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Player decisions while playing blackjack

Playing Blackjack, the player is supposed to make different choices. These player decisions define the whole process and the outcomes of the game, together with the choice of basic blackjack strategy. They may either bring success or prove a total failure.

After the two initial cards are dealt out, the player is supposed to make one of four basic decisions: Hit, Stand, Double or Split. Some casinos offer an extra option called Surrender. Every decision of the player is followed by a hand signal that depends on the way the cards are dealt out - face-up or face-down. Hand signals are mainly used to help casino authorities identify any mistakes in the course of the game, and also for protection against cheaters and advantage players applying card counting strategy.

So, here is the list of the main decisions the player makes while playing blackjack:

  1. Hit. The player who 'hits' simply asks the dealer for another card. The value of the card is added to the player's initial hand value. This option can help the player increase his chances to reach the value of 21, but it may also result in going bust if the total value of the player's cards exceeds 21.

    The signal for Hit is either simple pointing to the cards or waving hand in your own direction, as in games with handheld cards, or scraping cards against the table, as in games were cards are dealt face down.

  2. Stand. The player decides not to take more cards. This decision is made when the player is sure that his or her hand will beat the dealer's hand.

    Signals: when cards are dealt face-down, the player is to hide his or her cards under the chips; with cards dealt face-up, the player waves hand horizontally above the cards.

  3. Double (or Double Down). The player who decides to double down is supposed to double his or her bet to get one more card. It is only possible to double down after the initial hand was dealt, not after other player's decisions. But in fact there are tables that offer Double option after the Split.

    Signal: the player puts chips right next to his or her previous bet and points to his extra bet with a finger. The additional bet cannot be placed on top of the first bet, only next to it.

  4. Split (Split a Pair). In case the player gets a pair of the same cards in an initial hand, he or she is able to split them into two new single-card hands. Further on the player receives a card for each hand and plays with two hands. For this the player is supposed to make additional bet that equals the first one.

    The signal for Split pairs is basically the same as with Double option, but the player also points with two fingers making a 'V'.

  5. Surrender. This decision can only be made after the initial hand is dealt out. The player who chooses to surrender while playing blackjack loses half his or her bet; the other half returns to the player. There are two variations for Surrender option: early and late surrender. In the first case the player is able to surrender before the dealer checks for "Blackjack", which is more advantageous. According to the second option, the player surrenders only after the dealer has checked the cards for "Blackjack".

    There is no signal for the Surrender option - the request is made verbally.