Blackjack 101

December 21, 2018

A quick refresher if you are going to have friends over and you plan to play Blackjack!

Extract Source:


The point of the game is for you to get a count as close as possible to 21, without going over that number. Ideally, your count will equal 21 naturally or you will get to 21 by hitting a time or two. If your hand does not equal 21 and you have not gone over that mark, you want your hand to be closer to 21 than the dealer’s hand is. If it is, you win. It does not matter what your tablemates’ hands add up to because you are only competing against the dealer.

Card values

* Ace: One or 11
* King: 10
* Queen: 10
* Jack: 10
* [2-10]: go by their facevalue


Every blackjack table in a casino has minimum and maximum betting limits that are clearly visible. Before the dealer deals, players place bets within these limits. Once everyone has wagered, the dealer gives every player a single card working in a clockwise rotation, with the dealer getting the last card. All of the cards in this first pass are dealt face-up. The dealer then hands out a second round of face-up cards, but deals their second card face down. Because the players’ cards are dealt face-up, there is no need for players to touch them.

If the first two cards you are dealt are an ace and a face card or a ten, your hand is a “natural” or “blackjack.” If you have a natural and the dealer does not, you will receive one-and-a-half times the amount of your wager. If you and your dealer have blackjacks, the round is a stand-off or a tie, and you get to keep your bet. If the dealer has a natural and you do not, the dealer will collect your wager.


The action at a blackjack table begins with the person to the left of the dealer and moves from one player to the next in succession. When it is your turn, you will need to decide if you want to “stand,” which means not asking for another card, or “hit,” which means requesting another card to bring the overall value of your hand closer to 21. When you hit, you will receive one card at a time until your hand equals 21, you are satisfied with your hand’s total or your hand goes “bust.” If your hand goes bust, it means the value of your hand exceeded 21 and you lost your bet.

If your initial two cards include an ace and a card that does not have a value of ten, you have a “soft hand.” This is because you have the option of treating the ace as if it has a value of 11 or a value of one. If you are using a value of 11 and you get a card that would put the value of your hand over 21, you can simply change the value of your ace to one in order to keep playing.

Whereas players have options during play, a dealer’s actions at a blackjack table are formulaic and they are dictated by the cards. Here are the actions you will see a blackjack dealer take depending on the first two cards in their hand:
* Total is 17 or Greater: Blackjack dealers must stand if the total value of their first two cards is equal to or greater than 17.
* Value is 16 or Less: If the combined value of the first two cards a dealer gets is 16 or less, the dealer must take cards one at a time until the value of their hand is 17 or more without going over 21.
* Dealer Has an Ace: When dealers have an ace and giving the card a value of 11 would bring their hand to a total of at least 17, they have to use the value of 11 and stand.

In addition to hitting or standing, you have the option of doing the following when it is your turn to act:
* Splitting Pairs: If your first two cards are the same, you can split them into two separate hands. Your original bet will go on one hand and you will have to place another wager of the same amount on the second hand. You will play the hand on the left-hand side first and then you will play your second hand after you are done with the first one. If you split aces, you will only be able to hit once per hand. If you get a ten card to pair with one of your aces, the payout will only be one-to-one instead of the usual one-to-one-and-a-half you would normally get for a blackjack.
* Doubling Down: When your first two cards have a combined value of nine, 10 or 11, you can double down by doubling the amount of your bet. If you do this, you will get just one more card, dealt face down. That card will not be turned over until all of the other bets are settled at the end of the hand.

When players go bust, they lose their wagers, even if the dealer ultimately goes bust in the same round of play. When dealers go over 21, they pay the players who stood the amount that they bet. When dealers stand with a 21 or a lesser value, players who have a higher value while remaining under 21 win. Players whose hands have a value lower than the dealer’s cards lose their wagers. When there is a stand-off or a tie between a dealer and a player, no chips are exchanged between the dealer and that person.

