Do you want to learn how to play blackjack? A favorite in casinos from Las Vegas to Macau, blackjack is one of the most popular card games in the world. The object of the game is simple: score nearer to 21 than the dealer without scoring above 21.
While the basics of blackjack are remarkably simple, the game has numerous rules and subtleties that make it enjoyable to play. In this blog post, you’ll learn blackjack rules and strategies to help you increase your success rate the next time you play.
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The basics of blackjack
The objective of blackjack is simple: the player needs to achieve a hand closer to 21 than the dealer’s hand. If the player’s hand exceeds 21, they’re bust and the hand is lost. If the dealer’s hand exceeds 21, they’re bust and the player wins the hand.
Some casinos refer to blackjack as 21. Blackjack also shares its name with a British card game called Black Jack, which has completely different rules. The space means a lot – make sure you don’t include it when you’re searching for blackjack online.
Although the rules of blackjack vary from one casino to another, every variation of blackjack uses some common rules. The game is always played with a standard 52 card deck. Most casinos mix several decks together for a faster, smoother game.
Standard blackjack tables allow eight players to play against the dealer at the same time. In a casino, there is usually a variety of blackjack tables with different betting limits.
The standard rules of blackjack are that blackjack hands (hands consisting of a 10-value card and an ace) pay three to two, and that the dealer will continue drawing cards up until their score is 17, and stand on any hand worth more than 17 points.
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The value of cards
In blackjack, all cards from 2 to 10 keep their face value. The jack, queen and king are all worth 10 points. In blackjack, the ace is a special card – its value is either 1 point or 11 points, depending on your wishes.
The rules of blackjack
Blackjack starts when the dealer begins dealing cards for the players. The dealer and the players will all receive two cards at the start of the game. The dealer’s cards will be split – one facing up and one facing down – while the player’s will both face up.
At this point, several things can happen. If one of the players has blackjack – a hand made up of a 10-point card (such as a 10, jack, queen or king – and an ace, they are automatically victorious unless the dealer also has a blackjack.
If the dealer has blackjack, all players that don’t have blackjack lose the hand. If no players have blackjack, the game continues as normal, with players taking action in the next hands and deciding if they want to hit or stand.
The objective of blackjack is to score as close to 21 as possible without exceeding a score of 21. Remember that you aren’t playing against the other players – the only opponent in a blackjack game is the dealer.
Once you’ve been dealt your cards, you have two choices. You can hit and receive a new card from the deck. This card’s value is added to your hand; for example, if you have a 2 and 7 and receive a 6, your hand is worth 15 points.
If your hand is at the right value, you can stand. This means you will keep your hand as it currently is and lose the ability to take more cards. At this point, play moves on to the next player in the game.
After all players have taken their turn, it’s the dealers turn. The dealers turns over their second card. As stated earlier, if the dealer is revealed to have a blackjack, all players that don’t also have blackjack will lose the hand.
If the player doesn’t have a blackjack, he will either hit or stand. The standard rule in almost all casinos is that the dealer must continue hitting until their hand is worth at least 17 points, and must stand on all hands worth 17 points or more.
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Winners and losers
If your score exceeds 21, you’re bust and the dealer wins the hand. If the dealer’s score exceeds 21, they’re bust and you win the hand. If neither you nor the dealer are bust, whoever’s hand has the highest value is the winner.
Once you win a hand, you’re paid back your bet plus your winnings. Since almost all casinos use a 3:2 payment for blackjack hands, players that win with blackjack earn a 50% bonus on top of their original bet’s winnings.
Since blackjack is only played against the dealer, it’s possible to boost your chance of victory using a mathematical formula called basic strategy. Learn blackjack strategy tactics to increase your success rate in our blog post on blackjack strategy.
Extra blackjack rules
While the above rules are the basics of blackjack, there are several additional rules that make the game more complex and interesting. These include insurance, double down, splitting a hand and surrendering.
Let’s start with insurance. If the dealer’s first card is an ace, the probability of them having blackjack is relatively high. In this situation, you can purchase insurance to cancel out the potential loss of your original bet.
Insurance isn’t free – you’ll need to match your additional bet. Most of the time, it’s more cost effective to turn down insurance and risk your bet, since a winning hand with insurance will only be paid out at 2:1 odds.
Splitting is when you split a hand of two cards with an equal value into two different hands. This way, you can play two hands at once and place a second bet that’s equal to your original bet on the second hand.
There are numerous additional rules to splitting hands – if you split aces, you can only receive one additional card per hand. Also, you won’t receive any bonus if one of your split aces receives a 10-point card, which usually grants a blackjack bonus.
Surrendering is when you lack confidence in your hand relative to the dealer’s first card. If you surrender, you’ll receive half your bet back. Most of the time, you can’t surrender if the dealer has been dealt a blackjack.
Finally, doubling down is a special rule that lets you double your original bet. If you are very confident in your hand, you can double your bet and keep playing. This is a good idea if your hand is worth 9, 10 or 11 points and will likely beat the dealer’s.
Blackjack is a challenging game, but it’s also an exploitable one. If you can keep track of the cards that have been dealt using card counting, you can beat the odds and win hand after hand.
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