Holdem Blackjack – The Basics

I have seen adverts for it for a a small number of months now, in Inside Edge and Poker Player magazines abou Holdem Blackjack, and just this day have I bothered to learn out what it really is.

Holdem Blackjack is Cryptologic’s hybrid poker/blackjack game and is offered through William Hill, UK Betting etc, although currently only in real money tournament form with ring games expected early next year.

The game is played at tables of 6 players maximum. Each player puts in an ante equal to half the small blind. The players to the left of the dealer button then put in small blinds and big blinds as in normal Holdem.

Players are subsequently dealt 1 card face down and a series of betting takes place, starting to the left of the big blind. Betting is fixed limit (bets/raises equivalent to big blind) and the blinds are live, as in Holdem.

Players are after that dealt a second hold card, face up, and a further round of betting occurs, this time opening with the first active player to the left of the button. Betting is fixed limit in increments of twice the big blind.

Players then finalize their hand starting with the first active player to the left of the dealer and working clockwise round the table. Players hit or stand as they require. If they exceed 21 they must stand. Cards are dealt face down. A hand can consist of a maximum of 7 cards. There is then a concluding round of betting, spread limit this time with bets/raises being 2x to 10x the big blind. A showdown then takes place, losing hands may be mucked without being publicized. Winner takes the pot, tied hands split the pot.

The ranks of hands is:

1) 7 card Charlie (7 cards totalling 21 or less)
2) 21, 20, 19 etc.

If all hands have exceeded 21 the lowest total wins the pot.

Cards have their normal blackjack values (2-10 are face value, court cards are 10 and Ace is 1 or 11 to the players advantage).

Here is a few thoughts I have on approach for this game:

* The winning hand is generally 20 or 21, sometimes 19. It is not often lower than this and remember than any bust hand is beaten by any non-bust hand no matter how low the points total, i.e 2 beats 22

* When you can see your opponents’ up card they can have a max of 10 or 11 in the hole so you know the most they can have in their hand. So if you have 21 and your opponent has a 10 showing he cannot beat you and can split with you at best so don’t be fearful to jack the pot.

* Remember a 3 (or more) card 21 is just as advantageous as a 2 card 21 (Blackjack)

* The chances of somebody hitting a 7-card hand (an automatic winner) are in reality tiny so don’t even contemplate about it. If your opponent has 7 cards then you can still take him on. If he hit the 7-card Charlie then you’ve been unlucky and things like that come about. But don’t be afraid of the hand.

* The chances of you profitably bluffing from either a 17 (or lower) or a bust hand are small. Check it down or fold in the face of betting and hang on for the next pot.

* If your opponent has a 10 or A up and draws he was not that strong to start with, consider that and think back over his betting on earlier rounds.

* Raise in late position with a 10 or A in the hole

* If you have a 10 up card and everybody else shows low cards (7 or less) raise to try and acquire the pot there and then

* At a packed table fold anything less than 8 or 9 unless you’re in the blinds

* Call the big blind from the small blind if not facing a raise

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