Blackjack Rules

One of the most well-known casino games by far is twenty one or in other words, blackjack. It seems to offer everything a player needs in order to get a high level of entertainment. Its rules are easy to remember which make the game perfect for all types of players, even inexperienced ones. This card game is also famous for having one of the lowest house edges in comparison to the rest of the casino classics.

Blackjack features a skill element, meaning that you can greatly influence the outcome of every hand by applying a strategy. This way, you have a decent chance of winning and even making a profit, something which not many casino games offer you.

Basics

blackjack dealer photoBlackjack is a card game in which you and the rest of the players sitting on the table compete against a dealer. The moves each participant makes don’t affect you directly and your main focus should be placed on beating the dealer. The dealer is the person who represents the casino and he/she is responsible for conducting the gaming process in a smooth and professional manner.

Your primary goal is to defeat him/her by forming a total in your hand that is as close to 21 as possible. However, bear in mind that if you surpass this number, you automatically lose your bet. In such situations the term go bust is used to indicate that the respective player has lost. You become a winner if your hand’s total is higher than the dealer’s or if he/she surpasses 21. Originally, the game was played with a single pack of cards but nowadays more and more variations deviate from this rule. Regardless of whether you play blackjack in a land-based or a web-based casino, you are most likely to bump into a game which uses four or six decks.

In general, blackjack is considered to have rather straightforward rules which you can quickly learn. Unlike other casino games, it doesn’t feature a number of complicated bets which further eases players. During the game you are required to choose from several moves for your hand which are also very simple.

Every time you have the freedom to decide how to play your cards, whereas the dealer against whom you compete doesn’t. When it comes to the dealer’s play, his/her actions are predetermined by the rules of the game. Speaking of rules, you should know that blackjack has many variations which have different house edge and even game play in some cases. Therefore, the rules of some versions deprive you completely of some of the moves which is the reason why it is best to get familiar with them in advance.

In general, most blackjack tables have a semi-circular shape and in land-based casinos, they are usually located in the table games section. Up to seven players can sit on one table and play independently, only against a dealer. The table itself is a specially designed one which features several betting areas. When you sit on a blackjack table, you will be able to see a Chips tray, a place for the decks called a Shoe and a Currency Slot in which are stored all of the money that players have exchanged for chips.

Cards & Hands Value

The way in which the cards are valued in blackjack is fairly simple to grasp and learn. All cards retain the numeric value on them, except for aces and face cards. All jacks, queens and kings are worth 10 points, whereas aces can be counted as either 1 or 11. For this purpose, the ace is considered to be the most powerful card in the deck as it can prevent you from going bust or it can help you form a higher total. Whenever you have an ace in your hand, you can adjust its value multiple times, depending on your needs. This card is undoubtedly a great tool, however only if you know how to take advantage of it. As for the suits in blackjack, you should know that they are absolutely irrelevant, meaning that it doesn’t matter whether you get a diamond or a spade ace as either way it can be counted as one or ten.

Since the ace is the most powerful card in the deck, it is no wonder that the highest winning combination includes it. You will receive the biggest payout, if you manage to collect an ace and a ten-valued card. This winning hand is called blackjack and it typically pays out 3/2. If you happen to form such a card combination, you instantly win. However, there is one exception to this rule – if the dealer also has a blackjack, the outcome of the round is a tie or in other words, a push. This basically means that no one wins in which case the bet is automatically returned to the player.

Blackjack Hands Value
Cards Value
AA
11 / 1
KK
QQ
JJ
10
22
33
44
44
55
66
77
88
99
1010
Face Value

Game Cycle

blackjack game cycleThe whole gaming process in blackjack is very simple to conduct, yet quite exciting. If you are not sure about anything during the game, you can always ask the dealer for assistance. The first thing you need to do at the beginning of every round is to place your bet. It is a good idea to determine the size of your wagers in advance in order to prevent yourself from overspending. In order to place a bet, you need to put the relevant amount of chips in the designed betting spot on the table that is located in front of you.

After that all of the players who have an active betting spot receive two cards. These two cards form your hand and they are placed face up. Then, the dealer also receives two cards. However, note that only one of his/her cards is exposed and the other is placed face down. The hidden card is called a Hole card and it plays a crucial role for the whole gaming process. The function of this card is the following – if the dealer has a 10-valued card or an ace from the initial deal, he/she is enforced by the rules to check for blackjack.

