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A Beginner’s Guide to Atlantic City Blackjack

An Introduction to Atlantic City Blackjack  

Back in 1976, the state of New Jersey legalised the casino industry in Atlantic City. It wasn’t long before casinos started to open and Resorts Atlantic City, the city’s first casino is still open to this day. To help kick-start the city’s new industry, a new form of Blackjack was devised to help and attract players, Atlantic City Blackjack. 

The game is not dissimilar to Vegas Strip Blackjack, but it is designed to have even more liberal rules in order to draw in players. There are three important difference for players to be aware of, it is played with eight decks of cards (Vegas Blackjack uses four), the dealer is required to stand on soft 17, and the game allows for the surrendering of hands. There are some other differences to the rules, when it comes to doubling down and splitting, and all of these combine to make it a hugely attractive game. 

The game has the same basic aim as any other Blackjack variant. You need to build a hand that has a value as close to 21 as possible but without exceeding it and going bust. At the end of the round, as long as your hand is closer to 21 than the dealer’s is, then you win.  

Blackjack hand values are very easy to understand. The number cards (2 to 10) are worth their face values, face cards (Jack, Queen, King) are all worth 10, and Aces are worth 1 or 11. This means, that you can achieve 21 with just two cards, an Ace and a ten card. This hand is called Blackjack; it is the best possible hand and will beat all others.  

At the start of a round, you need to bet on any hand positions that you need to play. There are some versions of the game, including here at mr.play Casino, that allow you to play multiple hands simultaneously. After placing your bets, you will be dealt two face-up cards to each active hand while the dealer receives one face-up card and one face down.  

If the dealer’s face-up card is worth 10, then before you play your hand, the dealer will check for Blackjack. This will speed up the game and prevent you betting any more on a hand that is set to lose (for instance, by doubling or splitting). If the dealer is showing an Ace, then you have the opportunity to take out insurance against the dealer having Blackjack. Insurance costs half of your original bet and if the dealer does have Blackjack, you will be paid out at 2:1 for the insurance, meaning that you won’t lose any money for that hand.  

Assuming that the dealer does not have Blackjack, the round then proceeds. You will have four main options for each hand: 

  • Stand – Your hand remains as is and play moves to the next hand or the dealer.  
  • Hit – You receive another card, if you don’t bust then you may Hit or Stand again. 
  • Double – This doubles your bet, you will receive one more card, and then the hand stands. Unlike many versions of Blackjack, Atlantic City Blackjack allows you to double regardless of your hand value.  
  • Surrender – If, after the initial two cards are dealt, you think you have a losing hand then you can choose to give it up and receive half of your bet back.  

Another option offered by Atlantic City Blackjack is the splitting of hands that contain cards with an identical value. Most version of the games will only allow hands to be split once, but some versions will allow multiple splits. However, if you split two Aces then just one more card is dealt to each hand. You can also double after splitting. The most important thing to remember is that splitting will double your bet as you need to bet on each individual hand.  

When you have finished playing your hands the dealer will play. In Atlantic City Blackjack, the dealer will always draw more cards until the hand is worth at least 17. 

At the end of the round, you are paid out for winning hands. A winning Blackjack hand pays at 3:2 while all other hands pay at 1:1. If you have drawn with the dealer then your bet is returned as a push. 

Atlantic City Blackjack Side Bets 

You will find versions of Atlantic City Blackjack that offer side bets giving you the chance to win more. Here at mr.play Casino you will find games offering the 21+3 and the Pairs side bets. The 21+3 pays out if the first two cards of a hand together with the dealer’s card form a Flush, a Straight, a Three of a Kind, a Straight Flush or a Suited Three of a Kind. A flush pays 5:1, a Straight pays 10:1, Three of a Kind pays 30:1, a Straight Flush pays 40:1 and a Suited Three of a Kind pays 100:1. 

