A Beginner’s Guide to Blackjack Rules
Blackjack rules are fairly simple, but you need to know them to prevent yourself from looking stupid at casino tables. Knowing the rules also comes with the added advantage of improving your odds of winning.
So, we have made it our mission to help all beginner players learn blackjack rules as quickly as possible. So, read on to learn the ins and outs of playing this classic casino table game.
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Basic Blackjack Rules
We are going to try to explain how to play blackjack in the simplest way possible. We will go through everything you need to know step-by-step below:
- The aim of online blackjack is to beat the dealer by getting your hand score as closes as possible to 21 without going over.
- The player with the highest score wins the round. However, if your hand score goes over 21, you lose instantly.
- Scoring works as follows:
- All numbered cards (2-10) retain their face value.
- An ace is worth either 1 or 11 points, depending on the hand it appears in.
- Face cards are all worth 10 points.
- A natural is a score of 21 with your first two cards. It is an Ace and another 10-point card.
How to Play Blackjack
- Before a round starts, you need to place a bet. Depending on the casino and table you play at, table limits could vary between $1 and $500 per hand.
- Once you place a bet, it is not returned unless you win. Remember that your hand is played before the dealer’s. So, you lose even if the dealer goes bust.
- At the start of a new round, you get two cards. Based on the score of your hand, the following options will be available to you:
- Hit – to ask for an extra card.
- Stand – keep the cards you have been dealt with the hopes of beating the dealer with your current hand.
- You need to signal your intention to get a new card in a land-based casino with a wave of a hand.
- In a land-based casino, a player will cut the deck of cards. Usually, this is done with a plastic insert. As a result, 60 to 75 cards in a deck won’t be used.
- A standard blackjack game uses about 6-8 decks, depending on the variation.
Unique Blackjack Rules
There are a few blackjack rules that make the game slightly more complicated. Often, the rules governing these actions will vary from game to game. However, here is an easy explanation to understand the concept:
- Split Rule – in some blackjack variations, it is possible to split two cards of the same denomination. For example, two 6s or two 8s. If you split your hand, you are playing two hands against the dealer’s – each with their own bet. Most variations have rules about how splits work, how many times you can split, and whether you can split on Aces.
- Doubling Down – a double down is a betting option that allows you two double your stake if you are dealt a starting hand with a value between 9 and 11. For example, if your hand is made up of two 5s, you will need to pick whether you want to split or double down.
- Insurance – an insurance wager is a bet on a dealer’s hand to be a natural. You get the option to make this bet when the dealer’s face-up card contains an ace. An insurance bet pays out 2:1, which means you make your initial bet back should you lose.
If you want a more detailed understanding of any of these rules, we recommend you visit our dedicated page.
Strategies in Blackjack
There are two strategies that blackjack is practically synonymous with: basic strategy and card counting. Here is what you need to know about both of them:
Basic strategy is the most popular strategy in blackjack. It was crafted with the help of a blackjack simulator which ran through thousands of simulations and determined which responses to hands are most likely to lead to victory.
For example, the strategy chart says that if you have a hand of 16 and the dealer is showing an 8, you need to hit for the best chance of winning.
The basic strategy won’t ensure you win every hand. However, statistically, you are giving yourself the best odds of a positive outcome. If you are a new player, the strategy chart can seem a little intimidating, but it is something you will learn with time if you keep it nearby while playing.
Many people think that card counting is illegal. However, this is not true. Although the strategy is frowned upon by casinos, it is not illegal for you to count cards. The worst thing that will happen to you if you are caught counting cards is that you will be banned from the casino.
Popular media often portrays card counting to be a strategy where players always win. But this is not true. Rather it is a strategy to keep count of which cards are still in the deck so you can make summations about outcomes.
You will still lose hands, but you can make calculated decisions for when to bet big with your knowledge of the deck. Often, casinos attempt to negate the effects of card counting by shuffling the deck after each hand.
If you are not afraid of being banned from a casino, you can try card counting at land-based casinos. Unfortunately, card counting will not work while playing online due to the nature of how RNG algorithms work.
Check out our other blackjack guides:
Blackjack Rules – FAQs
Here are the basic blackjack rules you need to know to get started in the game:
1. Your aim is to beat the dealer with a hand score that does not exceed 10.
2. All numbered cards keep their face value, while face cards are worth 10. Likewise, an ace is worth either 1 or 10 points, depending on when you use it.
3. You get two cards to start with, but you can ask for more if you want to improve your hand score.
16 is the worst possible score in blackjack. Whether you hit or stay is dependent on the dealer’s hand. The basic strategy recommends that you hit on 16 if the dealer is showing an 8 or 9. This is because the dealer needs a ten to get a better score than you.
You should never hit on a hand with a score of 17 or greater. The reason is that your odds of busting are very high. All you need is a card with a value of more than four to go bust.
5 Card Charlie is a blackjack rule that states a player automatically wins if they can accumulate five cards without going bust. As blackjack shoes are made up of between six and eight decks, there is potential for such a situation to occur. However, it isn’t as common as players would like.
If you tie with the blackjack dealer, your bet is pushed. This means you will be paid out in the next round if you win. Ultimately, this rule means you lose fewer hands.
Blackjack involves both skill and luck. You need to be a skillful player to know when to hit and when to stand. However, if you are already playing with a basic strategy in mind, then the remainder of the outcome is luck. (You will never be able to take luck out of the game.)