By Brad Isaac
The card game of Blackjack is often thought of as one of, if not the most popular casino table game. The basic idea of the game is that the player is dealt two cards, and in attempts to reach the total of 21 without going over, he or she either keeps just those first two cards or accepts one or more additional cards to get as close to 21 as possible. The game is won by the person closest to 21 without going over. There are many nuances and variations to blackjack though, and we will cover many of them here so that you may learn as much as possible about the rules for blackjack in one convenient location.
Blackjack’s rules in their basic form are not difficult to learn as you will find here. In a live casino, the dealer faces up to seven players at a time. The table is marked with a bet area box for each player and just above these boxes is where the cards are dealt. Card values are simple – numbered cards from 2 to 10 count as their number value. Face cards count as 10, and the Ace can count as a 1 or 11 at the choice of the player. The game starts with the player or players wagering their bets and once complete, the dealer deals two cards to each player. In an online casino, the dealer will deal to you as the player, and will deal multiple hands if the casino allows for you to play multiple hands on their particular software, and if you choose to play more than one hand at a time. The player and dealer both get two cards. There are variations on whether the cards are dealt face up or down, which we will cover later.
Blackjack game rules dictate that if a player gets a blackjack (also called a “natural”), that is if a player gets 21 on their first two cards, they win. (In casino rules blackjack wins usually are paid 2 to 1.) The “natural” would happen if they received an Ace and a card valued at 10 in their initial 2 cards. The only time in this case that they would not win would be if the dealer also got a “natural”. If this were to happen, the hand would be a “push” meaning it is a tie, and the player gets his or her wager back.
After receiving his initial two cards, the player has four standard options: thye can “hit”, “stand”, “double down”, or “split a pair”. Here are the definitions for each of these options:
- Hit: Take another card from the dealer. In a live casino, the typical hand motion to signal for a hit is to scrape the cards against the table, touch a finger to the table, or wave a hand toward you.
- Stand: Take no more cards and keep the total you currently have as your final total. Typically the choice if your hand is very close to 21, because you do not want to go over 21(“bust”). The usual hand motion to signal this in a live casino is to slide your cards underneath your wagered chips or to wave your hand horizontally.
- Double down: Before any more cards are dealt to a player he or she has the option to “double down.” This means the player is allowed to double his initial bet in exchange for receiving only one more card from the dealer. The player moves a second bet equal to the first into the betting box. In an online casino when this option is available, a button will typically appear to let the player know they have the ability to double if they so choose.
- Split a pair: If a player’s first two cards dealt to him or her are a “pair”, meaning two cards of the same value, the player can “split the pair.” To do this, the player moves a second bet equal to the first into an area outside the betting box of the original bet. The dealer separates the cards to create two hands, placing one bet with each hand. The player then plays two separate hands. In an online casino, a new button will appear if the player gets a pair on their initial 2 cards, letting them know that the option is available to them.
If the player chooses to hit and their hand goes over 21, they lose their bet. If the dealer goes over 21, the player wins an amount determined by that particular casino’s rules.
The dealer has certain rules to follow regarding when they are allowed to hit or stand. Most of the time, the dealer must stand on a 17. In Vegas blackjack rules, sometimes the dealer is allowed to hit on a soft 17, meaning a 17 that includes an Ace since the Ace can be counted as either a one or eleven.
Variations in dealing, and insurance bets:
In most blackjack rules the player’s cards are both dealt face up, and the dealer’s first card is face down with the dealer’s second card face up. This gives the player the opportunity to take a guess on whether the dealer has a natural blackjack or not.
If the dealer has an Ace showing, the player (depending on that particular casino’s rules) may have the option to buy insurance. This means that if the dealer has a 10 “in the hole”/not showing, and thus a 21/blackjack/natural, the player is protected by their insurance bet, which typically is paid 2 to 1 if the dealer does in fact have a blackjack. This helps to offset the loss on the player’s original wager.
Blackjack rules are easy to learn and can take a lifetime to master. It is an exciting card game and very popular in both casino and casual settings. Learning to play blackjack in an online casino is a great option because the player does not have to worry about the effect on the players around him or her (as hitting or standing can affect your neighbors’ hands as well as the dealer’s). In an online casino you can take your time, get to know the table layout, and in many casinos play with fake money while you are getting familiar with the game, all in the comfort of your own home. By reading and using our instructions and practicing, you can learn the rules of blackjack in no time, and enjoy yourself while doing so.