Blackjack involves one of the more scientific forms of gambling. The main objective is to beat the dealer without going over 21, and the odds of winning are pretty good. It is one of the more popular casino games because the rules are simple, and the house doesn’t always win. Keep reading to learn how to play blackjack and master a few number-crunching strategies.
The Winning Hand
The ultimate aim of the game is to beat the dealer. The hand that is closest to 21 wins. The one who goes over 21 loses or “busts”. You also win if the value of your hand is 21 on the first draw, as long as the dealer doesn’t have 21. If both the player and the dealer hit 21, neither wins, but you don’t lose your bet. This is called a “push”.
Despite the fact that everyone at the table is playing against the dealer, this isn’t a team effort. Other players have nothing to do with your hand and don’t influence your game.
Blackjack is a game played with a regular 52-card deck, where all the face cards (J, Q, K) count as ten, the ace counts as either one or eleven, and the rest are worth their face value. For example, a Q and a 5 make 15 because the Queen is counted as 10. If we have an ace and a 5, it can be counted as 6 or 16 because the ace can be one or eleven, depending on which value keeps the player’s hand from going over 21.
How to Play Blackjack at a Casino
The precise blackjack rules depend on the variant of the game being played. Most online blackjack casinos offer Classic Blackjack, European Blackjack, and Face Up 21.
The number of decks being used also varies from table to table, even in the same casino. At blackjack games, dealers use a card dispensing device called a “shoe”, which usually holds six to eight decks. Tables can typically have anywhere from two to seven players, and there are different bet limits that are outlined on the felt. Make sure you know the betting rules and limits before taking a seat at the table.
Below are the main ingredients of your average blackjack game:
You can buy chips at the casino cage or at the table. The latter only expects cash. You do this by approaching the table with the free spot and placing the money on the felt. Do not hand the money to the dealer.
The dealer will take your money and lay it on the table so that the camera can see it clearly, and the pit boss will come over to verify the transaction in person. Once the cash is counted, the dealer will push the chips towards you, and from that point on, you can join in.
The first thing you do at the start of a blackjack card game round is place a bet. There is always a designated betting spot on the table. At the corner of the table, you can see the betting limits. These vary from casino to casino and also depend on the location of the establishment.
Dealing the Cards
When everyone places their bets, the dealer starts dealing the cards clockwise. One card goes face up to each player at the table, and then one card for the dealer that goes face down. Then it starts again, and another face-up card is given to everyone at the table, including the dealer.
In a blackjack card game, the dealer starts with the player on his left and waits for all of the players to take their turn. The dealer hands out cards in accordance with the moves the players choose to play. The players typically have a choice between five different moves: stand, hit, double down, split, or surrender. Each call has a hand signal because the camera needs to see what you are playing. While luck definitely plays a large part in any blackjack game, the move a player goes for at any given time – i.e. the blackjack strategy he or she uses – is what separates newbies from successful players.
If you didn’t get blackjack, but you’re still satisfied with your hand, you can choose to stand, and the dealer will move on to the next player.
Hand signal: Open palm hand waving or just put your open hand onto the table.
If you want more cards to try to improve your hand, signal the dealer to give you a card. They will deal until you decide to stand or you bust – go over 21.
Hand signal: Tap the table with your finger.
If you have a good hand but still want an additional card, you can double down your wager and be dealt only one additional card. The dealer will place the card sideways, indicating that you can’t get additional cards.
Hands signal: Match your initial wager and place it to the left of your original bet.
If you are dealt two cards with the same value, you can choose to split them to create two separate stacks with separate wagers. This also applies to all face cards since they all have the same value of 10.
Hand signal: Place the second wager to the left and show a “peace sign” pointing to the wagers. The dealer will split your initial cards and give you two additional cards until you have two on each hand.
If the hand is terrible from the start, you have an option of giving up in exchange for half of your original bet.
