How to Play Blackjack

Perhaps the most prevalent table card game among gamblers is currently Blackjack. To win the game, the player has to get the highest possible total without exceeding 21 (known as busting) to defeat the dealer.

The game begins with two community cards dealt to each player and each of them has to decide to “draw” or “hit” (i.e. draw an extra cards) based on their cards totaling less than 21. 1 or 11 are the value attributed to an ace whereas 10 to king have the same value of ten. The rest are counted at their face value. An over 21 total makes the player go bust and lose his ante.

Normally, the dealer has two initial cards – one face up and the other face down (known as “hole card”). The dealer will be dealt the card after all players’ turns end, granting the house a benefit to collect all antes of those who go bust regardless of his subsequent busting. However, one disadvantage of the dealer is to essentially get at least 17 while the player can get any total they’d like.

If you win, you will receive a payout at 1:1 – a sum of your initial ante plus 100%. The case you receive your ante back is called a “push” or tie.


A combo of an ace and a ten including cards like 10-J-Q-K will lead to the player’s “Blackjack” considered automatic win and the hand will pay 3:2 on the player’s initial ante (note that “6:5 blackjack” offering should be avoided as it is apparently fraudulent) except the case of the dealer’s “blackjack” where the player will receive a “push” or tie. A dealer blackjack is the highest among all other player hands. One more thing, if your aces are split and you draw a ten card, that’s not a blackjack anymore (see splitting below).

The player’s choices


You can request the dealer to deal you another card by the act of tapping the table in land based casinos, called hitting (also termed “drawing”).


If you tell the dealer not to deal you any more cards, you are standing in which you will, like a spectator, wait to see until you win or lose the game.

Double Down

The player is allowed to raise his initial ante twice after receiving his first two cards and then he will be dealt only one more cards. This is called “double down”. The player will perform this act when he recognizes his obvious calculating advantage. For instance, the player’s first two face-up cards add up from 9 to 11 while the dealer just has one face card of 5 or 6, leading higher chance for the dealer to bust as he needs to draw at least two more cards. In some cases, the player is allowed to double any two card total while others just allow the player to double the totals from 9 to 11.


Splitting allows players to divide their hand into two independent hands and then they receive two cards of the same value (e.g. 7-7, 3-3). Of course, the players have to bet an identical amount on the second hand. In general, 10s or 5s should not be split as a total of 20 give you higher chance to win while a 10 total reduce the possibility of busting. Besides, it’s advisable for you to split 8s and Aces without knowing the dealer’s cards. In some versions, you are allowed to re-split your hand, meaning that after you first splitting, you receive cards of the same value and you split your hands again with an extra wager. You can also combine doubling down with splitting. That means you are likely to split and double up to 4 hands, resulting in a bet 8 times your initial ante and all against the dealer’s single hand.

One disadvantage of the players happens when they split their Aces. In particular, after dividing two aces into two separate hands and drawing two new tens, these hands are regarded as merely 21 instead of blackjack paying 3:2.


Insurance is a side bet offered to the player by casinos when the dealer has a face-up Ace. In this insurance, the player is required to bet half of his ante and receive a ratio of 2:1 on such a bet if the dealer has a blackjack. Mathematically, this is a “fraudulent business” as the chances of the dealer to draw a blackjack are 4 out of 13 less than 2:1 (i.e. the dealer must be dealt one of 10-J-Q-K out of 13 cards).


In some versions like Atlantic City Blackjack, the player may surrender, losing one-seconds of his ante after drawing two first cards. A late surrender, the most common variant, is allowed after the dealer checks for blackjack (i.e. the player has no chance to surrender after the dealer’s blackjack, leading to his loss of all bet). An early surrender rarely happens in which the player surrender before the dealer’s blackjack. There has been no early surrender at online casinos up to now. This act is the best choice for the players in case of their extremely low chance to win the game. In specific, when you draw a 15 or 16 while the dealer has 10 or 9-10-Ace, respectively, you should surrender.

Other blackjack terms

Hard hand

Hard hand includes hands without an ace of 11. For example, a combination of 9 and is a hard 16 or that of an ace, 3 and 10 is a hard 14 as an ace as 11 leads to a busting total of 24.

Soft hand

In contrast to hard hand, soft hand contains any hand with an ace as 11 e.g. Ace and 7 is a soft 18.

Stiff hand

Stiff hand is hands with first two cars totaling from 12 to 16. You will have higher chance to go bust with an extra card dealt.

Pat hand

Pat hand occurs when your first two cards dealt total at least 17. You should be satisfied with these totals and draw no more cards. (Consult basic strategy chart for exceptions).

Blackjack house edge and optimal strategy

Requiring the player basic scheme to play correctly (see chart on this page), blackjack owns one of the lowest house edge among those of other games in casinos. A common one of about 0.4% indicates that every $100 of your bet is expected to lose an average of $0.4 in the long run. However, in the short run, this number fluctuates significantly, meaning that there will be a time when you win a big prize or when you lose with the same size. Anyway, the low house edge makes it the best games for gamblers, of course, after it completes betting requirements on casino bonuses (if allowed).

Playing Blackjack online Blackjack appears on almost all online casinos. Indeed, each online casino will have its own blackjack version with slight changes that you can also find in real casinos. Some famous varieties such as Vegas Strip rules, Atlantic City rules, Spanish 21, Australian-style Pontoon – just name few constitute a large pool of online blackjack available for play. Its low house edge generally discourages players wishing bonus claims – either they are not allowed in this game or its betting requirements are a lot steeper than others games such as slots.

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