Blackjack is a gambling card game in which players try to acquire cards with a face value of 21 and no more.
Welcome to the game of blackjack. Before you play blackjack online, make sure you read and understand the blackjack rules. Blackjack is a well known casino game and enjoyed by many due to it offering the most player control over the game. You can also improve your blackjack playing odds and experience by reading through our blackjack strategy and blackjack tips section following the blackjack rules information below.
To play the game effectively you must know and have an understanding of the following:
- How to play blackjack
- Card Values according to Blackjack rules
- Soft Hands vs Hard Hands
- Basic Blackjack rules options when playing out the hand
How to play blackjack
The goal of a blackjack player is to end up with a total higher than the dealer's cards without exceeding 21. If you or the dealer go over 21 you will go "BUST" and lose the hand. Many refer to this as "bust" or "too many". In the game of blackjack you only play against the dealer and no one else.
Starting a blackjack game, you lay your bets out in front of you before the dealer starts dealing the cards. The dealer will then deal the cards to where your bets are placed. There are normally marked drawings on the blackjack table cloth (known as felt) to indicate where to place your bets and where the blackjack dealer must place your cards.
Once all bets are placed, the blackjack dealer will deal each player 2 cards, one at a time, starting from his left. Thereafter he will deal himself 2 cards, one facing up and once facing down. The final round of cards will then be dealt based on the blackjack players decision. And this decision is based on what you have in front of you and what the blackjack dealer has in front of him. ie. His one card facing up.
In the next phase, the blackjack dealer will start on his left and ask each player to make a decision as to what the player wants to do in order to achieve 21 or to get as close to 21 as possible. Each playing hand will have the following options:
- Hit: To draw another card from the blackjack dealers deck.
- Stand: To not draw another cards and the blackjack dealer moves to the next playing hand.
- Split: This option is available when you have 2 of the same card values. eg. 9 & 9. When split, each nine will be considered a hand on its own and the player can play it out as he would a normal hand.
- Double down: When you double your bet before the dealer hands you an additional card, but he only gives you one additional card and moves to the next playing hand. It is advised that you double down on 8, 9, 10 or 11 only.
Once all players have played their hands, the blackjack dealer will then turn over his card facing down and play out his hand. Each blackjack table has rules to prevent the blackjack dealer from making his own decisions. These rules are normally printed on the table itself or there will be notices standing on the table indicating the rules of the blackjack table. The most important of these rules is when the dealer must "stand". It is normally printed in large print on the felt (blackjack table cloth) and commonly reads like this: "The Dealer Must Stand On All 17's."
Blackjack card values
- Ace = 1 OR 11
- 2 to 9 = face value
- 10's & Face cards = 10
BLACKJACK (a NATURAL, a Natural 21) is a two card hand consisting of an Ace and a card with the value 10.
A "Natural" blackjack beats a 3 card hand with the value of 21 (a total 21).
Blackjack Soft Hands vs Hard Hands
The blackjack rules state that an "ace" can have a value of 1 or 11. when you have an ace in your hand the risk of busting is reduced. A "soft hand" is when you choose for your ace to have a value of 1. It is the players decision to count his ace as a 1 or 11 and can switch back and forth as the cards are dealt.
Soft hand example:
Cards dealt: 9 & Ace = 10 or 20
When you have no choice to vary an ace from 1 or 11. You have a "hard hand".
Hard hand example:
Cards dealt: 8 & 7 & Ace = 16 or 26 (26 being bust)
In the above example you can only have the ace as a 1 or you will go bust, thus making it a hard hand. Drawing an additional card will either put you close to 21 or bust you. Use the blackjack strategy chart to help you decide on what is best to do in this situation.
Basic Blackjack rules options when playing out the hand
Receive another card from the dealer.
Receive no more cards to your hand and stop at the current hand total; this is the value that is to compete with the one of the dealer's hand.
When the player gets a matching pair of cards he can divide this pair into two separate hands. In this case, another wager of the same cost as the initial bet should be placed adjacent to the original stack of chips, the dealer then splits the hand into two separate hands. The perfect advice is to always split a pair of aces and pairs of 8's. For more advice on when to split consult the blackjack chart.
If the player considers his hand to be stronger than the dealer's hand, he always has the chance to double his initial bet size - called a double down. When you Double Down the dealer gives you only one more card. Blackjack rules limit the Doubling Down option, as it can only be done with the initial two card hand, before you are dealt additional cards.
The insurance is offered in case the dealer's face up card is an Ace. According to Blackjack rules it usually (but not obligatory) costs half of your initial bet, and "protects" you in case the "hole card" (dealers card facing down) is a ten. In such case the dealer has a Natural, and the player loses the initial bet, but receives the insurance in the amount of 2-to-1). The Dealer checks his second card (the HOLE) and in case it is a ten, the insurance is paid out. If the dealer does not have a natural, you lose the insurance, and play the initial bet.
In case the player has a blackjack, and the dealer's face up card is an ace, the player is usually offered "even money", instead of the insurance. In case the dealer has a blackjack, instead of a push (in Blackjack rules also called a tie, a case when your hand equals dealer's hand (except for the cases if one hand is a Blackjack and another is simply a 21 Total), and the player then receives the initial bet back)), the player receives an "even money bonus" (which is in fact an insurance with a small specification), which is a half of the initial bet.
The option of Surrender is not offered in many casinos. It provides the player a chance to fold his hand at the cost of half of the original bet. In Blackjack rules it is stated that the decision to surrender must be taken PRIOR to playing the hand in any way. E.g. once you split, hit, double down, this option is no longer available.
The Blackjack rules provide two different kinds of surrender, EARLY and LATE.
Early surrender gives the player an opportunity to fold his hand before the dealer checks the hole for a blackjack. However, this version is rarely offered, because it gives a heavy advantage to the player.
Late surrender, is more commonly met. In this variant of Blackjack rules, the dealer checks the hole card for a blackjack and after and only if he does not have a blackjack, he allows the players to surrender.