The Pair bet wins if a hand’s first two cards form a perfect pair (two identical cards), a coloured pair (the same colour but different suit) or a mixed pair (different suit). A Mixed Pair pays 6:1, a Coloured Pair pays 12:1, and a Perfect Pair pays 25:1.  

Basic Atlantic City Blackjack Strategy 

One of the great things about Blackjack is that in any situation, it is possible to work out the chances of a specific card being dealt. This is because we know exactly how many cards are in the deck and we know which cards have already been dealt. As a result, there is something called Perfect Blackjack Strategy. This is a strategy that tells you the mathematically best decision to take in any situation and when properly followed, it means that Atlantic City Blackjack has a house edge of just 0.39%. 

The strategy is expressed as a chart with player cards down the side and the dealer’s face-up card along the top. You simply look up the correct combination and the chart tells you what action to take, Hit, Stand, Surrender, etc. The charts are very simple to follow, but they do take a little bit of time to become familiar with.  

After a while, you will find that you have memorised much of the chart and that following it becomes instinctual. However, until that happens, there are a few rules that you can follow: 

  • Always surrender a 16 if the dealer is showing 9, 10 or A 
  • Always surrender a 15 if the dealer is showing 10 
  • Double Down on all totals of 11 if the dealer is showing anything from 2 to 10 
  • Double Down on all totals of 10 if the dealer is showing anything from 2 to 9 
  • Double Down on hard 9s if the dealer is showing anything from 3 to 6 
  • Double Down on soft totals A-2 to A-7 if the dealer is showing a 5 or 6 
  • Always stand with a hard total of 18 or higher  
  • Always hit a hard total of 4 through to 8 (unless you have a pair, in which case refer to the strategy chart). 
  • Never split a pair of 5s or ten value cards such as 10-Q, 10-J, etc. 
  • Always split Aces and 8s 

These are obviously just a few rules extracted from the chart, but they are a very good starting point. 

Examples 

Imagine you are dealt a 9 and a 7 and the dealer is showing a 9. According to the first rule above, you surrender. 

If you are dealt a 2 and a 7 and the dealer has a 4. You have a hard hand as it does not contain an Ace. Therefore, according to the rules shown above, you should Double Down.  

If you are dealt a 10 and a 9, this is a hard hand with a total greater than 18, so you stand. 

As you can see, the above rules are really very simple to follow and instead of memorising an entire strategy chart, you just need to commit ten easy rules to memory.  

Atlantic City Blackjack Betting System 

The key to enjoyable long-term Blackjack play is proper bankroll management. It will ensure that you do not run out of funds and can keep playing for as long as you want. To help you achieve this, it is worth considering a betting strategy. 

There are many different Blackjack betting systems. In general, they are split into two types, positive progressions, in which you raise your bet after a win, and negative progressions, in which you raise your bet after a loss.  

One of the most popular betting systems is the Oscar Betting System and it is a combination of positive and negative progressions. The mathematician Allan N. Wilson published the system in 1965 and he named it after the dice player who invented it.  

The idea of the system is to win a single unit from a series of bets, after which point the system starts again. This means that if you win on the first hand, then it is already time to start a new series. 

However, let’s take an example where you lose the first hand having placed a bet of £1 (one unit). You will then place the same bet as the previous hand. If you win then you have recovered your loss. However, you have not yet accomplished the aim of making a single unit of profit, so you do not start the series again. Therefore, in the next hand, you increase your bet by one unit (so you bet £2). If you then win again, you have made your profit and then start the cycle again on the next hand, i.e. you bet £1 again.  

The trick is not to make a bet that will result in a profit of more than one unit for a series. For example, if you have won a bet with 4 units and you need 2 more units to recover your losses, you do not have to make a 5-unit bet in the next hand. A bet of 3 units will be enough to recover your losses.  

This system will take a little getting used to and of course, it does not guarantee that you will win anything. However, used properly it can hopefully make your bankroll go further, so you can spend more time enjoying the excitement of Atlantic City Blackjack.  

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