Are you ready to learn the rules of the most profitable casino game? Well, sit back and enjoy this guide.
Before we start, let us reassure you: Blackjack isn’t hard to learn. It’s really simple. You should be good to go if you understand the risks and know the rules.
In this guide, we will go over all the basic Blackjack rules. We will only cover the rules, not tips and tricks on getting good at the game. So, if you are just starting the game (if it’s your first time playing), you’re in the right place. Otherwise, feel free to check out some of our advanced Blackjack guides.
Short game introdution
Blackjack is a game where players play against the dealer. The cards are given to the player, and the player decides whether or not they want a new card or are happy with what they have. The game’s object is to have a card sum that’s as close to 21 without exceeding it.
Every number card is worth its number value, while Jacks, Queens, and Kings are worth 10 (each is called a “ten-value card”). An Ace is either worth 11 or 1.
A Game of Blackjack is typically played using six to eight decks of cards.
The Blackjack Table
A blackjack table looks like a half-circle. The dealer stands in front of the area of the chip from where he/she deals the cards and handles winnings and losses. If you play online blackjack, you won’t see the dealer, as the AI will do everything.
Around the curved edge of the table is where players join. Depending on the blackjack table, several players may be seated. When you join a blackjack table, you take one of the empty spots and place your bet (the minimum bet for most blackjack tables is about $5).
The dealer will circle and deal one card face up to each player, including him/herself. Then the dealer will deal a second card to all players, face down. However, the dealer’s second card (the dealer’s hole card) is always face down (to build suspense).
A player can request to be “hit” by receiving additional cards from the dealer. When the player is satisfied with their total sum, they can stay. The dealer will then move on to the next player (if any are present).
Finally, once all the players have received their cards, the dealer’s face-down card will be shown the winner(s) will be announced. Like in all casino games, there is a house edge over the player.
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How to Win at Blackjack
To win at Blackjack, you need to beat the dealer. If your hand is better than the dealer’s hand, you win with a payout of 1:1 (double your bet).
When you get dealt your two cards, you need to decide whether you want to take another card (take a “hit”) or they can stay on the number they currently are (“stay”).
If a player gets a face card (Jack, Queen, King, or a 10) and an Ace, that is considered a natural. A natural winner receives a payout of 3:2 (150% of their wager). However, if the dealer also manages to get a natural, it is considered a tie between that player and the dealer. You can read more about Blackjack odds and probability in our latest guide.
Know When to Hit and When to Stay
Knowing when to stay is one of the most extensive beginner traps new players face. While it’s true that getting 21 is the ideal scenario, statistically, it rarely happens. You must realize that hitting close to 21 is legitimate to avoid this trap.
For example, many new players may think that having an 18 isn’t that great and may just draw another card. In most cases, such players will probably draw a high card that will send them over 21 and make them lose their bet. So, don’t always take a hit. Learn when to stay. Heck, staying on a 15 is sometimes a good idea.
There is a solution if you are just starting and aren’t sure when the right time to hit or stay is.
An exciting rule in Blackjack is doubling down. Doubling down means that you are very confident in the two cards you are dealt that you want to double your bet and, hopefully, get even more from your winnings. Doubling down usually occurs when you draw an Ace along with another card.
A split is more advanced and isn’t recommended for brand-new players. A split is when you get two perfect cards and turn them into two separate hands. For example, if you draw two Aces, instead of waiting for more cards, you may want to treat them as two separate hands and, hopefully, get two wins instead of just one.
Unfortunately, a split also means you have to place another bet for your other hand, but if you are lucky, you’ll walk away with two wins instead of just one. While players should always split aces, other good cards should also be split.
First, surrendering in Blackjack may not be allowed in all casinos/online casino games. Surrendering in Blackjack is when you choose to forfeit your hand. When you do this, you can get back half of your wager. While that may not sound like a lot, the alternative is losing it all, so it’s a great deal if you think about it.
If you feel like neither taking a hit nor staying is a good option, you can always choose to surrender (if it is allowed).
Many players consider surrendering in Blackjack to be against the “spirit of the game” however, many also claim that this is the best rule in blackjack as it, ultimately, helps you play for longer. If you are not sure when to surrender in Blackjack, check out our latest article.
The Blackjack Cheat Sheet
Before you get intimidated by the look of the table above, let us assure you that you don’t have to memorize anything. Many brick-and-mortar casinos will allow you to use the cheat sheet while sitting at the table. You aren’t using notes during a test, you are just reading the standard rules.
The cheat sheet above can help you know when it’s usually a good idea to hit, stay, double down, or split. When you see the dealer’s face-up card and receive both of your cards, simply look at the cheat sheet and do what it says.
Please note: Just because this is a cheat sheet doesn’t mean it will win you every Blackjack hand. It won’t. The cheat sheet is a general rule of thumb that most Blackjack players make when receiving certain cards. While it can’t win you all games, the cheat sheet can help you look like a competent player during your blackjack game. A player who uses a cheat sheet is considered a basic strategy player.
Before we end this guide, we’d like to mention side bets briefly. Side bets in Blackjack are additional bets that players can place when placing the original bet (unless it’s an insurance bet). Unlike Doubling down (when you have a good idea of what you might get), side bets are entirely luck dependent.
New players should avoid side bets and should only be used by those bored of playing Blackjack the same old way and want to spice things up. Side bets are all about predicting the cards that you will get. They can be of the same suit same value of a specific combination of cards.
You can even lose a hand but still win a side bet. Specific side bets can even give you a payout of 1000:1. We will cover Blackjack side bets in a different guide, but for now, you should know that side bets can be fun ways to earn money even during a losing game and earn a bit more if you are feeling lucky.