As soon as Blackjack was introduced to the general public, people fell in love with this game, and maybe only roulette outperforms it in popularity.
Blackjack is one of the most popular casino games and one of a few where you actually should know the rules quite well before sitting down to play.
Learning how to play blackjack is quite easy, yet this game is exceptionally thrilling since your decision at the table actually influences your results.
You probably heard a famous story about how MIT students crushed casinos all over the world using their math skills, so it is evident that this is not just a luck game.
It is not a surprise that Blackjack quickly found its way from brick and mortar casinos to internet sites, where you can find hundreds of places to play and a lot of different variations.
While there are countless options to choose from, not all of it offers the same odds for the players, so it worth going over these options and Blackjack rules to choose what suits you the most.
Even if you have never played Blackjack live or online, you will find everything you need in this article. From how to play blackjack and simple rules to more advanced tips, so make sure to read it through before sitting down to play.
How To Play Blackjack
The first good news is that even if you have never played Blackjack before, it is a fairly easy game to learn, well at least for the basic strategy.
As soon as you place your bet, you are dealt the hand, and the play begins.
The dealer gives every active player one card that is faced up, including himself, and then deals the second faced up card for everyone while keeping his own card faced down.
The goal of this game is to hit 21 points or as close as possible to this amount without going over the top. If you get more than 21 points, you instantly lose the hand.
As for the points, it is also easy to count by assigning a specific value to each card:
- “Ace” is counted as 1 or 11, depending on what is better for the player
- All picture cards are valued at 10 points (Jack, Queen, King)
- Number cards have its nominal value (from 2 to 10)
As soon as the player gets his first two carts he has a couple of options:
- “Hit” – take one more card
- “Stand” – do not take more cards and play your hand with its current value
- “Split” – if you hold two cards of the same rank, you can split it and play as two separate cards. This means you will also need to match your initial bet.
- “Double” – you can double your bet and then will get only one additional card. No matter what your score is after receiving that card, you can’t get more cards and have to play the hand as it is.
- “Surrender” – if you decide to surrender, you instantly lose your hand, but take back half of your initial bet.
You can be “Hitting” and taking new cards till you reach 21 or go over the top and bust the hand.
If you get more than 21 points, the hand is over, and you lose your bet. As soon as every active player finishes their actions, the dealer turns up his second card that was faced down till now and continues the play following strict rules.
If the dealer has 16 points or less, he has to take an additional card and can’t decide to “Stay. “ On the other hand, if the dealer hits 17 or more, he can’t take additional cards no matter what other players are showing.
For example, if the dealer has 18 points while you are holding 19, he can’t take one more card even if he sees he is losing against you, so you automatically win.
- If the dealer has less than 16 points, he has to take an additional card.
- If the dealer has between 17 and 21 points, he compares his hand individually against each player’s hand and decides the winner.
- If the dealer gets over 21 points, every player at the table who did not bust the hand by also going over 21, automatically wins.
So who ends up winning?
- If the dealer has more points at the end of the Blackjack hand, he wins players bet.
- If a player has more points or dealer busts his hand, the player wins double his bet.
- If both the player and the dealer have identical count, it is called the “draw,” and the player takes back his bet
Basic Blackjack Rules
To understand how to play this game, you need to be fully aware of different blackjack rules. We already mentioned the main things in the “How to play blackjack” section, but I want to expand on a couple of essential ideas so that you would better understand it.
If both of your initial cards are of the same rank, you can decide to split it. This means that you will divide your initial cards into two separate hands and play each of them individually by deciding how many cards to take and when to stand.
To make this move, you need to add an additional bet that is equal to your initial one, and since that moment, you began playing each of those hands individually according to main Blackjack rules.
While it is a profitable option in some cases, you need to know that some casinos let you take only one additional card if you are splitting two Aces, so always ask the dealer about that rule if you are not entirely sure before making your decision.
Whenever you get a hand, you have an option to double your bet after seeing your two initial cards.
If you decided to take this option, just as the name suggests, you will have to add an additional bet in the middle and will only get one more card.
No matter what it is, you will not be able to ask for one more card and will have to play the hand as it is.
For example, if you decide to double while holding 10 points after your first cards and get a 3, your total count is 13, and you will play that hand.
This could be a very profitable move when you have a total of 9, 10, or 11 points, and the dealer is showing a small card, which makes him more likely to bust his hand. It improves your overall expectation of winning, so use this option when you are in the right spot.
In some Blackjack variations player has an option to surrender his hand when the dealer is showing 10 point card or an Ace. If you decide to take this option, you will get back half of your bet and will not continue to play that hand. You can see it as an insurance against a good hand of the dealer.
While quite popular, “surrending” your hand is not mathematically correct play, and you should not take this option.
While some Blackjack variations might have additional rules variations, these Blackjack tips will help you to play this game. If you remember these Blackjack rules, you will be ready to try your luck at the table.
But if you want to take it one step further, it surely worth going over Blackjack math and studying strategy to play the game at it’s best.
If you want to increase your odds of winning in Blackjack, make sure to follow these math-based tips.
When you should be splitting
- Always split Aces (AA) and eights (88)
- Never split 10 points valued cards and fours (44)
- Split nines (99), except when the dealer shows Ace, 10 or 7
- Split other cards only if the dealer is showing a higher card than your pair
How to play “Soft” Blackjack hands
Soft hands are called the ones where you have an Ace with your first two cards that could be counted as 1 or 11. In this situation, you never risk going over the top and busting your hand with the next card when you have a “soft” hand.
- 19 or 20 – do not take more cards
- 18 – stay or double your bet if the dealer is displaying a card from two (2) through six (6)
- 14-17 – always take an additional card or double if you have card advantage over the dealer
How to play Blackjack “hard” hands
Opposite to a previously mentioned example, when you do not have an Ace in your hand, it is called a “hard” hand. Here are a few Blackjack tips on how to play “hard” hands based on your point count after two initial cards:
- 17 or more – never take an additional card
- 13 – 16 – take an additional card only if the dealer is showing 7 or higher
- 12 – stay if the dealer has 4, 5 or 6 and hit in all other cases
- 11 – always double
- 10 – double, unless the dealer has ten or Ace. However, if that is the case then take another card
- 9 – double if the dealer has 3 through 6, in other case hit a card
- 8 or lower – always take another card
Playing Blackjack Online
Blackjack originates as a standalone game, but these days you can find plenty of different variations online, so better be prepared for what’s coming.
While knowing basic blackjack rules and how to play the game, you will quickly get the grasp of other formats, it is still worth mentioning the most popular blackjack options that you can find online.
- Classic Blackjack – a standard option that we covered in this article.
- One deck game – as the name suggests, in this version Blackjack is played only with one deck, but as a result, it has some rules that are not very profitable for the player. That being said, this version lets you track cards and count your odds, so it can surely add a lot of excitement to the game.
- Double Exposure Blackjack – the dealer turns up both of his initial cards, but in the event of the draw, the player loses the bet instead of splitting it with the dealer like in a standard version.
There are many other slight variations, but these are the most popular ones, and the standard blackjack game is leading the field by a significant margin.
You learned all you need to know about how to play blackjack and win more often, so you are ready to hit the tables. If you want to try other games or learn some strategies, make sure to check other guides that we have for slots, video poker, and other casino games.