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Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

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Monday, September 18, 2006

How to Play Blackjack

Entire books can be, and have beenwritten about playing and winning blackjack. The following is only a basic blackjack education. Review the steps below to learn the basics of the game.

The Elements

  1. Know the object of the game: to get a hand higher than the dealer's without going over 21.

  2. Know how to score a hand: a king, queen, jack and ten are always worth 10 points each; the ace can be either 11 points or 1 point; and the other cards are their face value - an eight is worth 8 points, for example.

  3. Increase your hand's value by asking the dealer for more cards, one at a time.

  4. Try to stop taking cards before your hand exceeds 21 points. You automatically lose if you go over 21 - "go bust."

  5. Notify the dealer and the other players immediately by showing your cards if you get a natural 21 - one using only 2 cards, an ace and either a face card or a 10 - a "blackjack."

  6. Win the hand by not going over 21 and by having the same number of points or more points than the dealer has when he or she stops taking cards.

At the Casino

  1. Scope out the available blackjack tables. Each table will have a sign showing its minimum and maximum bets. Look for house rules written on the table's surface.

  2. Find a blackjack table that has a minimum bet in your price range, sit down and place your bet. If a hand is being dealt as you sit down, wait until the next hand to join the game.

  3. Wait until all players have placed their bets and the dealer has given two cards to each player and himself. One of the dealer's cards will be shown face up.

  4. Consider placing an insurance bet if the card the dealer is showing is an ace. An insurance bet is a bet that the dealer has been dealt a 21. If the dealer has 21, the insurance bet pays 2 to 1 and all other bets are cleared from the table. If the dealer does not have 21, the insurance bet is lost.

  5. Ask for another card when the dealer comes to you by saying "Hit me," scratch the table with your hand, or simply responding "Yes".

  6. Pass on taking another card by waving your hand above the cards in a censoring manner or simply responding "No" to the dealer's query.

Cool Lingo

"Surrender" if you are unhappy with your hand and don't want to continue playing. Some casinos will allow you to "surrender" the bet - leave the game by giving half your wager to the house rather than staying and losing the entire wager. Tell the dealer, "I'm out," or, "I'd like to surrender my bet." This is the only verbal command given to the dealer.

"Double down" to bet that you will win the hand with only one more card dealt to you. Doubling down doubles the amount of the original bet. Simply tell the dealer that you'd like to double down.

"Split pairs" when you are dealt two cards with the same face value. Splitting a pair gives you the option to create two separate hands. Indicate to the dealer that you wish to split the pair by separating the cards face up on the table and placing another bet equal to your initial wager in front of one of the cards. The dealer will then deal a new card for each hand, and each hand will be played individually against the dealer. Some casinos will only allow doubling down when the initial cards equal 10 or 11.

Other Tips

Think carefully before standing when the dealer shows a 2 - while it's possible that he'll pull two pictures and bust, it's more likely that he'll end up with 19, 20, or 21. To the dealer, a 2 is almost as good as an ace.

Always split a pair of aces or pair of 8's; never split a pair of 10's or 5's. In general, doubling down is best done when you have a 9, 10, or 11. If you have a 9, double down if the dealer has 3, 4, 5, or 6. If you have a 10, double down on any card the dealer is showing except a 10, face card, or ace. If you have an 11, double down on every card the dealer may have except an ace.

When your hand adds up to 13-16 and you don't know whether to stay or to hit, these two rules generally apply: 1) If the card the dealer shows is a 7, 8, 9, 10, Jack, Queen, King or Ace, then hit. 2) Otherwise, stay. Chances are the dealer will "bust."

Get the chair that lets you be dealt last. This gives you control over the next card the dealer will get. So if the dealer shows a 6, you can control his busting and prevent someone on the end hitting, taking the key face card.

Accessible Blackjack Games for the Blind

There are some accessible blackjack games that hyou can try your luck on.

Tiflo 21 is an accesible Windows version of the popular Blackjack card game. The game can be played either in the english or spanish language.

The game starts when the dealer gets two cards, one face up, one face down. You are dealt two cards face up. You can either stay or take more cards to try and get closer to 21 without busting. The dealer will turn up the down card when you've finished with your turn. By rule, on counts of 17 or higher the dealer must stay; on counts of 16 or lower the dealer must draw. If you make a total of 21 with the first two cards (a 10 or a face and an Ace), you win automatically, unless the dealer also has Blackjack, in which case it is a Tie. The first to reach five wins is the winner of Tiflo 21.

Click this link to download Tiflo 21.

Jim Kitchen has developed a package of casino games which has a black jack table a craps table, a 5 card draw poker machine, a slot machine and a roulette wheel table.

Click this link to visit Jim Kitchen's website to download his accessible casino program:

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