Basic Blackjack Strategy for Beginners

It really does not matter if you are a new player or a seasoned veteran, the basic strategy for blackjack is the same. When you play
blackjack, you should do your best to stick to the following guidelines:

* If the dealer’s face-up card is a seven, eight, nine, 10, face card or an ace, you should continue hitting until your hand has a value of at least 17.
* If the dealer’s face-up card is less than seven but more than three, you should only hit until the value of your hand hits a minimum of 12.
* If the dealer’s face-up card is a two or a three, you should hit until your hand is worth 13 or more.
* If you have a soft hand such as an ace and a five, you should continue hitting until the value of your hand is 18 or more.
* You should double down if your initial two cards have a combined value of 11.
* If your cards total 10, you should double down if the dealer’s up card is an ace, face card or a ten.
* If your initial two cards have a total value of nine, you should only double down if the dealer is showing a two, three, four, five or six.
* If you have a pair of aces or eights, you should split your hand.
* If you have a pair of twos, threes or sevens, you should split your hand unless the dealer is showing an eight, nine, ten, face card or ace.
* You should only split sixes if the dealer’s face-up card is a two, three, four, five or six.
* Do no split your hand when you have a pair of fours, fives or tens.


Chicken biryani

November 16, 2009

This recipe is for a very gharelu (homely) chicken biryani – meant only for the family or friends who are family 🙂 !

Ingredients: (for 2 adults)

  1. Chicken              – 1/2 kg (boneless or otherwise)
  2. Basmati Rice         – 1 cup
  3. Curd            – 1 or 1.5 cup
  4. Tej patta (bay leaves)    – 2 or 3 nos.
  5. Badi Ilaichi (cardamom)    – 2 nos.
  6. Dalchini (Cinnamon)     – 2 or 3 sticks
  7. Kali mirch (Pepper)           – 4 – 5
  8. Biryani Shahi Garam Masala    – 1 tea spoon
  9. Dried red chilli (saboot) or green chillies   – 2 no.
  10. Ginger             – 1/2 inch ginger
  11. Garlic             – 2 or 3 nos.
  12. Onions            – 1 or 2 medium size
  13. Potatoes            – 1 medium size
  14. Ghee/Butter            – 1 tea spoon
  15. Sugar            – 1 or 2 tea spoon
  16. Salt            – 2 tea spoon (or according to taste)
  17. Turmeric            – 1/2 tea spoon
  18. Cooking oil         – 2 or 3 table spoon (whichever cooking oil you use at home – groundnut/soya bean/sunflower oil)


1) Marinate the chicken for 20min.  Basically mix chicken, dahi, salt and pinch of turmeric and keep it aside for 20min.
2) Cook the rice just so much that it does not stick and stays firm.  It should not be completely cooked as otherwise it will start sticking to the pan when it is mixed with chicken and cooked further.  Drain all the water and cool down the rice.
3) Crush or grind the ginger, garlic, onion and keep the mixture or paste aside
4) Peel the potato and cut it into two pieces

Cooking procedure:

  1. Heat 2-3 table spoon cooking oil in a pan
  2. When the oil is heated, add the crushed ginger, garlic, onion to the oil and turn it till it turns red/brown.
  3. Add tej patta, slightly crushed badi ilaichi, dal chini, kali mirch and green/red chilli and turn them in the oil.
  4. Add chicken and turn it and mix it properly and keep turning for a while on slow flame.
  5. Add water and bring it to a boil.
  6. When the water evaporates add salt, sugar, a pinch or quarter tea spoon turmeric and biryani shahi garam masala and make the chicken completely dry.  The chicken should be completely cooked by now.
  7. Add rice and mix well.
  8. Add a tea spoon of ghee or butter, lower the flame, cover the pot and let the rice cook in steam – this cooking takes only 2-3 minutes.  If the rice starts sticking before you are done just switch off the gas and keep the lid closed.  The rice will cook in the steam.
  9. Your Biryani is ready!  You can garnish it with chopped coriander leaves and/or fried onions.


September 27, 2007

Kaka worked at Aru’s day care.  He suffered a heart-attack yesterday afternoon, on the day-care premises, which he could not survive. 

Officially, I think, Kaka was the gate-keeper at the day-care.  But, he played innumerable roles, all at once.  For the day-care management, he was the quintessential helper they could turn to if they needed anything done.  For the kids – he was their ‘Kaka’.  Their companion who put on the swings, slides and doll-house for them, who was the first one to greet them with a ‘Good Morning’ when they entered their school, who made it a point to say ‘Good Bye’ to every single kid, who kept track of their school buses and informed the Aunties if the bus did not arrive on time.  If Aru did not see Kaka in his seat in the morning or while leaving, her eyes would invariably search for him.  They did yesterday and today morning.  I told her he was probably busy with some work.  Not knowing that we were not going to say  ‘Good Morning’ or ‘Good Bye’ to him, ever.

Kaka was one of those people who touch your lives subtly.  They just become part of your life, even without your realising, as if they’ve always been around.  Standing quietly, without even making their presence felt.  And you realise they were around all this while, only after they leave.  And they leave behind them, this void. 

