Poker Home Games – Idiot’s Blackjack

September 15, 2007

Hey, it’s my birthday today! Time to give a few people a call and round up a game for this evening. All I need to do first is dig out a few cigars (preferably unsmoked ones), and tire my wife out before it gets too late. What was that? Nevermind.

In the meantime, however, let’s talk about another fun home game that really isn’t based around poker. But everyone needs a break from poker every now and then anyway, so having a few games to throw into the mix keeps things fresh, and sometimes spawns new and more inventive ways to take your friends money :)

You will find, however, there are chances to bluff and make smart bets in this game, as well.

Here we go with idiot’s blackjack. It’s actually called something else, but I prefer not to call out an entire group of people here. I know my friends who read this (and actually came up with the game, or at least introduced me to it) will yell at me for not staying true to the real name of the game, but they can deal with it.

1.) Any amount of people really can play this game. You can always add a second deck if you think you’ll be short on cards.

2.) One person begins as the dealer (this is a lengthy game, as everyone at the table will get an opportunity to be the dealer for two full hands.)
3.) Unlike regular blackjack, each player does not play against the same dealer hand. Instead, it is a succession of individual one-on-one matches between the players and the dealer. The dealer’s cards are discarded after each one, and a new set of two cards are dealt for the dealer to take on the next player.

4.) The ante per each player is $2.00. It can be more, or less, that’s just what we used to play with. The dealer ante’s, as well. One nice thing for the dealer is that he or she can’t lose more than the ante during his or her deal.

5.) There will be two unique rounds of blackjack per deal. During the first round, there is a limit to how much you can bet, usually whatever the ante is. This way, it keeps money in the pot for the second round.

6.) Betting – If you are the player, and it’s your turn to play the dealer, you’ll get your two cards, and at that point will have to make a determination as to how much you’re going to bet. It can be nothing, it can be half the ante, or it can be the full ante. After the bet amount is set, you proceed with your hand, hit, stand, whatever you want to do.

***A few things to clarify, each player’s hand will be one card up and one card down. At no point is anyone dealt two cards up. Also:

– Dealer wins all ties

– There is no splitting or doubling down. It is simply who gets closer to 21 without going over.

– if a players busts (and they must admit it since the have a hole card), then the dealer automatically wins, meaning the dealer doesn’t have to play out their hand.

7.) There are no casino rules for the dealer. He can choose to hit on 17, he can stand on 12. In fact, this is where some smart bluff technique on the part of the player can net you some quick money. Let’s say the player has a 9 face up, but only a 3 face down. He can choose to bet the max and stand, making the dealer believe he has 19, and thus forcing a dealer who typically would stand on 18 take a hit, and risk busting.

Why would the dealer care, you ask? You’ll see very shortly.

8.) After the first round is complete, the max bet limit is history for the second round. Each player, when it’s his or her turn, can bet the pot, and of course, can lose the pot.

9.) When the deal comes down to the last player and the dealer, these two get the opportunity to negotiate with the remaining money in the pot. (See, this is why the dealer wants a big pot at the end). Based on the strengths of the two hands, it can become a 50/50 split, a 90/10 split, or one may choose to refuse negotiations altogether and take his or her chances with the hand they have. (Obviously if you’re dealt 21, you won’t be in the mood for negotiating.)

After the last hand with the negotiation, the dealer gets all of the remaining money in the pot. So if the last person to play only bets a portion, regardless of whether he wins or loses, the dealer claims what’s left for himself.

10.) After one deal is complete, the deal shifts to the left and the two hands are repeated. This continues until everyone has had a chance to deal.

Now, if you start with a $5 ante and the dealer’s giving himself some strong hands, you realistically could see a nice $50 pot when it comes down to negotiating time. And by negotiating, I don’t mean “You give me the money and I let you live,” which is how much of my high school years sounded.

Have fun with this one, it’s a great game that offers a totally different challenge to those who think they can read their friends. Since one typically has no need to bluff in blackjack, it can be interesting to see how they react to being in the situation in this game.

Hit me, baby.

By the way, did you know you can play blackjack on – that’s right.