Blackjack Rules: Bets, Player Decisions & Payouts
Looking for a card game that's a little off the well-worn path? Check out our online Blackjack guide to see if this no nonsense card game is for you. It's not exactly avant-garde-movies, books, historians and, of course, websites have all covered the game at length-but Blackjack rules allow for fast games and quick player decisions, a fact that makes it unique among many of its card game competitors.
So what are Blackjack rules? There are a few, but they're fairly easy to learn. In fact, the beauty of this game is predicated largely on the simplicity of its rules.
Blackjack rules follow a clear path and game flow proceeds quickly and without fuss. Perhaps that's the reason so many players have fallen for it. Blackjack rules make for quick games, wherein game odds are quickly calculated small and not-so-small fortunes are won and lost within seconds.
Read the following basic Blackjack rules to see if this game (a.k.a. "21") is for you.
Learn Blackjack Rules: Beat the Dealer
Blackjack rules are really quite simple. If you want to win Blackjack, there is one straightforward, simple objective: beat the dealer. To do this, you must hold a stronger Blackjack hand than the dealer without going over 21.
What does "without going over 21" mean?
- Every card from 2 to 10 has the same score as its number, also known as its rank.
- All face cards (Jack, Queen, King) are valued at 10 points.
- Suits are irrelevant. A 10♥ is worth the same ten points as the 10♠.
- Aces count as either 1 point or 11, depending on the circumstances. For example, a hand with an Ace and a 6 can be scored as either 7 (1+6) or 17 (11+6, also called a "soft" 17).
Learn Blackjack Rules: The Deal
Blackjack Rules stipulate that at the start of each game, before any players receive any cards, all players post their bets. The dealer then distributes cards from a long box (called a "shoe") one at a time face up to each player. He issues himself one face down card.
The dealer repeats this process-sort of-so that each player holds two cards face up. He issues himself a second card. This one is face up (called the "up card").
Learn Blackjack Rules: Hit or Stand
The second aspect of Blackjack rules involves player decisions. Following the deal, a player may decide to either take another card ("hit") or to play with his first two cards ("stand"). A player can continue to hit until he either decides to stand or his score exceeds 21. A player whose score exceeds 21 "busts" and loses his bet.
Learn Blackjack Rules: Additional Betting Options
Players have additional betting options. To learn Blackjack properly-both how to play Blackjack and how to win Blackjack-requires understanding these basic Blackjack betting strategies.
Depending on the Blackjack rules specific to the casino, these may include:
Insurance bets are placed if/when the dealer shows an Ace as his up card. Essentially, they are wagers that safeguard players against losing their entire initial bet if the dealer holds a natural (an Ace plus a 10 card). Not all, but most casinos permit this type of bet.
- Even Money
Players who receive a Blackjack hand (Ace plus a 10 card) when the dealer displays an Ace up, may accept even money. This betting option is undertaken before the second dealer card is revealed.
It is another form of insurance; this time, against a tie between the dealer and the player. Should the dealer also hold a Blackjack hand, the game results in a push and no money is awarded the player.
- Splitting Pairs
Examples of paired hands include 9♦ + 9 ♥ and 8♣ + 8♠. You may split these into two separate hands.
To do this, you post another bet equal to your initial wager. For instance, if your first bet was $5, you must put down exactly $5 to split your pair. The dealer separates your hands and you take separate actions per hand.
- Double Down
Here, you duplicate your wager and receive one more card.
To do this, place the additional bet next to your first. The dealer will issue you one more card to close the hand.
Learn Blackjack Rules: The Dealer Shows his Hand
After all the players have either busted or stayed with their hands, the dealer turns over his face-down card to reveal his point total. If the dealer's hand has a total point value of 17 or better, he must stay; if his hand has a total point value of sixteen or lower, he must hit until his score exceeds 17 points.
Learn Blackjack Rules: Wins & Losses
Part of learning how to play Blackjack means knowing which hands pay and who wins what. Here's the breakdown:
- If the dealer busts, all active players in the hand win their bets.
- If the dealer's score is between 17 and 20, any player with a score better than the dealer's wins his bet.
- If the dealer scores 21, any players with scores below 21 lose and any players with a score of exactly 21 tie (or "push"); they keep their original bet but don't win any additional bets.
Learn Blackjack Rules: The Best Blackjack Hand
The best possible starting hand is an ace with a ten-value card (ten or face card). This is called a "natural" or a "blackjack". It pays $15 on a $10 bet in most cases.
That wraps up Blackjack rules. Visit our game tips page for strategy and advice on how to win.