Blackjack Rules
How to Play

Blackjack rules are important to understand when playing.  If played properly by using a simple basic strategy, the house edge is very low.

Blackjack is played on a table with a house dealer. Cards are dealt from a device called a “shoe” or a “CSM” (continuous shuffle machine) containing multiple decks. The games objective is for a player to have a completed hand totaling 21 or closer to 21 than the dealer’s hand. Any player’s or dealer’s hand with a sum over 21 is a “bust” and therefore loses.The card values are:

2 through 9 – count as their face value

10 through K – count as a ten value

Aces – count as eleven or one

How to Play Using Proper Blackjack Rules

Playing is simple. After wagering, two cards are dealt face up to each player. The dealer also takes two cards, one face up and one down, known as a “hole card.” Here are the blackjack rules for good play: 

Based on the “strength” of the player’s hand and the “value” of the dealer’s up card, the player must make one of five options:

Stand – If the player has a strong hand such as a 10, 8 totaling 18, s/he would stand by taking no additional cards.

Hit – If the player has a weak hand such as 8, 5 totaling 13, s/he may hit by requesting additional card(s).

Split – If the two cards are of equal value such as an 8, 8 the player can split by playing two hands for an additional wager.

Double Down – Player may elect to double down by requesting only one card after doubling his/her wager. One example would be a 7, 4 totaling 11. The player would hope to receive a 10 value card to make a total of 21.

Surrender - (Where permitted.) When a player has a very weak hand against a dealer’s strong hand, he/she may surrender the hand for ½ of the wager. One example would be a player with 15 and a dealer showing a 10 or ace up.

Two Card Hand Jargon

Stiff – A total of 12 through 16. (These are potential bust hands.)

Pat – A total of 17 through 20. (Players should always stand with these.)

Soft – Any hand containing an Ace. An A, 7 would count as 8 or 18.

All winning hands, except for Blackjack pay even money. A Blackjack is a two card hand containing an Ace and any ten value card. That payout is 3 to 2. Some casinos have reduced the BJ payout to 6 to 5. Stay away from these games if possible.

Prior to playing, it is important to learn basic strategy. It is easy to comprehend and with a little practice the house edge can be reduced to less than 0.5%. BJ basic strategy cards are available. You can find them on-line at Amazon. You can link to view and purchase them on this page.Most casinos do not object to any player using the cards for reference while playing.

Before You Play

Blackjack rules do vary between casinos so players should first “scout” the tables to look for liberal rules. In many jurisdictions the rules are posted at the table. If you do not see them, ask. Here is what to look for:

Blackjack pays 3/2

Split any pair

Double down on any two cards

Re-splitting allowed

Double after split allowed

Dealer stands on all 17’s

Other blackjack games called variants are increasingly popular in casinos today. Among them are Spanish 21, Blackjack Switch, Double Attack Blackjack, Free Bet Blackjack, and Three Card Blackjack. Strategy for these games does differ from basic strategy for the traditional game.  

Remember that the house always has the edge over the long term. The benefit of applying proper blackjack strategy is to increase your chances for short term gain.

Books, games, and strategy cards about blackjack can be found on Amazon. Direct link from this page to purchase.

Additional publications and videos about casino gaming and other products can also be found on Amazon. Click on the link(s) below to purchase.

Try free blackjack

If you're in a jurisdiction where online gambling is legal, here's a link to a list of Blackjack sites where you can try your luck (or skill):

Return to Home Page