Blackjack Rules

Blackjack is one of the most popular card games at casinos, particularly owing to its simple rules. Even beginners can easily learn and understand the rules of blackjack, and if they master a few basic blackjack strategies, they can make quite a profit at the blackjack tables. Beginners don’t even have to spend fortunes on blackjack books and CDs; they can find plenty of high-quality blackjack information at online gaming portals.

blackjack decksThe Deck

When playing Blackjack, the standard 52-card pack is used. The game can be played using a single deck or multi-decks. To avoid card counting, most casinos use more than one deck. For example, it is quite common for online casinos use between 6-8 decks, the six deck game (312 cards) is the most popular. When playing Blackjack with a dealer, they will thoroughly shuffle the portions of the pack until all of the cards have been adequately mixed and combined. Once this is done, the dealer then asks one of the players to ‘cut’. This is where a blank plastic card is inserted towards the bottom of the pack. The plastic card indicates when the deck should be reshuffled and means that the last 60-75 cards will not be used. This process makes professional card counting harder to achieve and enables the casino to prevent players from having an advantage.  When 4 or more decks of cards are used, the cards are dealt from a shoe. This is a box that enables the dealer to remove each card one at a time (face down). It also means that the dealer does not have to hold one or more packs.


Card Values & Scoringblackjack card values

Before playing blackjack, players should understand the value of each card in the deck. An ace is either 1 or 11, depending on the players’ convenience. The deuces, threes, fours, fives, sixes, sevens, eights, nines, and tens are taken at face value. Face cards or picture cards such as king, queen, and jack are considered to be equal to 10. Blackjack does not give any value to suits; accordingly, a seven of spades and a seven of diamonds equals seven irrespective of their suits. If a player has a hand with an ace and a six, he/she is said to have a soft 17; and in this case, the value of the ace is taken to be 11.

The Objective

The objective of blackjack is very simple and easy to understand. The player has to beat the dealer, this is achieved by creating a hand that is closer to 21 than that of the dealer. However, the value of the hand should not exceed 21. If it does, the player will have lost the game. Since blackjack is a game played against the house, players need not worry about the other players at the table. Everybody at a blackjack table is playing against the house. Players can easily view one another’s cards, and the dealer can view what the players have got. Beginners are also encouraged to ask questions so that they can make better decisions.

Blackjack Basics

A game of blackjack begins with players placing a bet, after which two cards each will be dealt to the players. The dealer also receives 2 cards, one of which is placed face up. If case of shoe games, players are not allowed to touch their cards; however, in case of hand-held hands, players can pick up their cards, but should do so only with one hand and should keep the cards over the table. The rules, however, vary from casino to casino and are usually printed on the blackjack table.

Blackjack Strategy

Once the cards are dealt, players need to make a move. Players who have an understanding of basic strategy will fully assess their options and use their knowledge to make optimal decisions. Players can surrender, or choose to fold by forfeiting half their original bets; hit or receive a fresh card; stand or stop receiving any more cards; double down or place double their original bets to receive a fresh card; split their hand in two hands and play them separately; place an insurance bet under the assumption that the dealer will get blackjack.

Hit or Stand

blackjack hitblackjack stand






Once the player has been dealt two cards they can either hit or stand. Players can signal their intentions to ‘Hit’ by scratching the table with a finger or two. Alternatively, the player can also wave his or her hand to signal ‘come here’. To stand, players simply move their hand sideways, palm down and just above the table. Players can also say “Stand” or “No more”. Remember to speak clearly and ensure that the dealer has heard your intentions.

  • Always hit hard 11 or less.
  • Stand on hard 12 against a dealer 4-6, otherwise hit.
  • Stand on hard 13-16 against a dealer 2-6, otherwise hit.
  • Always stand on hard 17 or more.
  • Always hit soft 17 or less.
  • Stand on soft 18 except hit against a dealer 9, 10, or A.
  • Always stand on soft 19 or more.

Double Down

blackjack double down






When the original two cards that  a player has been dealt totals 9, 10 or 11, the player has an option to Double down. The player can choose to place a bet that is equal to the original bet. The dealer will then give the player one card which is placed face down. This card will not be turned up until all bets have been settled. The dealer does not have an option of splitting or doubling down.

  • Double hard 9 vs. dealer 3-6.
  • Double hard 10 except against a dealer 10 or A.
  • Double hard 11 except against a dealer A.
  • Double soft 13 or 14 vs. dealer 5-6.
  • Double soft 15 or 16 vs. dealer 4-6.
  • Double soft 17 or 18 vs. dealer 3-6.


blackjack split






If a player’s first two cards are the same (e.g. two eights or two jacks) they can choose to treat them as two separate hands. The amount placed in the original bet will then go on one of the cards, with an equal amount being placed as a bet on the other card. The players first play is the hand to his or her left. They can choose to hit or stand one or more times. Once this is done, then the player can move to the hand on the right. Thus, the two hands are treated separately. In a sense, two games are being played at once and are treated on their own merit.

  • Always split aces and 8s.
  • Never split 5s and 10s.
  • Split 2s and 3s against a dealer 4-7, and against a 2 or 3 if DAS is allowed.
  • Split 4s only if DAS is allowed and the dealer shows a 5 or 6.
  • Split 6s against a dealer 3-6, and against a 2 if DAS is allowed.
  • Split 7s against a dealer 2-7.
  • Split 9s against a dealer 2-6 or 8-9.


If the dealers upcard is an Ace, the player can choose to make a side bet called Insurance. If the dealer gets the blackjack, the player will benefit from a return on stake. The insurance bet actually protects players’ original bets in case the dealer gets blackjack; but if the dealer does not have blackjack, players will lose their insurance bet. Placing the insurance bet is a bit dangerous and players should avoid it unless they are expert card counters.

Game Variations


blackjack vegas strip

blackjack spanish 21

blackjack pontoon






Blackjack is a classic card game that has evolved and now has many variations. Different countries have put their own spin on this game and there are now different versions which are popular in Asia, Australia, America and Europe. Most online casinos offer more than one version of the game in their casino lobby and each has a unique twist. Some blackjack variations are exclusive to select software providers, which in turn means that they are only offered at select casinos. Below is a list of popular variations of Blackjack , so if you want to seek a thrill and try something new, then why not try your hand at these:

  • Atlantic City Blackjack – This variant allows players to double down on any two cards. It also allows players to double after a split.
  • Blackjack Switch – Each player receives two hands. One card from each hand can be switched.
  • European Blackjack – This is played using four decks. There is a round of betting before cards are dealt and Blackjack pays out 3-2.
  • Multi-Hand Blackjack – Players are allowed to play more than one hand per round.
  • Pontoon – This is a variant that is popular in Asia and Australia. In this unique twist, the dealer has no hole card and is unable to peek at their second card until the end of the round. In addition, an Ace in a pre-double hand always has a value of 1.
  • Spanish 21 – This is also known as Spanish Blackjack. In this game, 10 cards are removed, which leaves a deck of 48 cards. There are also extra payout options. For example, players can get a seven card 21 at 3 to 1. Late surrender options are also available and any number of cards can be doubled down.
  • Vegas Strip – This variant is a Vegas-style way of playing Blackjack.  If the dealer shows an Ace or 10 point value card, they are instantly required to check for Blackjack. This is done before the player is allowed to take their turn. This variant also allows players to double down on both cards, irrespective of their starting score. Players can also split up to three times, as well as double down after a split.