Blackjack for the Atari 2600 : Hit or hold… wisely!

Developper : Atari

Publisher : Atari

Year : 1977

Type : Full game

Game description

Blackjack is a gambling game released by Atari during the launch of the Atari 2600. It is also known by this name under the Sears label.

It is a simulation of the card game of the same name. Player bets and hope to get the highest number of points. However, if a player end up with more than 21 points, they bust and automatically lose the round.

Blackjack, in its simplest forms works like this :

  • One or more players compete against the dealer
  • The dealer deals two card face-up to each player and himself (in the case of the dealers, only one of the two cards is face-up
  • either stay or hit to pick more card and get closer to 21 points

Each card is word different points.

  • 2 to 9 worth 2 to 9 points respectively
  • 10, Jack, Queen and King are worth 10 points each

An ace worth either 1 or 11 points, depending of the situation (in the Atari game, it is determined automatically based on the total point of your card minus the ace). This means that you can’t bust if you pick up an ace as a third or later card.

Before starting a round, you bet 1 to 25 chips into the game. Then, if you win, you get the double of what you bet. If you lose, you will lose your bet. If you score a blackjack right at the beginning (that is, an ace with a face card or a 10), you will win the double of your bet plus a half of it. For example, if you had bet 25, you would win 75.

One novel feature of Atari Blackjack is the player configuration. At all time, during the game, it is possible for a player to join the game or another to leave at anytime. As long as there is at least one active player, the game will continue with the current setup. This make the game akin to the casino, where people can join or leave the table at will.

Each time a new player enters, he starts with 200 chips. It is also possible, when one of the players loses all its chips, to go back at the beginning with 200 chips.

Lastly, it is also possible to break the bank. At the moment you get 1000 chips, it is not possible to play anymore unless you create a new set-up, which will start you back at 200 chips.

Difficulty switches adjust the game in many ways. The left difficulty switch, if placed to “A,” will shuffle the cards after dealing 2/3 of the cards that are in the deck. Else, it will shuffle after every hand. The right difficulty switch change some of the rules of blackjack

On A position, you have the Casino Black Jack Rules:

  • Computer dealer must hit a soft 17 or less
  • Computer dealer must stay on a hard 17 (Aces = 1 point)
  • Your score is not affected by tie games between the dealer and you
  • If your hand equals 10 or 11 points, you may double your bet BEFORE the first hit. You must take one hit, and only one hit is allowed
  • A player is allowed four hits

On B position, you have the private black jack rules.

  • Computer dealers must stay on 17 or more points
  • All tie games are won by the computer dealer
  • You may double your bet on any combination of cards BEFORE the first hit. You must take one hit, and only one hit is allowed
  • A player automatically wins the game when he hits four times without busting

Blackjack Playthrough

The original Blackjack room is used for this run. The goal is to get 1000 chips and break the bank. Some luck manipulation was performed, but some hand was taken as is.

The Private Black Jack Rules were used for this run. Since there are only minor differences and the player doesn’t lose in the run, the Casino Black Jack rules variation is not shown.

TAS tools are used to make a high-quality gameplay video.

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