How to Play Blackjack

How to Play Blackjack

Posted on November 13, 2023 by in Gambling
How to Play Blackjack

Blackjack is one of the most popular and timeless casino games. Also known as 21, Blackjack is a fascinating blend of luck and strategy, where the player competes against the dealer with the ultimate aim to hold cards that sum up to or close to 21, without exceeding it. This guide provides a detailed explanation of the game’s rules, strategies, and etiquette, empowering you to confidently partake in this classic game.


Blackjack is typically played with one to eight standard decks of 52 cards. The game begins with each player making a bet. After the bets have been placed, the dealer deals two cards to each player and to themselves. One dealer’s card is face-up for all to see, while the other is face-down. Each card in the deck has a particular point value.

  • Cards 2 to 10 are worth their face value.
  • Face cards (Jack, Queen, King) are worth 10 points.
  • Aces can be worth either 1 or 11 points, depending on what is most advantageous for the player’s hand.

The primary objective of the game is to have a hand value closer to 21 than the dealer’s without exceeding 21.

Player’s Choices in the Game

After receiving the initial two cards, players have several options. Understanding these choices is crucial to developing a winning strategy:

  1. Hit: This means you are asking the dealer for another card to increase your total.
  2. Stand: When you’re satisfied with your hand total, you choose to stand, signaling the dealer that you require no additional cards.
  3. Double Down: After receiving your first two cards, you can choose to double your initial bet and receive exactly one more card. This is typically done when the total of your initial two cards is particularly advantageous.
  4. Split: If your first two cards are of the same rank, you can choose to split them into two separate hands. You then have to make an additional bet equal to your original one.
  5. Insurance: If the dealer’s up card is an Ace, players have the option to take insurance, a bet that is half of the player’s original bet. If the dealer has blackjack, the insurance bet pays 2:1.

The Dealer’s Play

Unlike players, the dealer doesn’t have a range of choices. After all players have completed their hands, the dealer reveals their face-down card. If the total is 17 or more, they must stand. If the total is 16 or less, they must take a card (hit) until their total is 17 or more. If the dealer exceeds 21, all players who have not already busted (exceeded 21) win.

Blackjack Strategy

While Blackjack is a game of chance, there’s also a strong element of strategy involved. Basic strategy guides can provide a statistical framework for how to act based on your hand and the dealer’s visible card. For instance, if your hand total is between 12 and 16, and the dealer’s up card is 7 or higher, basic strategy suggests you should hit.

Remember, Blackjack isn’t about getting as close to 21 as possible, but rather beating the dealer. Sometimes, standing on a hand that could potentially bust if you hit is your best course of action.

Table Etiquette

When playing Blackjack in a casino, it’s essential to follow proper table etiquette:

  1. Hand Signals: To hit, swipe your fingers toward yourself on the felt. To stand, wave your hand, palm open, over your cards. To double down or split, add your additional bet to the side of your original bet, not on top of it. And don’t touch your chips once the cards have been dealt.
  2. Avoid Touching the Cards: In games where the cards are dealt face-up, never touch them.
  3. Respect the Dealer and Other Players: Remain patient and friendly. Everyone is there to enjoy the game.


Blackjack is a thrilling blend of strategy and chance. By understanding the rules, following the basic strategy, and respecting the etiquette, you can increase your chances of success at the table. Remember, the aim of the game is not just to win, but to enjoy the process. With practice and patience, you can become a skilled blackjack player.


  1. What is a “Blackjack”? A “Blackjack” is an Ace and any 10-value card dealt as the initial two cards. This hand automatically stands and typically pays 3:2.
  2. What happens if both the player and the dealer have the same hand value? This situation is called a “push”, and the player’s bet is returned to them. No money changes hands.
  3. What does it mean to “bust” in Blackjack? “Busting” means that your total hand value has exceeded 21. If you bust, you automatically lose, regardless of the dealer’s hand.
  4. When should I split my hand? It is generally good practice to split Aces and 8s. Splitting 10s is often discouraged as it is a strong hand already.
  5. What does “double down” mean? Doubling down is an option for the player to double their bet while receiving only one more card. This is a riskier move but can lead to higher earnings if used strategically.
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