Learn how to play Blackjack

The basic premise of the card game Blackjack or 21 is for the players to beat the dealers hand with a hand value up to or equaling 21. I should emphasise that beating the dealer does not necessarily mean having to get 21. Mathematicians over the years have formulated a basic playing strategy and this can be used to help you enjoy the game more and hopefully increase your winnings by knowing the best time to increase your bet. You can visit my specific Live Blackjack site where there is further information on how to play blackjack and what strategies you can use to win more often.

Game Setup

Card Values

Ace – is treated as a 1 or 11.

2 – 10 are the face value of the cards

J-Q-K are valued as 10

The game can be played with anything from 1 deck of 52 playing cards up to 8 decks. In multiple deck games the cards are shuffled either manually or by machine and placed in a dealing shoe from which the dealer can take the cards. A re-shuffle of the cards including the discarded cards from each of the hands is performed when approximately half the shoe has been dealt. It is however becoming an increasing trend for casinos to use a continuous shuffling machine where the discarded cards are put straight back into the dealing shoe and shuffled.

How to play Blackjack

The Players hand

At the start of a hand each player places a bet on the table. Play proceeds from the dealers left and he deals two cards, normally face up to each player. He deals himself one card face up and one card face down (in certain forms of the game, the dealer can take his second card after all the players have completed their hands).

The first player then makes his playing decision. This is based on the value of his hand and what the dealers up card is. His options are:

  • 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 – Where 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 – When 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 Dealers Hand

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

  • He must stand if his hand equal 17 or more. (Some variations of the game allow him to hit on a soft 17 (which 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 pay out to those players that have beaten the value of his hand. Payout is 1 to 1.

If the dealers hand equals the value of a players 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 players 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.