a 10 or a face card, making 21 will not be considered a blackjack.
When players have nine, 10 or 11 points with their first two cards, they can double their bet, but with the proviso that they can only get one more card.
Remember that… Oral wagers are not accepted, as they do not have any value. Bettors are responsible for their wagers on the table.
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