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Blackjack Rules – An Easy 5 Minute Guide

If you want to enjoy a casino game that has the potential to give you some pretty decent payouts, then you should try your hand at blackjack. This is a game that is enjoyed by many people all over the world, and it can be pretty simple to learn how to play.

However, there are some blackjack rules that vary from one version of the game to the next, so it’s important that you understand them before hitting the casino floor.

Here is a comprehensive look at the complete rules of blackjack. You’ll learn what all the blackjack terms mean, how to take each action, and what the implications are.

Objective

The goal of blackjack is to get as close to 21 without going over. You always play against the dealer, not against other players. Whoever has the hand closest to 21 at the end of the game wins.

Betting

Before the game begins, each player will need to place a bet. Each table will have a minimum and maximum stake, which will be displayed on the table itself. Each bet must be between these amounts.

If you are playing a multi-hand table, you may play more than one hand at once. You may bet a different amount on each hand if you wish, providing each bet is within the table limits.

Deal

Once all of the bets have been made, the dealer will deal out two cards to each player and two to him/herself. One of the dealer’s cards will be face up so that everyone can see it, but the other will be face down.

Your cards will be dealt face up so that they are visible to you and anyone else at the table.

Card Values

  • All of the face cards (kings, queens, and jacks) are worth 10 points.
  • An ace can be worth either 1 point or 11 points.
  • All of the other cards are worth their numerical value.

The ace takes whichever value helps you reach 21 without going over. You are not required to specify which value you want to use. The dealer (or online blackjack software) will automatically assign you the most beneficial value, and this can be changed after you hit (if you decide to).

Play

After all cards are dealt, play begins with the hand in the position furthest right (from the player’s perspective).

Play then proceeds clockwise around the table.

Each player must wait until the hand to their right has finished play (either by getting 21, choosing to stand, or going bust) before they can take their turn.

Options

When it comes to your turn, you will have a variety of options of how to play your hand. The rules, implications and procedure for each option are as follows:

Blackjack

If your first two cards are an Ace and a 10, you have a Blackjack and will be paid out immediately unless the dealer also has a Blackjack. In this case, it is a “push” or “draw” and your bet is returned to you.

Hit

Take another card from the dealer. You can hit as many times as you like, and on any score that you like, but if you go over 21 then you will “bust” and automatically lose your bet.

When playing online blackjack, you would tap or click the Hit button. When playing at a real world casino, you would tap the table in front of you to indicate your decision to the dealer (and security cameras).

Stand

Stick with your current hand. You can stand on any score you like, but normally you would not do so when your score is 11 or less, as it would be impossible to go bust by taking another card.

Once you stand, play passes to the next player.

Tap or click the Stand button when playing blackjack online. Move your hand horizontally in front of you when playing at a real world casino.

Split

If your first two cards have the same numerical value, you may choose to split them into two separate hands. You must match your original bet on each hand.

For example, if you are dealt a pair of 7s and you have bet $10, you would put another $10 down and play two separate hands with a bet of $10 each.

If you are playing online blackjack, tap or click the Split button if you want to split your hand. This button will only become active if you have two cards of the same value. At a physical blackjack table, place an equal stake adjacent to your original stake to indicate that you want to split.

Once you have split, the dealer will separate your cards and deal one more card onto each hand. You would then play each hand one after the other, hitting and standing as desired.

If you split aces, you will usually only be dealt one more card on each hand before having to stand.

Some casinos allow you to hit on a split ace, which will decrease the house edge by 0.19%.

Note that some tables do not allow you to double after splitting, although this is rare. If in doubt, check the table rules before you start to play.

Re-Split

If you are dealt a second pair of cards with the same numerical value as your first (i.e. you have split and then been dealt another pair), some casinos will allow you to re-split, effectively giving you four separate hands.

The option to re-split decreases the house edge by 0.10%. The procedure to do this is the same as for the first split.

Not all casinos offer this option, so check the table rules before you start playing if you want to take advantage of this.

Double Down

If you are dealt a score of 9, 10, or 11, you may choose to “double down.” This means that you can double your original bet and receive one more card before having to stand.

For example, if you have bet $10 and are dealt a 10, you can put down another $10 and receive one more card. You would then stand on whatever score you were dealt.

Some casinos will allow you to double down on any score, while others restrict it to 9, 10, and 11 only. You should always check the house rules before playing.

The option to double on any cards decreases the house edge by 0.23%.

In online blackjack, you would tap or click the Double button. If playing at a real world casino, you would put out an additional bet and then tap the table.

Surrender

In some casinos, you will be able to “surrender” half of your bet if you do not like your hand. This means that you give up half of your original bet and automatically lose the hand.

For example, if you have bet $10 and are dealt a 16, you may surrender and give up half of your bet, so that you only lose $5 instead of the full $10.

This option is not available in all casinos, and some will only offer it on certain hands (usually when you have a score of 16 and the dealer is showing a 9, 10, or Ace). You should always check the house rules before playing.

In online blackjack, you would tap or click the Surrender button. If playing at a real world casino, you would wave your hand over your cards to indicate that you are surrendering.

Dealer Actions

Once all player hands have been completed, it is then the dealer’s turn to play. The dealer does not get to decide how to play – they will always follow a set of rules when playing their hand.

These rules do not change from one casino to another and are usually printed on the blackjack table.

The most common dealer rule is that they must hit on a score of 16 or less and stand on a score of 17 or more.

Some dealer will also hit on a “soft” 17, which is a score of17 that includes an Ace counting as 11. Hitting on a soft 17 decreases the house edge slightly, so it is advisable to find a table that uses this rule if possible.

If the dealer goes over 21, this is known as a “bust” and all players who are still in the hand will automatically win.

Winning and Losing

If your final score is higher than the dealer’s, or if the dealer busts, you will win your bet. If your score is lower than the dealer’s, or if you bust, you will lose your bet.

If your score is the same as the dealer’s, this is known as a “push” and your bet will be returned to you.

Blackjack payouts are usually 1.5:1 or 3:2. This means that if you bet $10 and win, you will receive a payout of $15 (1.5 x $10). If you are paid at 3:2 and bet $10, you will receive a payout of $15 (3 x $10/2).

Some casinos have different payouts for certain hands, such as a blackjack (an Ace and any 10-valued card). These payouts are usually listed on the blackjack table.

Side Bets

Most blackjack games will also offer “side bets” which are optional bets that can be made in addition to your main bet. These side bets usually have much higher payouts than the main game, but they also have a much higher house edge.

As such, side bets are generally not advisable as they offer very poor value for money. However, if you are looking for some excitement and are willing to gamble, then side bets can be a fun addition to the game.

Next Steps

Now that you know the complete rules of blackjack, it’s time to try it out for yourself. There are several casinos that offer free blackjack games, so you can get used to the way the game works without any risk.

I would recommend you spend some time playing for fun before you then go on to learn basic strategy. This is a basic set of rules that you can follow which will bring the house edge down, and give you the best chance of winning.

Once you’re comfortable with each blackjack rule and have a good grasp of basic strategy, you can then find a real money online blackjack game and start playing for real.

Last Updated on September 9, 2022

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Posted in Rules & How to Play

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