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Learn How to Play Blackjack

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The Game Setup

Card Values

  • Stand – The player decides not to take any cards and stands on what he has.
  • Hit / Draw – The player receives another card from the pack until he either hits 21 or decides to stand.
  • Double – The player can choose to double his initial bet and take one more card. He must stand after this card is taken, regardless of the value of his hand.
  • Split – If the player has been dealt two cards of the same value, he may choose to split them into two hands. They are then treated as separate hands and played as such, by either standing, hitting, doubling, or even splitting again. When splitting, a bet equal to the amount of the initial bet is placed on the second hand.

If a player draws cards more than the value of 21 he is said to have “busted” and loses the hand and his initial stake money.

Play proceeds until all the players have completed their hands by either standing or busting out.

The Dealer’s Hand

The dealer can then play his hand but under certain restrictions:

  • He must stand if his hand equals 17 or more. (Some variations of the game allow him to hit on a soft 17. This is a hand with an ace counting as 11).
  • He must take a card if he has 16 or less.
  • He cannot split.
  • He cannot double.

If the dealer has 17 or more he stands and will make a payout to those players that have beaten the value of his hand. Payout is 1 to 1.

If the dealer’s hand equals the value of a player’s hand, the player has his bet returned to him and the result is known as a “Push”.

If the dealer has busted he pays out to all players still in the game. Payout is 1 to 1.

If the dealer beats the value of the player’s hand the player loses and his bet is forfeited.

Blackjack occurs when a player or dealer is dealt an Ace and a 10 card. This hand cannot be beaten, but a push occurs if both the player and dealer have blackjack.

In multiple-deck games, Blackjack pays 3 to 2 and in single-deck it normally pays 6 to 5.

Blackjack Definitions


This is the term used to define the action of creating two hands form one hand that contains a pair.

It’s advantageous to create two hands depending on what the dealers up card is showing.

You’d do this because it’s an opportunity to put more money on the table when the dealer has a weak hand (i.e you have more chance of winning).

Two hands are created from your one hand.

When you split you have to place a bet equal to your initial bet on the second hand. Each hand is then played independently. In some places, if you are dealt with another pair you can re-split again.

Doubling or Double Down

This term is used to signify that you want to double your bet. When you do that you’ll receive only one extra card.

Again this is a tactic to use when the dealer has a weak hand and your hand is in a position to be improved without risk.

You place a bet equal to the amount of your initial stake and the dealer gives you one extra card. You cannot then take another card.

The dealer then plays his hand out and only then will you know if you’ve won!

Blackjack Side Bets

To make the game more interesting there is a range of side bets that can be placed alongside the main hand.

These have no bearing on the main hand, but can only be played if an initial Ante bet has been placed.

For further details see my information on Blackjack Side Bets.