This is a fun and highly interactive group activity involving many variations.
Silent Blackjack Group Game
Everybody at one point in their lives, has played with a deck of playing cards. There are so many games and tricks you can do with a simple deck of cards. Blackjack is a well-known and popular card game, for this activity we are going to be playing a challenging group version of the card game. Observing a real game of Blackjack, you will notice that a player has no control over which cards they are dealt with. The player also doesn’t know the combination value of their hand, but with the group ‘Blackjack activity, things are about to change.
This activity is very simple to put together as you only require a pack of cards. Not only this, there are a variety of activities and exercises you can do, which will keep groups of people occupied for long periods of time. Blackjack is a wonderful group activity that will get people thinking and exercising their ‘brain muscles’.
The first step is to get yourself a deck of playing cards. To each member hand out a random card, which they are not allowed to look at. If a person looks by accident, not a problem, just have them swap with somebody else.
Now, have all of the members of the group hold their cards up and place them on their foreheads. The card can now be seen by everyone in the group except the person holding it. Now comes the challenging bit, ask each member to add up as many “Blackjack” groups as they can so that everybody in the group is involved. The group will then have a certain amount of points, 19, 20 or 21.
Since the regular rules of Blackjack apply here, inform everybody that Aces have a value of 1 or 11, while the Royalty cards and picture cards all have points to the value of 10. All of the other cards will obviously be their own face value. Let everybody have some time to practice and plan their strategy. There should be enough time included in the activity to allow for discussion.
In most cases during this kind of activity, within the first few minutes, about 80 % of participants would have come together to form a successful Blackjack group. The game becomes more difficult integrating the rest of the group (the other 20%). Notice who eventually makes it into the group and who is left out. Was it easy for a group to separate again, for the purpose of creating a more successful group. These specific choices and moments are perfect for discussion and reflection at the end of the game.
You can also add a number of different variations for this activity, for example:
- Surprise Joker: When handing out the cards make sure you include the Joker, which is then a ‘wild card’ This means the Joker can be given any value.
- Plus, and Minus: Have participants gather together in as many groups they can. This variation must involve everybody. The game has everybody adding up or subtracting cards that should equal to 0,1, or 2. For example, Queen – 2 + 7 = 15
- There are many more games and activities using a deck of playing cards, explore Poker Face and Prediction among others.
Step-by-Step Instructions for Silent Blackjack
- Get everybody to create a circle.
- From a deck of cards hand out one card to each member in the circle, informing them not to look at the card given to them.
- Inform everybody that the entire activity is going to be done in silence, there will be no verbal communication.
- Tell everybody to place their card on their foreheads, make sure the card can be seen by everybody else in the circle.
- Everybody now has to come up with as many ‘Blackjacks’ as they can. All in the circle can participate.
- Blackjack: Each member must add up cards, which should then come to 19, 20 or 21.
- All of the regular rules of Blackjack apply to this game as well, the value of an Ace is 1 or 11, the picture cards value is given 10 points.
- Give the group some time so that they can discuss and plan before continuing
- At the end of the activity, allow some time for discussion and reflection.
Facilitating tips for Silent Blackjack
The activity is called Blackjack, but that does not necessarily mean you have to stick to the rules. For example, with Blackjack you have to add up to 21. Accomplishing this is very difficult, so when somebody is playing Blackjack, they can also achieve a score 19 or 20, which would be enough to win the round. This activity can also be used for smaller groups of about 15, you would only need to make sure you hand out one or two Aces.
Questions, tips and reflections for Silent Blackjack
Let’s have a look at some questions, which could be used to help process the groups experience of the challenging activity.
- Was it easy enough to form a Blackjack group?
- Describe the biggest challenges you had during the activity.
- When you became part of a group, what occurred next?
- Was there anyone, that you noticed, that felt left out and why do you think this was so?
- Were you prepared to make a sacrificial choice, so as to improve the chances of the group’s success? How did this make you feel, if this was the case?
- Was your group eventually successful in solving the problem? Discuss your reasons for the groups success or failure.