How to Play Blackjack

This is a basic guide for playing blackjack at the tables of a casino. Most of this will be very familiar to anyone who has played the game before. However, some people may not be aware of the basics, so this post if for them.


The object of blackjack is to achieve a total that is greater than that of the dealer, and yet remains less than 21. The dealer is essentially your only opponent in the game, even when there are others playing at the same table. Keep in mind that a total hand exceeding 21, is called bust, and automatically loses.


  1. All players place their bets.
  2. The dealer deals one card to each player, and then one to himself. Players cards are dealt face up, while the dealers’ remains face down (called the hole card).
  3. This is done once more, but this time only the players are dealt cards, all face up. Beginning with the player to the left of the dealer, each player considers his cards, and decides whether or not to draw further cards.
  4. After all the players have completed their hands, the dealer draws cards to complete the dealers’ hand. After seeing one of the dealers cards, each player must make a decision to either hit, stand, pair split, double down or surrender. These options can be explained as follows:


Meaning, you want to draw another card.


You don’t want to draw further, i.e. you want to “stand” on the cards you currently hold.

Pair Split

If you have two cards of the same value (two sixes, two tens, a king and a jack, and so on), you may split the cards into two separate hands. In order to do this, you must place an equal bet on each of your hands. You are essentially becoming two players – and taking double the risk for double the reward.

Simply place a second pile of chips in the betting circle right next to your initial pile, in the same amount. If you’re playing a single- or double-deck game, you’ll also have to turn over your cards to prove you have a pair. After you’ve split your pair and doubled your wager, you now have two hands.

Both hands are treated separately, meaning you play one hand out before proceeding to the next hand. There are three reasons to split a pair, first, to increase your winnings, second to decrease your losses, and third to transform a loss, into a win.

Doubling Down

If your first two cards total 9, 10 or 11, you can chose to make an additional bet in exchange for another card from the dealer. The bet must not exceed your original bet.


If the first card dealt to the dealer is an ace, the dealer will announce “Insurance”. You may then place a blackjack insurance bet of no more than half your original bet, to insure your hand should the dealer make Blackjack.

Card Values

Cards are valued as follows: ” Picture cards (king, queen, and jack) are worth 10 ” Ace is valued at 11, except if the total hand reaches 21, in which case it can be valued at one. ” Numerical cards are worth face value

Dealers Rules

A dealer must draw when the dealer’s hand totals less than 17 and stand when the total is 17 to 21. In some casinos, dealer’s must stand on soft 17 (soft=an ace with another value card) and in others they must hit (it’s better for the player if the rules specify the dealer must stand on soft 17).

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