In case that the dealer has a blackjack, then the Hole card gets revealed and you lose. The only exception is when you also have a blackjack as then the outcome of the round is simply a tie. The Hole card rule can vary, depending on the variation and the online casino of your choice. Bear in mind that this rule works in your favour as it prevents you from placing large bets in cases when you are bound to lose.

After you have placed your bet and you have received your first two cards, you need to choose one of the available moves for your hand. Depending on your choice the game will unfold differently every time. If you don’t surpass 21 and your hand’s total is higher than the dealer’s, you win and you get paid an amount that is equal to your initial wager. The same goes for the cases in which the dealer goes bust and you don’t. You lose all of your bets in two cases – if the dealer’s total is higher than yours or if you bust.

As for your hand, you basically have to decide whether you are satisfied with its total or you would like to improve it. During each round, all of the participants have to make up their mind regarding their hand. The game is operated in a clockwise manner and the player from whom the gaming process begins is the one sitting on first base. First base is called the position that is on the dealer’s left side. Analogically, if you want to be the last player to make a move, you should sit on the dealer’s right side or in other words, third base.

Player’s Choices in a Hand

blackjack player choice graphicAs already mentioned, once you receive your first two cards, you have to decide how to play your hand. Your main options are to either stand or hit which you will always have, regardless of the variation you play. You should perform the latter move when you believe that the total in your hand is insufficient to beat the dealer.

By choosing to hit, you basically request another card to be dealt to you. In this sense, it is best to get familiar with your odds of busting, depending on your hand’s total. For instance, if you have a total of eighteen in your hand, your chance of going bust is 77% but if you have a total of twelve, it is only 31%. In order to indicate this move, you need to simply wave or tap with your fingers on the table.

The move stand is the opposite of hit. When you choose to stand, you basically choose to keep your hand’s total as it is. In such cases, you won’t receive any additional cards, meaning that the total in your hand won’t be affected in any way. By selecting the move stand, you simply end your turn without performing any other actions. This way, if you have a high total in your hand, you won’t go bust and lose your bet. If you want to stand, you need to wave your hand above the cards.

There are some other moves which are not always available. Their availability depends on either the particular situation and circumstances or on the variation of your choice. In some cases, you will be given the opportunity to double down, split, take insurance or surrender. The former move enables you to double your bet. In order to do so, you are required to wager the same amount as your original bet once more by placing the respective chips and pointing them with one finger. It should be noted that this option is available only if you haven’t made any other major moves but at the same time you have already received your initial cards.

At one point during the game, you are bound to get a pair of two cards which have the same rank. In such cases, you can choose to split them and this way, form two new hands which are independent from one another. This means that you should treat them as such and apply a different approach towards each one of them. Each hand gets one more card and if it happens to form a matching pair again, in some cases you can re-split it. However, the rules regarding splitting and re-splitting differ greatly from one variation to another.

In some variations, it is also possible to take insurance or in other words, to make sure you will win something even if the dealer has a blackjack. In order to take advantage of this move, you are required to place a side bet which should be half of the amount of your original wager. The insurance bet works the following way – if the dealer has a blackjack, your original bet losses but the insurance one wins. Its payout is usually 2/1.

Another move which is not always available is the surrender option. In some games, when the dealer’s up card is a 10-valued one or an ace, you are given the opportunity to surrender. This means that you can give half of your original wager to the casino without playing the hand but you get to keep the other half. This move is very beneficial if you are in a situation in which you know you are bound to lose against the dealer. It should be noted that depending on the time in which you can perform this move, two types can be distinguished – early and late surrender.

Dealer’s Options

blackjack dealer optionsWhen it comes to the dealer’s options, you should know that he/she plays according to a set of rules which you can see before the beginning of the game. The dealer is completely deprived of the following moves – to double down, split a pair or surrender. In most games, the dealer is enforced to stand on soft 17 and hit if his/ her total is less than this number. If you choose to stand, in order to determine the outcome of the game, the dealer will reveal his hidden card. In case he has a natural blackjack, you and the rest of the players instantly lose your bets.

If the dealer doesn’t have a natural blackjack, he/she is required to hit or stand depending on the variation of the above-mentioned rule. Also, if the game is a Hole card one, the dealer has to peek for blackjack. In general, the rules according to which the dealer plays can vary, depending on the version of your choice. What is more, there are some land-based casinos in which you can join blackjack tables that have completely different rules and table limits but are positioned in the same venue.

