Learn Blackjack's Players Options

In addition to receiving additional cards, the player has several options at his discretion, which are not available to the dealer. These options are granted in different degrees by various casinos or may not be permitted at all.

The first option is called a pair split. If the player has two cards of the same denomination (that is two aces, deuces, nines, etc.), he may choose to turn them face up and put an amount of money equal to his original bet, playing each card as a separate new hand. Although 10's may also be split, some casinos require that they be of the same order (that is, two Jacks, rather than a Queen and a King). Most casinos consider all ten-value cards to be pairs. Except for aces, each new hand is played out separately before cards are drawn on the second hand. Split aces are dealt only one card each; face down, in most casinos. In the case of the other pair splits, should an additional card of the same denomination as the split card come up, in effect making another pair, that card may be split again as a third hand, and so on. Some casinos also have rules as to the number of split hands, such as four hands only or two hands only.

The second option is referred to as doubling down. When a player feels he has a good hand with his first two cards, and that it will become a very good hand with one additional card, he may turn his two cards face up, double his bet, and receive one and only one additional card, usually dealt face down. Some casinos only permit this with a two-card total of ten or eleven. Others will with nine, ten or eleven, while many permit this on any two-card hand. When one of the two cards held is an ace, this is referred to as soft doubling, since the player has a soft hand initially.

The third option is referred to as insurance. When the dealer's face-up card is an ace, some casinos offer the player a side bet as to whether or not the dealer has a ten-value card in the hole (making his hand a natural and an automatic winner). The dealer must offer "insurance" before he looks at the hole card (to prevent from giving it away by facial expression). "Insurance" is the most misunderstood option in the game of Blackjack. Most players think that they are insuring a good hand they may have when, in fact, all they are betting on is whether or not the dealer's hole card is a ten-value card. "Insurance" is paid at the rate of two units for one bet. The player is allowed to bet only one-half of his original bet. In this case, if the dealer has a 10 in the hole or Blackjack, the player loses his original bet and wins the insurance side bet, thereby retaining his original bet. If the dealer does not have a 10 in the hole, the player loses the insurance bet and must play his hand as he would normally.

The last option available to the player is referred to as Surrender. It originated in the Far East, and is gaining popularity with the Nevada casinos, although most do not offer this option. Simply stated, when the player looks at his hand and the dealer's face-up card, then decides that he has the worst of it, he may throw in his hand before drawing any other cards, surrendering half of his original bet. In New Jersey, the player may surrender his hand before the dealer checks his hole card. Thus, he could conceivably surrender when the dealer has a Blackjack, before the dealer looks, of course. This rule is called "Early Surrender." Should the player exercise a split or double down option, he only loses his original bet when the dealer has a "natural." In some European casinos, which offer Early Surrender, the player loses all bets when the dealer has a Blackjack. At least one casino in the world, Genting Highlands in Malaysia, has a five-card rule that allows the player to take a win of half his bet if his first five cards total twenty-one or less, before the dealer shows his hole card.

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