How To Play Blackjack

Blackjack is by far one of the most popular casino card games because it allows knowledgeable players a chance to earn winnings much easier than a game of chance would allow. With just a basic knowledge of how the game of blackjack works and the systems and strategies that gives you an advantage, you can make your casino bankroll last a lot longer than you could playing roulette or baccarat. Blackjack has been prominently featured in movies, such as 21, where most of the winning strategies involve counting cards, which can get you kicked out of a casino. However, even if you aren’t counting cards, as long as you are patient and play smart, you can still get a leg up on the house and win some serious money. If you are interested in the historical context of Blackjack, read here.

Blackjack is played against the dealer, who also has a hand of his own. The dealer opens the game by dealing two cards to everyone. A player examines his cards to decide if he wants to hit, split, stand or double down. Though there are several players at a table each one is playing the dealer individually. The object of Blackjack is to beat the dealer total without going over a total of 21.

Blackjack Rules

The cards are counted and totaled as follows:

  • 1-10 are worth the number on the card
  • J, Q, K are worth 10
  • A is worth 1 or 11

There are 7 options you have once you are dealt your cards in blackjack. You can:

  • Blackjack! - This means you got an ace with a 10, jack, queen or king. Normally it pays 3-2 but this can vary depending on casino, type of game and number of decks used. This is an automatic win unless the dealer also has a blackjack which means you tie or push and you do not win or lose your bet.
  • Hit - This means you want another card and commonly this is done by a hand gesture. You may also say "Hit me". If you hit and go over 21("bust"), you turn your cards up and your bet is lost.
  • Stand - This is when you do not want any more cards. You indicate this by sliding you cards underneath your bet.
  • Double Down - This means you can double you wager on your first two cards and receive only one more to improve your hand. The total of your first two cards you are allowed to double down on varies from casino to casino.
  • Split - If your first two cards are pairs, you may split them and play two hands by placing a second bet equal to your first on the table. Most casinos allow you to double down after you split and the same rules apply from above. You may hit as many time as you want on either hand after a split. If you go over 21 you "bust" and lose your wager on the busted hand only.
  • Insurance - If the dealer's up card is an ace, he will ask if you want insurance. For insurance, the player can bet up to half his original bet. If the dealer has blackjack, the insurance pays 2-1. If not, the player loses his insurance bet only and play continues as normal.
  • Surrender - This is not allowed at every casino. A player can decide to surrender a hand and lose half his bet but only on his first two cards.

Blackjack is fun and usually played at a faster pace than most casino games. There is a basic strategy to Blackjack based on mathematical probabilities. This basic strategy reduces the house edge in blackjack making it the most popular game in the casino.