Basic Strategy

Since blackjack is a game of skills and luck, it is possible to influence the outcome of every round by applying a strategy. The more you know about the game, the higher your chances of winning are. Blackjack has a moderately low house edge which enables you to become a consistent winner and even make a profit in the long term. However, in order to achieve this goal, you need to prepare yourself in advance and master the basic strategy.

The basic strategy features a plan which gives you an idea of how you should proceed in a particular situation. It takes into account your hand’s total as well as the dealer’s up card. Its suggested moves are based entirely on the probability of all of the card combinations that you can possibly get in a given scenario. In order to minimise your money losses, you should simply follow the set of rules that its chart suggests. The basic strategy doesn’t guarantee you will win all the time but it can help you improve your game to some extent.

Basic Strategy Chart
Players’ Hand Dealer’s Up Card
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 A
8 H H H D D H H H H H
9 H D D D D H H H H H
10 D D D D D D H H H H
11 D D D D D D D H H H
12 H H S S S H H H H H
13 S S S S S H H H H H
14 S S S S S H H H H H
15 S S S S S H H H H H
16 S S S S S H H H H H
A-2 H H H D D H H H H H
A-3 H H D D D H H H H H
A-4 H H D D D H H H H H
A-5 H H D D D H H H H H
A-6 H D D D D H H H H H
A-7 S D D D D S S H H H
A-8 S S S S S S S S S S
A-9 S S S S S S S S S S
A-A SP SP SP SP SP SP SP H H H
2-2 SP SP SP SP SP SP H H H H
3-3 SP SP SP SP SP SP H H H H
4-4 H H H SP SP H H H H H
5-5 D D D D D D H H H H
6-6 SP SP SP SP SP H H H H H
7-7 SP SP SP SP SP SP H H H H
8-8 SP SP SP SP SP SP SP SP SP SP
9-9 SP SP SP SP SP S SP SP S S

Blackjack Terms

Blackjack, just like most casino games, is full of terms which you should get familiar with in order to be able to understand the game thoroughly. Let’s have a look at some of the most important ones which you need to know in order to play blackjack and follow the gaming process with ease.

  • Hit – to take another card
  • Stand – to end your turn without drawing any cards
  • Double Down – to double your original stake by placing an additional bet
  • Split – to form two new hands which are independent from one another
  • Surrender – to give up half of your bet and retain the other half without playing the hand
  • Insurance – an optional bet which you can make when the up card of the dealer is an ace
  • Soft Hand – a hand that has an ace which can be counted as eleven
  • Hard Hand – a hand which contains no aces or a hand which has an ace but it can be only counted as one otherwise its total exceeds twenty one
  • House Edge – the built-in advantage every casino game has which is shown in percentages
  • Shoe – a place on the table where the cards are stored
  • Hole Card – the dealer’s card which is placed face down

FAQ

What is the house edge in blackjack?

When it comes to blackjack, the exact percentage of the house edge is hard to be defined due to the fact that the game has so many variants. Some of the rules which can differ from one variation to another include whether the dealer hits or stands on soft 17, whether doubling after splitting is permitted, whether late/early surrender is available and whether re-splitting aces is allowed. The rules of the respective game depend on the casino of your choice as well and even the slightest change in this aspect influences greatly the house edge.

In general, the house edge most variations offer is less than 1%, providing that you apply a basic strategy. For instance, the house edge in the version Blackjack Switch is 0.17% and in Super Fun 21 is 0.94%. The number of decks also has an impact on this percentage. In this sense, the more packs of cards in use, the higher the house edge is. For example, single deck blackjack games increase the house edge with only 0.4%, whereas the eight deck variations – with 0. 70%.

When it is best to surrender?

You should take advantage of the surrender option only when you know that the outcome of your hand will be most likely a loss for you. For instance, if your hand’s total is sixteen and the dealer has a jack. In this case your best move will be to forfeit half of your bet so that you can withdraw from the game with some money in a situation in which you were almost certainly bound to lose.

However, you shouldn’t surrender every time you have disadvantageous cards as this will cause you to lose more money in the long term than if you actually played the hand.

What does the variation Progressive Jackpot Blackjack feature?

Progressive Jackpot Blackjack is one of the most popular variations for several reasons. Perhaps, the biggest one is the fact that it features a jackpot whose amount is constantly increasing every time someone plays the respective game. Some games offer several generous prizes and even if you don’t win the biggest one, you can still leave the casino with a decent profit. In order to be able to qualify for them, you need to place a special side bet.