How To Play Blackjack

Blackjack CardsIt is not at all surprising that you want to learn how to play blackjack. This is a game that appears in casinos around the world and can be found in mainstream culture through blockbuster movies and best-selling books. Luckily blackjack is a relatively simple card game. Keep reading as we take a closer look and teach you how to play blackjack.

What is Blackjack?

Blackjack is one of the most popular casino games in the world. It has a simple set of rules and gives you a real chance to carefully use strategy to improve your odds. Your goal in a game of blackjack is to build a hand of cards with a value higher than the dealer’s hand without going over twenty-one.

At the start of the game, you are dealt two cards face up, and the dealer has two cards (one face-up, one face-down). Through several different options, you can modify your hand to make it better (aiming for 21). Understanding card values is essential to playing blackjack.

If you are playing in a single-deck game, your cards will be dealt facing down but you are allowed to use one hand to review them.

Cards numbered 1-10 are simply worth their assigned value. A two is worth two, a five is worth five, and so on. Jacks, Queens, and Kings are all worth ten. An Ace is either worth one or eleven; whichever is best for you. The perfect starting hand is worth twenty-one and consists of an Ace (11) and a ten or face card (10); this hand is called a blackjack.

If a player has blackjack (21), and the dealer also has blackjack, then the bet is pushed, which means you get your money back. If the player and the dealer both bust (go over 21), then the house wins.

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Blackjack Instructions

Now that you know what blackjack is, it’s time to learn how to play. When you first sit down at the blackjack table, you can signal that you want to play by putting your bet (chips) out forward into the circle in front of you.

After your bet is on the table, you’ll have to wait until the current round comes to a close. At the start of a new round, the dealer will give you your two casino blackjack cards and it is time to start playing. The game really starts after the cards have been dealt. Based on your hand and the dealer’s up-card you can do one of several things to attempt to win.

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The simplest option you have is to stand. This means you are fully satisfied with your current hand and would like to make no changes. To signal a stand to the dealer, simply wave your hand over your cards with your palm facing down. You can also just say the word stand and the dealer will move on to the next player.


Hitting is the act of requesting one or more cards to add to your hand. Tell the dealer hit, hit me, or tap the table. You will get one card every time your request a hit and when you are done hitting, by default, you stand.

Most recreational blackjack players, who haven’t learned much about the game, choose to only hit or stand because these are the two easiest options in the entire game. Moving on from here, it gets slightly more complicated.


When your two first cards are of equal value (pairs, two face cards, face card and a ten, etc…) you can choose to split the hand. This literally means you want to turn your starting hand into two separate bets with one original card in each new hand. To do this, you need to make a second wager (equal to the first) so each of your two new hands is worth as much as the original.

Then the dealer will deal one new card on top of each original. After splitting, you play each hand as you would normally (hitting or standing) with the same goal of getting to twenty-one. In some casinos, you may be able to split a hand more than once.

Double Down

When you double down, you must double the size of your wager and accept exactly one more card. You cannot refuse this card and you cannot make any further changes to your hand after you double down. In some casinos, you can double down on a hand after you’ve split, but this is fairly rare. In most cases, doubling down must be the first thing you do.


Surrendering is a cheap way to get out of a bad situation. If your starting hand is too bad to play, you can choose to surrender and get half of your bet back. You cannot surrender after making any changes to your hand or after the dealer makes any changes to his.

This might seem like a raw deal, but there are a few situations where it is best to simply surrender. This option is not offered everywhere, and when you cannot surrender, hitting is advised.


If, and only if, the dealer’s face-up card is an ace, you can choose to buy insurance. Insurance is a bet that the dealer has a natural blackjack, and it pays 2:1. This bet is always worth half of your original wager.

If the dealer has blackjack, then you get the 2:1 payout on half of your original bet, while losing your original wager. In total, you lose as much as you win. If the dealer doesn’t have blackjack, then you lose your insurance bet.

Statistically speaking, it is never a good idea to take insurance.

If you have blackjack, then you could say I’ll take the even money. This means you’ll post the insurance bet. If the dealer has blackjack, then you push the original bet, but win the insurance. If the dealer doesn’t have blackjack, then you lose the insurance but win the blackjack, which pays 3:2. The net result of that is an even money 1:1 win.

Blackjack Dealer Rules

The dealer’s hand is not static. Just like you, the dealer is aiming to get a hand worth twenty-one, but they are much more limited. Dealers cannot split or double down, and they don’t have the freedom to follow their instincts.

As a rule, dealers will always be required to hit until their hand is worth seventeen or more. In some cases, the dealer will also hit on “soft” seventeen, but if that is the case, it will be printed on the table.

Try It For Yourself

Below is a free-play blackjack demo (provided by Bovada) where you can practice playing blackjack. Take your time, review the rules, and sharpen your skills without risking a penny. Just clck on the chips in the lower right hand corner to make your first bet, then hit the “deal” button to get started:

There is Always More To Learn

There is a difference between knowing how to play blackjack, and knowing how to play it well. Now that you’ve read this article, you have the basic foundation necessary to start playing but there is much more to learn. You must keep learning to discover the best blackjack strategies.

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