How to Play Blackjack

Blackjack is the most popular table game. It involves a great degree of skill, especially compared to games like roulette or baccarat, where luck is the predominate factor. The object of the game is to get as close to 21 as possible and beat the dealer.

A blackjack hand starts with a player making a wager. At a live table, the player must throw cash down on the table and exchange them for chips. Online blackjack app and casino players may need to add chips to the table to start the action.

The player places a wager in the circle on the table. Some casinos will allow players to play more than one hand. Once bets are made, all players are dealt two cards. Most blackjack games will deal the players’ cards face up on the table. Some live single and double deck games will deal the players’ cards down on the table.

If the dealer has a ten-value card up, he will check for blackjack before doing anything. If there is an ace up, the dealer will ask players if they would like insurance. This pays 2-1 if the dealer has a blackjack. In either case, if the dealer has a natural blackjack – an ace and a ten-value card – the hand is over. Any player with a blackjack pushes. All players that took insurance receive 2-1 on that bet. All other wagers lose. If the dealer does not have blackjack, insurance bets are collected and the hand continues.

Players now have several options:

Hit: A player that would like an additional card may hit. This may be done in a live game by tapping the table. Players may hit until the hand totals higher than 21. If a card that makes the hand total more than 21 is hit, the player automatically loses.

Stand: A player that is satisfied with his hand total may stand, meaning no more cards are drawn.

Double Down: A player may double his wager and take just one card. That card must be kept and no more cards may be drawn.

Split: Any pair may be split. Most houses will also allow players to split any two cards that have a 10 value. We do not recommend this as it is better to stay on a 20 in virtually all scenarios. Many games will allow a player to double down after splitting. This is important. We advise players to check the rules of the table as it can change which hands should be split.

Surrender: A player may give the house half of the original wager and fold. This should be done with 15 versus an ace or ten, 16 versus a 9, 10, or ace, or 17 against an ace if the house hits a soft 17.

If you would like to find out when to use each option, read our blackjack strategy article.

Once all players have acted, the dealer will expose his hole card. If the hand is less than 17, the dealer will hit until it is 17 or higher. If it is 17 or more, the house stands. The dealer will hit a soft 17 in most casinos. A soft 17 is where the dealer is playing an ace as a one and cannot bust. If the dealer’s hand is over 21, the house loses and all players still in the hand are paid.

Once the dealer’s hand is resolved, it is compared to all players. If the dealer’s hand is higher than the player’s without busting, the house wins. If the player has a higher total than the dealer, the player wins. If both hands tie, it is a push and no money changes hands.

 Now that you know the rules, ready to play blackjack? Play our free blackjack game now!