Blackjack is one of Vietnam casinos easiest games to play. Many foreigners enjoy playing the game, also known as Twenty-One, for its thrilling and highly addictive nature. Expats and locals alike consider Blackjack as a highly strategic game. It is something they can really win at. Vietnamese locals are still quite new when it comes to betting in casinos as they are only allowed to gamble recently but they are finding the game of Blackjack quite fascinating.
Some locals are still learning how to play Blackjack but many believe they will learn and master it in no time. Vietnamese people are inherent gamblers. Before gambling was considered illegal, almost half of its population engage in the activity already so it is no surprise that the newly given freedom will give them an edge against foreign competitors. Vietnamese people bet in almost any kind of activity. They bet on cockfighting, greyhound racing, and even in lotteries.
Vietnamese people are expected to excel in Blackjack as they are also quite good at poker. In fact, players who can analyse the cards almost always wins against the odds. Blackjack is an attractive game to play even for newbies as the odds are always lesser. Blackjack can even be played in a casino, at home, or even online using mobile phones through live dealers. Whilst the rules may differ in various platforms, Blackjack remains an enjoyable game for many.
How to Play Blackjack
The Card Pack
The game uses a standard 52-card deck. However, some casinos use several decks shuffled together to eliminate bias and card counting. Some use six decks with 312 cards. In a six-deck card, dealers place a blank plastic card underneath the bottom of the pack to signal when the cards should be reshuffled. In some home games that use multiple decks of cards, dealing of the cards is done using a shoe (a box that lets the dealer give out the cards one by one, face down, without the need of holding several card packs).
The objective of the game is simple and straightforward. Each player must beat the dealer by getting cards with a count closest to 21 as possible, without going beyond 21.
Face cards have values equal to 10 whilst the other cards other than the ace have face values (i.e. 4 is equal to 4 and 9 is equal to 9). The value of the ace can be either 1 or 11 depending on how the player wishes to play it.
How to Bet in Blackjack
The betting begins before the dealer hands out the cards to the players. Players must place their chips in front of their designated area. The minimum and maximum bets or limits should be established before the game begins. In general, the betting limits range from $2 to $500.
Shuffling and Cutting the Pack
To ensure the cards will be given randomly, the dealer must thoroughly shuffle the decks of cards until they are completely mixed and combined. After shuffling, one player must cut the deck and place the blank plastic card. This will indicate the bottom cards which will not be used. Some games do not deal the bottom of the cards to make it more difficult for professional card counters to ruin the game.
Dealing the Cards
As soon as all bets are in place, the dealer will hand out one face-up card to each of the player and to himself. The deal will rotate clockwise. Another round of dealing will ensue but this time the dealer’s second card is face down. So, each player will receive two face-up cards except for the dealer. In some instances, however, both cards are dealt face down for all the players.
The Natural or Blackjack can happen when the player’s first two cards are a ten-card (a 10 or a face card) and an ace, giving him a 21 card with only two cards. Players who have a natural automatically wins a one a half times of his bet, provided that the dealer does not have a natural. If the dealer ends up with a natural, he automatically wins the round and collects all the bets on the table except for those who have a natural.
When the dealer’s face-up card is either an ace or a ten-card, he should look at the face-down card to see if he has a natural. If the face-up card is neither an ace nor a ten-card, he can only look at his face-down card when it is his turn to play.
When all the cards are dealt, the play proceeds starting from the player to the left. He must decide whether to stand or hit. A player may choose to stand on the two cards first dealt to him or ask the dealer for additional cards, one by one until he decides to stand on the total, which can be close to 21 or exactly 21. Asking for more cards also opens up the possibility of going bust or going beyond 21. If the player goes bust, he loses and the dealer collects his bets. After this, the dealer will proceed to the next player on his left.
Having an ace paired with a card other than a ten-card is called a soft hand because the player can decide whether to use the ace as a 1 or 11 card. A soft 16 (a 5 and an ace), can be a 6 or 16. Whilst some players consider 16 a good hand, the player can opt to draw another card and hope for a higher total. Should the player ask for a hit and draws a bust when the ace is counted as 11, the player can simply count the ace as 1 and continue to play.
The Dealer’s Play
Once the dealer is done serving all the players, he will turn up his face-down card. If the total equals to 17 or more, the dealer must stand. When the total is equal to 16 or under, he must take another card until the total equals to 17 or higher. When the dealer has an ace and counting it as an 11 would bring his total to 17 or more but not more than 21, he must count the ace as 11 and stand.
Splitting pairs is possible in Blackjack, it allows the players to make additional bets and hope for better wins. This is possible when the first two cards of the player have the same denominations as in two tens or two sevens. The player may choose to play them as two separate hands. The original bet goes to one of the cards and he must make an equal bet to the other hand. As the two hands are treated separately, the player will play his hand to the left before playing his other hand. In an instance the player has a pair of aces, the player can only have one card for each of the aces and can no longer hit again. If the ten-card is dealt to one of the aces, the payout is only equal to the bet and not one-half to one as this is not considered a natural.
The player can choose to double his bet when the first two cards dealt is equal to 9, 10, or 11. The player must make a bet equal to his original bet and the dealer gives him just one card, face down, and must not be turned up until the bets are settled. By having two fives, the player can choose to split it, double down, or play the hand the regular way. The option of splitting and doubling down is not applicable to the dealer.
If the dealer’s face-up card is an ace, players have to option of making a side bet up to half the original bet. They can bet that the dealer’s face down card is a ten-card, earning him a natural or blackjack. As soon as all the side bets are placed, the dealer will look at his face-down card. If it is a ten-card, it is automatically turned up and those who bought insurance will win and get double their half bet. Since the dealer has a blackjack, the dealer wins and all bets are collected except for players who also have a blackjack.
The dealer almost always has an advantage since all bets once paid and collected are never returned. Dealers always go last. So players going bust before the dealer’s turn lose even if the dealer goes bust also. Keep this in mind when you play blackjack as a dealer or when you play blackjack as a regular player.
Strategies in Winning Blackjack
Blackjack is an enjoyable game to play with friends or whilst visiting a casino in Vietnam. You just have to know the different strategies one may use to win. Some of the strategies one may use include:
- If the dealer’s face-up card is 7, 8, 9, 10, or an ace, the player should only stop drawing when 17 is reached.
- If the dealer’s face-up card is 4, 5, or 6, the player should immediately stop drawing as soon as his total equals 12 or higher.
- If the player has a soft hand, he should keep hitting until the total is equal to 18. A player with an ace and a six (7 or 17), the player should still hit.
- For doubling down, players with a total of 11 should always double down. If the total is 10, the player must double down unless the dealer’s face-up card is a ten-card or an ace. If the total is 9, only double down if the dealer’s face-up card is from 2 to 6.
- A player should only split the following: a pair of 8s and a pair of aces. Never split identical ten-cards, a pair of 5s, and a pair of 4s. In general, pairs of 2s, 3s, or 7s can be split except when the dealer has an 8, 9, ten-card, or an ace. Only split a pair of 6s if the dealer’s card is 2 to 6.