How do I explain this to the little one.  How do I answer her – “Mamma, Kaka kahaan gaye?”

Kaka, may your soul rest in peace.

I think I’m multi-tasking a bit too much these days or maybe there is too much on my mind.  But, I don’t seem to accomplish much!!  I must be getting old.  Or maybe these are all plain excuses and I’m just being careless 😦

Last week was terrible. I can’t help getting irritated with myself when I think about it even now.

Hubby dear was busy with myriad things at work and hence I had to drop the little one to the day care throughout the week. Now, the little one is used to me picking her up and as a result was a little unhappy with the whole arrangement, which obviously made things that much more difficult. But, I had no clue that the whole week will turn into this big adventure.

The first day I managed to bribe her with her current favourite mint- Vicks. I know, I know, thats wrong and I was taking the easy way out. Call me a bad mother, go ahead. The young lady was thrilled to have blue, green and orange Vicks as we drove off. As we reached the day care, she turned grumpy and refused to talk to me. She even refused to say bye-bye and I had to just walk away as she cuddled up in her aunty’s lap. I felt terrible inside and her sad face just refused to leave me the whole day. The next day wasn’t any different and I kept worrying about her. On Wednesday, the princess refused to wear her sandals as we were getting ready to leave. I didn’t want to bother her, so I just picked her, her bag, my handbag, her shoes (yes all of it!) locked the house and started getting the car out. Aru was obviously not in a good mood, I tried to cheer her as I arranged her snacks, her pillow, her toys in the rear seat and put on her favourite music. In all this, I kept her shoes on the top of the car and just drove off. I realized what had happened when I reached the day care. And these were those expensive “Kittens” sandals, which we bought over the weekend! Next morning, same story. As I drove her to the day care, I kept trying to engage her into a conversation. No luck. I decided to stop over at a departmental store and buy her a lollypop. As I got down and picked her up, I accidentally locked the car with the keys inside. I kicked myself, but there was nothing I could do. The only thing I could feel good about was that Aru wasn’t locked inside. I had to take a auto and drop her to her day care, then go to office and get the spare key, get back to the place where I had parked the car, drive to the day care to drop her bag and then drive to office. Boy, was I exhausted!! And if you thought this ends my adventure, no, it doesn’t. Next day, I drove some eight kilometers with my hand brakes on. And I kept wondering all the time why the car wasn’t running smoothly after the recent servicing!

And thus ended my week.

On 19th March Aru turned two!! 

She had been enjoying birthday celebrations at her day care- loved to sing the birthday song, loved the non-creamy cakes and wafers that are part of the celebration at the day care.  Everytime there was a birthday she kept talking about it for weeks. 

Aru: Mamma, aaj Mehul ka birthday thaa.  Aru ne cake khaaya.  Aru ko cake pasand hai.
      (Mamma, today was Mehul’s birthday.  Aru ate cake.  Aru likes cake. (Yes, she refers to herself in third person))

Mamma: Wow!! Aur aapne Mehul ke liye birthday song gaaya?  Kaise gaaya?
              (Wow!!  And did you sing the birthday song for Mehul?  How did you sing?)

Aru: Haapy Birthday to you!  Haapy Birthday to you!  Haapy birthday to dear Mehul!  (starts clapping vigorously)

(She can sing only two lines.  And no, I didn’t forget to spellcheck.  “Haapy” is how Aru pronounces it!)

Naturally she had been waiting for hers and once in a while she would enquire “Mamma, Aru ka birthday kab hai?” (Mamma, when is Aru’s birthday?)  So, after a lot of deliberations, we decided to have a small kids-n-moms snack party at home.  It took me close to a week to list all the kids in our society whom we meet in the park.  We ended up inviting close to 26 kids (and 19 moms!) for our small snacks party.  Aru is surely not going to lack company when she grows up!  Suddenly our plan of in-house party seemed overly ambitious.

We had been terribly busy at work and with our recent shifting, so we decided to outsource all the arrangements.  Here are some snaps of the D-day.

The front door and the living room.

Baloons all over!

Aru inspecting and appreciating the decorations.

Aru cutting her birthday cake.

Time to open the gifts!!!

Time to relax after the games.

After the party was over, I was left feeling as if a tornado had visited our place.  Being a mother of a a teeny weeny dainty girl, I had no clue of what the little boys are capable of!!!  I’m sure any more birthday celebrations will have to wait till Aru grows up and really starts understanding…

technorati tags: