How To Play Blackjack

Blackjack is the world’s most popular casino table game and is unique in that it offers a distinct advantage to the player in comparison to other casino games. The object of blackjack is to get as close to a total of 21 as possible without going over and while having a higher hand than the dealer. If you go over 21 you lose, if the dealer goes over 21 they lose, if no one goes over you win as long as your hand total is higher than that of the dealer’s.

While casino blackjack is a very easy game to learn, mastering the correct strategy for the game is a task that takes dedication and practice. After you learn the fundamentals of playing blackjack, you’ll want to memorize basic strategy to give yourself the best advantage every time you sit down at the tables or in front of your computer. Below we have provided you a summary of Blackjack including the basic functions of the game as well as some tips for playing.

Play Blackjack

Blackjack is comprised of a delicate balance between both the players at the table and the dealer they are trying to beat. In blackjack the dealer’s cards mean everything since using proper blackjack strategy will literally dictate how you will act as the player. Because of this it once again becomes very important to consider strategy, but first let’s take a look at how a typical casino blackjack game would run from start to finish with a table of players.

Finding the Right Online Casino

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The Shuffle & Deal

The game of blackjack can be played with as little as 1 and as many as 6 players at a time and is played at a table with the players on one end and the dealer on the other. The game uses a standard deck of 52 playing cards however almost all blackjack games incorporate between 6-8 decks these days both to hinder card counters as well as ensure randomness while playing the game. The value of the cards in blackjack are taken at face value for cards 1 through 10, face cards J,Q,K have a value of 10 as well. Aces have a value of either 1 or 11 meaning that if you had 6 and Ace you would have 7 or 17 and could hit again if you wish. When you approach a blackjack table all you need to do to begin playing is find an open seat and buy some chips from the dealer. You will then be allowed to place your bet on the next hand with an amount that falls between the tables minimum and maximum betting limits.

blackjack shuffle

After all of the players have placed their wagers, the dealer will bring their hand across the table in a semi-circle which signals that bets are closed for that round. He or she will then proceed to deal the cards to the player from what is known as a shoe (plastic holding or mechanical shuffling device where cards are stored until they are dealt). Every player in the game will be dealt two cards face up and the dealer will give themselves two cards one face down (known as the hole card) and one face up (known as the up card). At this point in the game it is the players turn to act and they must make one of a few decisions regarding how they are going to play their hand which they must signal to the blackjack dealer.

Player Decisions

Hit – When a player requests a hit it simply means that they would like to add another card to their hand and it is signalled by taping the table in front of your hand. Remember that the object of blackjack is to get as close to 21 as possible so if you were dealt a 5 and a 4 for  a total of 9, you would definitely want to hit since there is no way you can go over 21 and can only improve your hand. On the other hand if you were dealt a 10 and a 6 for a total of 16, you may choose to hit depending on what the dealers up card is according to strategy.

Blackjack Strategy

Stand – A stand or standing in blackjack is the opposite of a hit and this command means the player would not like anymore cards added to their hand and is happy with their point total. To signal a hit the player must wave their hand over their bet to signal to the dealer that they do not wish the receive anymore cards. Once you have decided to stand on your hand the dealer will put the action on the next player to the left of you until all players have made their decisions and it is the dealers turn to act according to the blackjack dealer rules.

Double – In most blackjack games, players are allowed to take what is known as a double where they will put an amount equal to their first bet beside the original wager in exchange for one more card from the shoe. When you double, you must take the card given to you and you will have to stand and may not hit again. Although this may sound like a bad decision, doubling is actually quite profitable when done against weak dealer hands such as 16 when you have a hand total of say 11, since your chances of winning the bet are increased dramatically. For example say you bet $150 on a hand and were dealt a 5 and a 6 for a total of 11 and the dealer’s up card was a 5, commonly known as a bust card. In this case you would want to double to $300 with the hopes of hitting a 10 and winning the bet.

Split – Another popular move for the player is what is called a split, essentially splitting the two cards you are dealt from the deal into two separate hands that will be played independently. In order to split, you must have been dealt two cards of the same value, for example 2,2 – 5,5 – K,K – 10,10 and so on. Some casinos allow for splits of mixed faced cards or face cards and 10’s because they have the same value in the game. To split, the player places another wager equal to their first bet beside the original wager and the dealer will then split the cards into two hands. The player will then receive a card on each hand and will proceed to play them normally with all available options (hit, stand, double) until such time that they are either satisfied with their total or possibly have busted their hand.

Surrender – Some variations of  blackjack allow the player to surrender their hand which they may do if they think they have a high chance of losing against the dealer, for example if the dealer’s up card was a 10 and you had a current total of 16 you may opt to surrender. When you surrender, your hand will be discarded from that round and you will receive exactly 1/2 of your bet back as compensation for not continuing on with the hand in play.

Insurance – The last major decision that players can make during play is taking what is called Insurance which becomes available if the dealer’s up card is an ace. An insurance bet is betting on the outcome of the dealer having a hole card of a 10 or face card meaning they would have blackjack. To take an insurance bet you must place 1/2 of your wager in the insurance box, if the dealer does have blackjack and you take insurance, you will lose your original wager but be paid 2:1 on the insurance bet so you will actually break even. If the dealer has an ace up and you do not take the insurance bet and the dealer does turn over a blackjack, you will lose the original wager before the round begins. If both you and the dealer have blackjack, you will push unless you took insurance and would win on that.

Even Money – If you have received 21 on the deal and the dealer’s up card is an ace, you can opt to take even money before they offer insurance and check to see if they also have 21. If you take even money, you will be paid 1:1 for your blackjack whereas normally you would be paid 3:2 for a blackjack, but since the dealer’s up card is an ace you may want to take the even money payout because if you don’t and they have 21, the hand will push.

Rules For The Dealer


Now that we know the rules and decisions a player can make, let’s take a look at the dealer in a blackjack game and how they must act during each round. It’s important to note that the dealer is always the last to act in the game and will always play once all of the players at the table have made their decisions. This is important because it does affect how the overall house edge influences the game since the player must always act before the dealer and runs the chance of busting the hand. Aside from that downfall in the rules, the dealer must act in a very strict manner during play which we’ve outlined below for your benefit.

Hitting – The dealer must always  take a hit on any combination up to a total of 17, meaning if the dealer was dealt a 10 and a 5 for 15, they have to take another card.

* Some casinos have a rule where the dealer must hit soft 17, meaning if they get a 6 and an ace that they must take another card. This is always denoted on the table if it’s in play.

Standing – The dealer must stand with 17 or above, so once they reach any total of 17 or higher they are not allowed to hit again and must stand with the present total they have.

Doubling, Splitting – The dealer in blackjack is not allowed to use either of these moves during play and must play their hand straight up with no doubling or splitting allowed.