How To Play Blackjack: The Rules Of Blackjack
Blackjack is one of the most popular casino games around. This is, in part, due to how simple a game it is – within minutes, anyone can pick up the basics and understand what’s going on at the table. That doesn’t mean it’s easy to win – you need a decent blackjack strategy, and a fair amount of luck, if you’re going to do well.
How To Bet On Blackjack
Betting on blackjack is relatively straightforward, considering you must place your bets before your hand is dealt. From playing in a casino to trying online blackjack, you’ll likely bet using chips rather than cash. There’ll be a minimum bet for the table, so you’ll need to make sure your bet at least matches that amount.
If you’re playing at a table with multiple empty seats, you’ll usually be permitted to play multiple hands if you want to. Some games or casinos require you to bet at least double the minimum bet for each hand you play, if you want to play multiple hands in a round.
Insurance In Blackjack
If the dealer’s face up card in their hand is an ace, you’ll be offered the chance to place an insurance bet. Insurance is your get-out if the dealer does have a 10-value card face-down, since you can’t win your bet, the best you could do is push (when you have the same value as the dealer, and so your bet is returned).
Insurance bets cost half of your original stake, and pay out at 2-1. If you take insurance and the dealer does have 21, you’ll lose your original bet (unless you also have 21) but make enough on the insurance bet to break even. If the dealer doesn’t have 21, you lose the insurance wager.
In addition to insurance, many online games offer a number of blackjack side bets which can provide additional opportunities to win cash from your play.
The Basic Rules Of Blackjack
Before learning more about the game and perfecting your strategy, it’s wise to familiarise yourself with the rules and understand how to play blackjack so that you have a solid foundation on which to build and develop your skills.
Whether you’re playing in a casino or taking a seat at a live blackjack table online, the basic rules of the game are generally the same. A hand of blackjack starts with players making bets. You bet before any cards are dealt, so you’re not making your bet based on your hand. Once all bets are placed, the dealer will deal two cards to each player at the table. They will also deal two cards to themselves, with one card face up and the other face down.
The objective of Blackjack is to have a higher score than the dealer, without exceeding 21. Any number cards count as their face value towards your total. Picture cards count as 10. An ace can count as either 1 or 11, depending on your preference with your hand.
When you’ve been dealt your cards, you have five actions you can take – stand, hit, surrender, double down or split. Read on for more detail.
Once you’ve finalised your hand, the dealer will act last. There is no strategy to the dealer’s play – they will always hit (draw another card) when their total is 16 or less. As soon as their total is 17 or higher, the dealer will automatically stand (stop drawing cards).
Players win blackjack by having a hand that is higher than the dealer’s, but still 21 or lower, or when the dealer busts but the player still has an active hand.
The Actions A Player Can Take In Blackjack
Once you’ve been dealt your two cards, there are five actions a player can take.
When you stand, this means that you’re happy with your hand and don’t want any more cards. Most casinos won’t let you stand lower than 12, but the odds of winning on a low hand aren’t worth it anyway. If you decide to stand, you just need to wait for all other players to complete their actions before the dealer will either stand or bust. If you’re playing in a casino, the hand gesture to stand is to wave your hand, palm down, over your cards.
The second main action available to blackjack players is to ask the dealer for another card. You can hit more than once, so if you’ve been dealt a low hand and draw another low card you may wish to keep playing. You should indicate a request to hit by tapping your index finger next to your cards. Don’t ask the dealer to “hit you” as this is poor etiquette. Casinos monitor gameplay on cameras and so all actions should be non-verbal.
This action isn’t always available, so check the rules of where you’re playing, but if you decide to surrender it means you wish to abandon your hand at the cost of half your original bet. If you feel like you’ve got a poor hand, but the dealer’s face up card looks strong, surrendering could help mitigate your losses.
If you wish to double down, you’re basically doubling your original bet in exchange for one more hit card. You can’t then hit again, so you’re gambling on whether that one more card is the one you need to get a winning hand. Double down and draw a low card, and you stand to lose twice as many chips. The best blackjack strategy is to double down on 11, when you’re hoping to hit a face card or a 10 to take you to 21.
If you draw a pair, you can take the option to split. Splitting means you’re playing two hands instead of one, and you must therefore double your bet in order to give each new hand the same equal bet as your original. If your pair is anything other than aces, you can play each hand as normal, drawing as many cards as you wish. In many casinos, splitting a pair of aces only allows you to draw one card for each.
Blackjack Payouts Explained
If you win a hand of blackjack against the dealer, you’ll be paid at a 1-to-1 rate, meaning you win back the same amount as you bet.
However, if you get a ‘blackjack’ hand – 21 with two cards (an Ace and a 10-value card) you’ll be paid at the higher rate of 3-to-2. So for example, if you bet $100 you’d win $100 on a normal winning hand, or $150 if you have blackjack.