Blackjack basic rules
Blackjack is also known as “21” since the objective of the game is to obtain 21 points with the cards in the hand or the amount closest to 21. If you go over this figure, you lose.
In short, you will play against the dealer at a circular table where there can also be more players, up to a maximum of 7, but none of them will be your rival since all of you will play against the dealer.
If you hit 21 or higher than the dealer without going over 21, then you win. If the dealer has 21 or higher than you without going over 21, the dealer wins. If you both have 21 or the same amount without going over 21, the tie (push) occurs unless one of you has Blackjack.
The Blackjack play is the highest you can get in a hand and consists of obtaining the 21 points sought only with the two initial cards that the dealer gives you at the beginning of the hand. It would be achieved with an “Ace” that adds up to 11 and a figure that adds up to 10, if you get this hand you will win and the payoff of the bet will be 3 to 2. You must bear in mind that obtaining 21 points with more than these two cards is not considered Blackjack and the bet is paid 1 to 1.
Value of the Ace and the rest of the cards (hard hand and soft hand)
Before starting to play, let’s do a brief review of the value of the cards:
- The numbered cards that start from 2 to 10 have the value of the number indicated on the card.
- Face Cards (i.e. jack, queen and king) are worth 10 points
- The “Ace” changes value according to the player’s own convenience. It can have a value of 1 or 11 and you can decide in each hand what value you want to give the Ace.
We must also mention the expressions “hard hand” and “soft hand” that you will see and hear continuously at any Blackjack table:
Hard hand: this is a hand in which there is no Ace, for example if you have an 8 + 9 = 17 points, it would be a hard 17.
Soft or soft hand: this is a hand in which there is an Ace, for example if you have an Ace + 6 = 17 points, in this case it would be a soft 17.
Start playing Blackjack
You are already familiar with the objective of the game, with the values of the cards and the different hands that you can find. Now let’s really see how blackjack is played.
The first thing you will have to do is choose an available table, then you must place your bet. You cannot wait to see the cards to bet. After placing your bet, you will receive the cards. At each table there is usually a minimum and a maximum bet that you must always honour.
Once the betting round is closed, the dealer will proceed to distribute the cards to each of the players at the table. He will deal two cards face up per player, one card face up and one blind card that is face down for him.
From here, you will have to see if fortune has accompanied you with the cards and assess which available option is the best for you.
You can stand, hit, split, bet on insurance, double down or surrender
Do you find all these options very complicated? Don’t worry, they are not. We will explain each one of them and you will see that they are very simple and that by applying logic, you will be making the right choice:
“Stand “: meaning if you decide that with the cards you have you are fine and you do not want to risk going over 21 points with the cards you receive, you can say that you “Stand’’ and do not want more cards. You can stand at any time.
“Hit”: you can ask for as many cards as you wish adding to your points by saying “Hit”, but you must assess the real risk that when you receive the new card you might go over 21. If this happens and you go over, you will automatically lose and you will be out of the round. Since the risk of exceeding 21 is high, we always advise you to stand earlier and not risk everything for a very small probability.
“Betting on insurance “: what does this mean? Very simple. In a hand in which once the cards have been dealt the dealer has obtained an Ace, (in this case, the chances of the dealer making Blackjack and winning the hand are higher), the player will be offered the possibility to take an insurance. The dealer will ask each player if they want to make use of this option which consists of the player betting that the dealer will score Blackjack. In case the player wants to take an insurance, the player will have to make an extra bet for an amount equal to half the initial bet. If so, he must place the bet in the designated box that is on each table. Consequently each player will have to decide respectively if they wish to do the same. Once the bets are made, all hands will be played and if the dealer deals a face card, which means that he has Blackjack, the player loses his initial bet but wins 2 to 1 on the insurance bet. In the event that the dealer does not get Blackjack, the player loses the insurance bet and the initial bet will be won or lost based on their cards.
