Learn To Play Blackjack

How To Play

Blackjack is the most popular casino table game. The object of the game is to have your cards total higher than the dealer’s hand as near to 21 as possible without going over. The dealer begins the game by dealing each player two cards and the dealer one card up and one card down.


Cards are counted at their face value. Kings, Queens and Jacks count as 10. Aces count as 1 or 11 at your option. Winning hands are paid at even money. If the first two cards you are dealt total 21 (any 10-value card and an Ace), you have blackjack. Blackjack pays one and a half times your bet*. You cannot lose, but you could tie if the dealer also has blackjack. If you are dealt any combination other than blackjack, you can either “stand” (take no more cards) or signal the dealer for a “hit” (draw additional cards). You indicate standing by tucking your cards under your bet. You signal the dealer for a hit by scratching (or brushing) your cards on the layout. On a “shoe” game (face-up) you signal for a hit by brushing your hands towards you behind your wager. The signal for standing is a right-to-left wave behind your bet.

After all of the players have acted on their hands (either by hitting or standing), the dealer will expose his “hole card” (down card) and take additional cards or stand according to the following rules: If the dealer’s total is 17 or more, he MUST stand. If his total is 16 or less, he MUST hit until his hand totals 17 or more or “busts” (exceeds a total of 21).* If the dealer does not bust and your card count is closer to 21 than the dealer’s hand, you win; if it is less, you lose.

* Dealer must hit “soft” 17.

If you tie the dealer, it is called a “push” – you neither win or lose, and the dealer will leave your original wager in the betting circle.

Player’s Hint: Remember, the objective of the game is to get a better hand than the dealer without going over 21. Before making your decision to hit or stand, pay close attention to the dealer’s “up” card.

Blackjack Options – Splitting Pairs

If you are dealt two cards with equal value, you have the option of “splitting” them into two separate hands. A “split” is simply two hands played separately. You must match your original bet if you split. You may “re-split” a pair up to three times (making up to four separate hands). You may take as many “hits” as you like on each hand. However, if you split a pair of Aces, you will receive only one card on each of the hands, but if one of the “hit” cards is another Ace, you may re-split.* 21 on split Aces is not considered a blackjack and pays even money.

Player’s Hint: Many players consider splitting pairs a good bet when the dealer has a poor “up” card showing.

Doubling Down

Players also have the option of increasing their wager by “doubling down.” After receiving your first two cards, you may “double down” by increasing your wager up to the amount of your original bet and receive only one additional card. You may “double down” on any two cards.

Player’s Hint: This is a very popular play when you have 10 or 11 and the dealer has a poor “up” card.


If the dealer’s “up” card is an Ace, you have the option of making an “insurance” wager. You may wager any amount up to half your original bet that the dealer’s down card has a value of 10. That is, you are wagering that the dealer has blackjack. If the dealer’s hole card has a value of 10, you will be paid 2-to-1 on your insurance wager. If the card has a value other than 10, the dealer takes your insurance wager.

After receiving your first two cards, if you feel that you probably cannot beat the dealer’s hand, you are allowed to “surrender” by giving up half of your bet before the dealer acts on his hand. Simply announce verbally to the dealer that you wish to surrender when it is your turn to act on your hand.

* Re-split of Aces and Surrender do not apply to double-deck.
** 6-to-5 on Single deck