In theory, twenty one is a simple game. All you have to do is acquire cards whose face values add up to 21 or as close to that sum as possible without going over. Beat the dealer's score, and you're a winner. Come up short or "go bust" and you're a loser. It's that simple.
Making matters even easier is the dealer's obligation to adhere to a strict set of rules. That means there's nobody to out-think or outwit but yourself. If the dealer comes up lower than 17, he or she is bound by casino rules to hit until a sum of 17 or more is reached. Anything over 21, and the dealer goes bust as well.
So What's So Complicated About Twenty One?
Things start to get hairy when you factor in gambling strategy, which includes betting tactics as well. Many novices, for instance, deem a hand of 14 or 15 too low to win and consequently take hits on those numbers, even when basic strategy calls for them to stand. If the dealer has a two through a six showing (one of the cards is face-down), it's in the player's best interests to stick to that 14 or 15.
This is because basic strategy dictates that the dealer's "hole" card is a ten or a face (king, jack, queen, or king), which means his or her cumulative score is somewhere between 12 and 16. If that's the case, the dealer is forced to hit, and the assumption once again is that the next card dealt will be a face, taking the dealer to somewhere between 22 and 26. Any score in that range is a bust, and the player walks away a winner. For many first time online blackjack players, these strategies aren't evident, which is one of the dangers that similarly applies to gambling online. The best advice with twenty one (or any game) is to know the rules well in advance of placing your first bet.