“Double Down” is usually done when the first two cards you have received are good and you think you have a better chance of winning. In this case you can double your bet by placing another bet on the table that is equal to the initial bet. When you double down, you will only have the right to receive one more card. The option to double the bet is usually advised when the starting hand is a 9, a 10 or an 11, but never when the dealer has an Ace or a face card.
“Split ” is when you receive two of the same cards (e.g. two 7s). You can split the hand in two and you will have to place another equal bet. Therefore you will play two hands in the same round. Each hand will be played independently following the usual rules. Normally, it is allowed to split any pair that is obtained, although in this regard each casino establishes its own rules. If you split two Aces, you should know that in most casinos they will only allow you to receive one other card.
“Surrender” means that the initial cards you receive from the dealer are not ideal and you probably will bust. In this case, you can choose the option to surrender and in doing so, you will at least recover half of the bet made.
“Push”or “Tie” when in the case that you and the dealer result with the same total value. Both lose the bet and therefore your bet is simply returned. If you doubled down then money is returned as well. Pay attention as this is different to when you both resulted in a bust (over 21). In this case, the dealer wins and takes your bet.
“Side Bets” Casinos also offer various Sidebets such as ‘Betting on Insurance’ as discussed above, ‘Perfect Pairs’, ‘21+3’ and others. These sidebets are mostly played based on chance rather than skill. Each table will have the sidebets listed with their respective payouts.
The dealer and his rules
It is also very important that you know how and with what criteria the dealer should play, since his movements are limited and he cannot act according to his own criteria.
- He must always play last. He can never play before the other players have played.
- He is obliged to always ask for a card until the total sum is less than 17 points (e.g. jack and 5)
- He should stand if its value is 17 or more.
With an Ace, it must be considered as 11 if with the sum of other cards it reaches 17 without going over 21. If not counted as 11, then the value would be as 1.
If the dealer reaches over 21, he is bust. All players that are still in the round win double their initial bet.
If the cards of the dealer are a no bust value, then only the player who has cards higher than the dealer wins the bet by twice the amount. All other players lose their initial bets.
In Blackjack, as in many other games, different versions or variants have appeared in which fundamentally we find the same basic operating rules with only some slight changes in the details and characteristics of the game.
We can mention among the best known versions the Pontoon (where you cannot see the dealer’s cards until the end of the hand); Blackjack Cashback (where in your worst hands you will have the opportunity to fold stand in exchange for an amount); or Blackjack Switch (where you will play with two pairs of cards and you can change the highest for others).
In any case, before sitting down to play at a Blackjack table, take a good look if there are any variations in the game and the specific rules. Better be safe than sorry.
Frequently Asked Questions
When is Ace worth 1 or 11?
The Ace is worth 11 unless when added to the rest of the cards the points exceed 21. Otherwise it would be worth 1
Is there a strategy that increases the odds of winning?
In Blackjack as in the rest of the games of chance where fortune plays a very important role, there are thousands and different types of strategies whose objective is to increase profits. But it is clear that none of them can guarantee more profits safely.
What are the differences between Blackjack played in land-based casinos and online Blackjack?
There really are no big differences between one and the other, as far as the rules of the game are basically the same. Let’s say that intuitive and observant people will notice more, the fact that playing online they do not have the contact and the real sensations that occur when they are with other players or with the dealer and that on many occasions can help to decide a play.
Is card counting legal in Blackjack?
Despite all the conspiracy theories that circulate in the gaming world on this subject, we can say that card counting is legal and is one of the most used and known strategies among the most expert Blackjack players.
How many times can I hit during a Blackjack game?
You can hit as many times as you want as long as you don’t go over 21.
When should I request a new card?
It is advisable that you ask for an additional card as long as you are not 17 or more, since if you hit with 17 or more it is very likely that you will go over 21 and lose.
Well, this is as far as we’ve come. If you have read our guide on how to play Blackjack you will be more than ready to sit at a table (either in a physical casino or online) and start testing your knowledge and luck.
Always play responsibly and on legal platforms that have a valid gaming license. Be prudent and always leave on time. We wish you the best of luck, enjoy it !!