How to Play 21
It doesn't matter whether you call it "21" or "blackjack", if you're planning to visit a casino, you need to know how to play 21. As far as gambling and card games go, 21 is actually one of the easier games to play anyway. And once you've played 21, you'll probably want to keep playing 21. It's a fun game.
Casino 21 is played the same regardless of how many decks the casino uses. (Some 21 players count cards, and with more decks in play, it's harder for these card counters to gain an advantage.) For the recreational player, the number of decks isn't an issue. All of the action proceed pretty much in the same manner.
The only real difference is how the cards are dealt. In a hand-held, single deck 21 game, the player receives both cards face down and is allowed to pick up her cards. In a multiple deck 21 game, the cards are dealt from a shoe, and the player receives her cards face up. Touching the cards in a shoe game is discouraged.
Your goal when playing a hand of 21 is to beat the dealer. (Some people misstate this goal as being to get as close to 21 as you can without going over, but that is NOT your goal. Misunderstanding your goal in this way will cause multiple, terrible strategy mistakes.) You can beat the dealer in one of two ways:
The cards are assigned a value of between 1 and 11. Aces are worth 1 OR 11, whichever is more favorable to the hand. Face cards are worth 10. All other cards are face value. The total value of each 21 hand is the sum of the cards' values.
Each player starts with 2 cards. The dealer gets 2 cards, but one the dealer's cards is dealt face up.
The player can decide to take additional cards ("hit") in order to try to get closer to a total of 21. Or the player can decide to keep her current total ("stand"). If the player goes over 21 total, she "busts" and loses before the dealer takes his actions.
If a player is still in the game and the dealer busts, the player automatically wins.
That about sums up how to play 21. There are some other details involved in playing blackjack (which is the other name for 21), but for a beginner, this covers the basics.
Playing 21 in an online casino is slightly different than land based casinos. This is because at almost every online casino, the deck is shuffled after every hand. This removes any advantage you could have gained from counting cards.
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