How to Play Blackjack

Your aim in a game of blackjack is to make a score of 21 or as close to 21 as possible without going over. The player competes against the dealer, who represents the house and has to play according to a strict set of house rules. Before playing it is always a good idea to check that the minimum and maximum bets at the blackjack table you are considering are suitable for you.

To bet, place the any amount of chips in front of you. You will then be dealt two cards face up, whilst the dealer deals himself the first card face up, and the second card face down.

All picture cards have a value of 10, cards 2-10 are face value, and aces can count as 1 or 11, depending upon the player's or dealer's hand.

If the dealer's face up card is an ace, the player has an option of placing a side bet called "insurance". The cost is half of the player's initial bet and pays 2 to 1 if the dealer has a blackjack (21 with two cards only). The dealer then checks the hole (face down) card to see if it has a value of 10. If the dealer doesn't have blackjack the bet is lost. If he does have it, then the player gets his original bet back if he uses insurance.

Assuming that the dealer does not have blackjack, the player can choose to play his hand as follows:

Stand
This means that the player stands with whatever cards have been dealt - usually because the player is happy with what the hand he already has or because he thinks that the dealer has a good chance of busting (exceeding a total of 21).

Hit
This means that the player takes an additional card to add to the existing hand. Players normally do this because they consider their current hand to be weak.

Split
If the player is dealt two cards of equal value (a pair of aces for example) he has the option of splitting them into two separate hands. An additional bet for the new hand is equal to the first bet. Now there are two hands available for the player to wager on. Blackjack normally doesn't pay 3 to 2 in this case, but some casinos change the rules of their game a little to allow this, greatly increasing your odds.

Double Down
The player doubles their bet and is dealt one more card only. This is only an option on the initial two card hand. This is perfect if you believe that your hand is going to win, or if your hand totals 11, since there are more 10-vale cards in the deck and your chances of getting 21 (blackjack) are much greater.

Surrender
In some online casinos the blackjack player has the option of surrendering half of his initial bet instead of playing out the hand. Surrendering is only available on the initial two card hand. This option is not available at every casino by any means, so you should check the rules at the casino before you start playing.

If a player's hand exceeds 21, they bust and lose the game. If the player is dealt an ace and a card with a value of 10, they have a blackjack and will automatically win a pay of 3 to 2 at most casinos. However, if both the player and the dealer has blackjack then it's a push, which means that nobody wins and you get your bet back.

After all players have played their hands, it is the dealer's turn to play out his hand. The dealer does not have an option on how to play out his hand, but follows a strict set of rules provided by the casino called house rules. One of the most important things to remember here is that the dealer must always stand if his hand totals 17 or more.

If the dealer busts, everyone at the table who didn't bust will win. If a player's hand is higher than the dealer's hand without going over 21, they win. If the dealer has a higher hand than the player without going over 21, the dealer wins. If the player and dealer have the same hand, a push is declared and the player's bet is returned.

Blackjack cheat sheet and strategy
Use the strategy card below to help you when playing blackjack online. They are designed specifically for online gambling use and they give you the greatest odds in the long term because they help you to make mathematically perfect decisions for each hand of blackjack that you play!


HIT
STAND
DOUBLE

Dealer's top card
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
A
Your cards
                   
5-8
H
H
H
H
H
H
H
H
H
H
9
H
D
D
D
D
H
H
H
H
H
10
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
H
H
11
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
D
12
H
H
S
S
S
H
H
H
H
H
13
S
S
S
S
S
H
H
H
H
H
14
S
S
S
S
S
H
H
H
H
H
15
S
S
S
S
S
H
H
H
H
H
16
S
S
S
S
S
H
H
H
H
H
17-21
S
S
S
S
S
S
S
S
S
S
A2-A6
H
H
H
H
H
H
H
H
H
H
A7
S
S
S
S
S
S
S
H
H
H
A8-A10
S
S
S
S
S
S
S
S
S
S

 

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