Hand signal: Draw a line behind your bet. Inexperienced dealers commonly mistake this sign for a hit, so it is prudent to verbalize your intent and then make the sign.
It all boils down to what cards you and the dealer have. Thanks to blackjack dealer rules, dealers have the upper hand since they are the last to play, and you can only see one of their cards. You lose your wager if you bust before the dealer.
We won’t go into too much detail here since there are many different strategies depending on the blackjack casino rules. But there are a few universal considerations when plotting your next move.
- Surrender: In most cases, you can only surrender before you do anything with your hand, so naturally, this is the first option to consider.
- Split: You can only split if you have two of the same value cards. It makes sense to split a pair of aces because one has a value of 1, and the other has a value of 11.
- Double Down: You won’t always be dealt a good hand, but when you get one, make sure to double down. That is why some casinos restrict doubling, so it’s not always possible. Check the rules before joining a game.
- Stand or Hit: If you have a hand with a value of 13 or higher, it’s common practice to stand. If you have eight or below, you should hit if the dealer’s card is weak.
After everyone plays their hand, it’s the dealer’s turn, and unlike the players, the dealers don’t have much control over the way they play. The dealer can’t double, split, or surrender their hand the way the players can.
In most casinos, one basic blackjack dealer rule requires the dealer to hit at 16 and stand at 17. But that’s not always the case, and some dealers may hit on soft 17. If the dealer hits on soft 17, your odds of winning are lowered.
Any card combination that contains an ace can be considered a soft hand. For example, if the dealer is holding an ace and a six, that is considered a soft 17. If the blackjack dealer rule states that they have to hit on soft 17s, they’ll continue hitting until they reach a hard 17 or bust. If the rule states that they stand on all 17s, they’ll stand as soon as they reach a value of 17.
If the dealer busts, the players who are still in the game automatically win. If both the players and the dealer played their hands and nobody busts, the one that’s closest to 21 wins. If that happens to be the dealer, the wager is swept, and if one of the players emerges with a higher number, the wager is paid out, and a new round begins.
Many blackjack games have side bets, and the most common among them is insurance.
Whenever the dealer has an ace as a face-up card, they’ll start a side bet on whether or not they have a blackjack. You can bet up to half of your wager on it. The dealer will check if they have a blackjack using a special window on the table, and the wager will be paid out or collected before the game proceeds further.
If you get a blackjack on the first draw, but the dealer has an ace showing, you’ll be offered “even money” instead of insurance. You can bet only half of the amount of your initial wager but will only get a 2 to 1 payout instead of the regular 3 to 2.
The odds depend on the blackjack variant you choose. Some casinos offer spinoffs, such as Double Exposure and Spanish 21. It’s all blackjack in the end, but with Double Exposure, all of the dealer’s cards are dealt face-up, and with Spanish 21, the house edge drops to a mere 0.40%.
The rules also vary on how often you can split or double down, how many decks are used and how often the cards are reshuffled. Even though the reshuffling serves to prevent card counting, it affects your odds.
After reading this guide, you should know how to play blackjack. The game’s popularity centers around its simplicity and the high odds of winning, which are greater than those that players get with baccarat and other casino games. There are plenty of sites that offer blackjack games. Once you’ve had enough practice and have learned the rules by heart, you can head online and test your luck.
What are the basic rules of playing blackjack?
The game begins when the wagers are added to the table, and the dealer hands out two upcards to each player. The dealers get one facedown card and one upcard. Each player has a turn and can choose to stand, hit, double down, split, or surrender. The dealer is the last to play out his hand. The winning hand is the one that is stronger than the dealer’s or closest to 21.
Is 21 and Blackjack the same?
It is the same game with the same rules and payouts.
How do you win at Blackjack?
The main objective is to beat the dealer by getting as close as possible to 21 without exceeding that number. You can win if the dealer busts (exceeds 21) or by being dealt a blackjack as long as the dealer doesn’t have one.