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The Importance of Card and Hand Values in Blackjack

The whole point of the card game known as “Blackjack” is to attain a “hand value” of twenty-one, or as near to that figure as possible without going over (“bust”). In order to reach twenty-one the players and dealer all follow the same set of card values that can add up to the winning figure.

Standard values in a game of Blackjack are:

  • Face cards of the Jack, Queen and King are worth ten
  • Cards two through ten are worth their face value
  • The Ace has two possible values of either one or eleven depending upon the effect it will have on the player’s hand

Each player begins a hand of Blackjack by receiving two cards. There are various rules and methods of receiving and handling cards, but each game always begins with two cards to the player.

From this point a player must assess the value of their initial hand in order to know how to proceed. While there are dozens of techniques, strategies and methods of play, a player must do some quick analysis about their hand.

For example, a player who is dealt a four and a five understands that they can take at least one more card without going “bust”, or exceeding twenty-one, while a player who has a Queen and a Jack knows that their hand value of twenty will go bust unless they get an Ace.

Standard Blackjack strategy states that most players, and dealers, should look to “stand” on a hand of seventeen or higher. While some tables have rules that oblige a dealer to stand on a certain hand value, others do not, and most players and dealers do follow some basic strategic maneuvers, such as holding at set amounts.

Aces can change how a player acts because of their flexible value. When a player has an Ace in their hand that can be valued at one or eleven, that player is said to have a “soft” hand. All hands that can have more than a single value are called “soft”.

A player who holds an Ace that can only be valued at one, otherwise it will cause the player to “bust”, is said to have a “hard” hand. All hands that have only a single value are referred to as “hard”.

While the Ace is beneficial to a hand’s value, most players desire a “ten” card of one kind or another. It is important to remember that there are more “ten” cards in the game than any other. This is because there are the four standard cards with a face value of ten, and there are the twelve face cards valued at ten each. The main reason a player wants a ten card is because of the probability that they can reach “blackjack” as well. Either through an Ace and their “ten” card (any two card “blackjack” is referred to as a “natural”) or by accumulating cards of lower values along with their “ten”.



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