In the casino world, Blackjack is considered to be the most exciting and popular table game available. The main element of its appeal is that in Blackjack, players actually have an edge over the house making it an attractive option for both new and pro players. Its growth in popularity and its ability to attract players worldwide is that blackjack is easy to learn and to play.
Let us review the basic rules of blackjack and how you can master this table game with ease:
Cards 2-10 are worth the value of the number on the face of the card.
To start, blackjack is a card game where a player will compete against the house or the dealer. The game involves all players being dealt cards which all have a specific value. For example, all cards from 2 to 10 are valued based on the number that appears on the card. That is, a 5 of hearts holds a value of the number 5 while the 9 of spades holds the value of the number 9. It is important to note that the suit of the card has no effect on the point value of the card which means that a 4 of diamonds and a four of hearts are both valued at 4 each.
Added to this, all the picture cards in the deck which include the Jacks, Queens and Kings, each have a value of 10 each.The ‘Ace’ is considered to be the only card to be unique in that it has two values – that is, the Ace can be counted as an 11 or as a 1 and this is determined based on the combination of cards a player is holding.
Picture cards are worth 10 and the Ace is worth 1 or 11. A picture combined with an Ace is Blackjack i.e. 21
For example, if a player is dealt an Ace and a 9, then they are likely to count the Ace as an 1, giving the player a total card count of 20 (11+9). However, if a player is dealt a 3 and an Ace, they might choose to count the Ace as a 1 and then request an additional card (hit) from the dealer.
In blackjack, the objective of the game is to achieve a score as close to 21 as possible. This needs to be done without going over this number because once you do, you are said to go bust. Should you not reach 21, the objective of the game is then to achieve a higher score than the dealer. For example, a player is dealt a 10 & 8 and therefore his score is 18. The dealer has a 9 & 8, giving the dealer a score of 17. In this example, the player’s score is higher than the dealer’s and it is also closer to 21. In this example, the player wins.
To put it into simple terms, the main objective in the game of blackjack is to achieve an Ace and a 10 value card and to produce a total score of 21.
When blackjack is played, either one deck of cards is used but up to 8 decks of cards might be used. It is important to note that the less cards that are used, this is more of an advantage to the player whereas more decks means that there is more of an advantage to the dealer. Interestingly, not all casinos offer both single and double deck blackjack while many casinos also limit the number of blackjack tables that are available.
Bets and Payouts
In order to play blackjack and to be dealt into a round, a player needs to place a wager or a bet. In terms of payouts, a winning hand in blackjack will receive a 1:1 payout. This means that if a player bets $20 and they win the hand, they will receive $40 in payout. That is, the $20 of their original bet plus the $20 in winnings. If a player is dealt a ‘blackjack’ hand with their first 2 cards, that is an Ace and a 10 card, the player will be paid out 3:2. For example, if a player bets $20 and is dealt a blackjack hand, their payout will be $50. While playing blackjack, as soon as a player is dealt a blackjack winning hand, they are paid out immediately. The only time the player will not receive an immediate payout on a blackjack hand is when the dealer’s face-up card is an Ace or a 10 value card. The reason for this is that if the dealer also holds a blackjack hand, then the round is considered to be a draw or a push. In this case, a player will receive back their original wager amount.
The table limits in blackjack vary from one casino to the next and in some land based casinos, the table limits usually start at a minimum of $5 while online casinos even offer hands of only $1 each. Added to this, each casino might also have a maximum betting cap which can range anywhere from $50 to $50,000 (Yes, it is Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas which is the only casino today with a max bet of $50,000). Most blackjack tables accommodate up to 6 players each and once the game starts, the dealer will deal cards to the players from the left to the right. Once all the players have their cards, the dealer is then the last to act in the game of Blackjack.
Players place their bet into the box in order to be dealt in.
The game of blackjack starts with the player pushing their bet into the betting box or circle located in front of them. It is important to note that lower denomination chips are usually placed at the top of the chip stack while chips with a higher denomination should be placed on the bottom of the stack. Once all players have placed their bets, the dealer will then instruct the players that no more bets can be placed. The game of blackjack then begins and the cards will then be dealt out.
To start, the dealer will deal a card from the shuffled shoe to the first player on their left and will then continue to right until all players have been dealt a card. The dealer will then also deal themselves a card. These cards which are dealt to the player(s) are dealt face-up yet the dealer’s first card is deal face-down while his second card is dealt face-up. Before the game continues, if the dealer’s face up card is an Ace, the player(s) has the option to purchase insurance which costs 50% of the bet value. For example, if a player made a bet of $100, in order to insure their hand against the dealer’s possible blackjack, they will need to purchase insurance of $50. If the dealer does indeed have blackjack, the player will lose their initial bet of $100 but will receive a 1:1 payout on their insurance amount and so they will receive $100. Also, all the other non-blackjack hands of the players that did not take out any insurance will automatically be losing hands and the dealer will collect the bets of these players and the round will end.
Should a player also have blackjack, this is called a push and the player will only receive their original wager back and the round will then end.
In the above scenario, if the dealer does not have blackjack, the player(s) who purchased insurance, will lose their insurance amount and the dealer will then ask each player, starting from their left, what action they would like to take. Based on their dealt cards, a player can either choose to request another card (hit) or they can choose to decline any additional cards (stand). It is important to note that players have a variety of options to choose from once their first 2 cards have been dealt out and the decision they make here needs to also take into account the other cards held by the other players at the table as well as the dealer.
So how does a player know when to stand or hit? A player needs to assess the point value of their hand. That is, in most cases, a player normally stands when the point value of their cards is from 16 to 21. Most players also usually hit on anything at 11 and below. A player can hit or request another card as many times as they please but once they go over 21, the hand is said to bust and the player’s wager will be taken by the dealer. Also, when a player hits a number of times, this decision must be taken based on the up card of the dealer. There are a wide variety of strategies to use in these circumstances and we will cover this in more details in the Strategies section of the site.
Should a player decide to ‘stand’, the dealer will then continue from left to right until each player has completed their turn.
Once all players have completed their actions on their cards, the dealer will then expose his face down card to show his score. If a dealer has less than 17, they must continue drawing cards until they reach 17 or above, without going above 21 or going bust. Once the dealer reaches a score of 17 or more, they will then stand and the dealer’s score is then compared to the score of each player. If the player’s score is higher than the dealer’s score, they will get paid out 1:1 and if the player’s score is less than the dealer’s score, then the player loses their initial bet. In the case that the scores of the player and the dealer are equal, the player receives their original bet back and this is a push. Should the dealer at any stage bust or go over 21, all the players at the table will win and will receive a 1:1 payout. Any player who had blackjack would have already been paid out 3:2 during the round.
These are the basics of blackjack and how to play this exciting game. We will now shift our focus on to more advanced and intermediate blackjack rules where we will cover interesting topics such as double down, splitting and more. The rules we have covered so far are the purest form of blackjack rules yet it is important to remember that there are however variations of blackjack. We will also cover these other forms of blackjack in other tutorials yet always remember that the basic rules of blackjack covered above will remain the same.