How to Play Blackjack

Blackjack, we’re all familiar with it, but not everyone knows how to play it. It may need some luck, but most of the time, it’s your award-winning strategy that’ll make you win.

No set of formula will guarantee your win in blackjack. It might even take you several gameplays to understand the rule and start winning.

Whatever the case, you ought to know that the real person you’ll have to beat is the dealer. Not the other players with you, but the dealer.

If you’re new to playing blackjack or looking for some clarity on how to play blackjack, you’re in luck. Today, we’ll teach you how to play and win it.

Ready? Let’s go!

Objectives of Playing Blackjack

Before you get to know the rules in blackjack, let’s take a step back and understand what the goal of the game is.

There’s a ton of misconceptions out there on how to win blackjack, and you’d be surprised with the answer.

Like what we’ve mentioned earlier, your enemy is the dealer. The goal in every game of blackjack is to beat the dealer!

Winning Against the Dealer

Is it possible to win against the dealer? The answer is YES! The dealer must be defeated!

To win against the dealer, here are the different ways you can:

  • The hand value of your first two cards should be 21, while the dealer’s card is not.
  • The dealer’s hand value must exceed 21.
  • Your hand value should be higher than the dealers.

Losing Against the Dealer

There can’t be a winner without a loser. You could lose against a dealer if you’re not careful with your moves.

Here are some reasons why you could lose against the dealer:

  • The dealer has a card value greater than yours at the end of the round.
  • The hand value of your cards is more than 21.

But if there’s one silver lining to playing with dealers, is that they don’t have many playing options. They’re limited to drawing cards if their hand is less than 17.

There are also some casinos where the dealer must either hit or stand on soft 17. But between the two options, it’s more favorable for players when the rule forces dealers to stand on soft 17.

Understanding Card Values

In every card game, each card has a corresponding value. A game of blackjack uses the conventional deck of 52 playing cards. And unlike other card games, suits aren’t that important.

Here is the value of cards in a game of blackjack:

  • Face value cards – Numbers between 2 to 10 are taken at face value. It’s easy to remember!
  • Value 10 Face cards – Face cards like a king, queen, and jack cards, regardless of their suit, always have a card value of 10.
  • Value 1 or 11 – An ace is that one card you’d be lucky to have in a game of blackjack. An ace has interchangeable values. They could either be played as 1 or 11, depending on which value benefits your hand the most.

The Layout of Blackjack Tables

You’re one step closer to playing blackjack! But before we let you go, it’s time we acquaint you with the blackjack table.

We’re sure you’re familiar with how blackjack tables look like. It’s a semicircular table that plays 5 to 7 people, depending on the setup.

The players position themselves on the curved part of the table. The dealer, on the other hand, stands behind the table, opposite the players.

Rules of Blackjack for Beginners

Blackjack has a straightforward goal for its gameplay. Now that you’re familiar with it, we’re here to help you with the next steps.

It’s time to take you through the 6 basic gameplay rules of how to play blackjack.

1. Buying Chips

Before playing a game of blackjack, you’ll need to buy chips.

Unlike before, people walk up the table and lay down their money on the table to play. Today, times have changed. People have to buy chips as an important rule to play a game of blackjack,

Chips have a corresponding monetary value, based on their color. Most casinos use chips these days because it’s safer to use, and much more convenient to bring around. Not only that, but most cardgames use chips instead of cash.

Once you have your chips, your dealer will start counting how much you have to wager. When this is done, your chips will be returned to you and you’re free to place your bets.

2. Placing Your Wager

You have your chips, that’s great! The next step is to know how much you’re willing to put on your original bet.

Before a round starts, every player must put their bets in the betting circle. There’s usually a box called a betting spot in front of each player.

A player may put as many chips as they want, as long as it is within the betting limits. There’s also a minimum value a player may put as bets.

If you’re unsure of how much to put as your original bet, we suggest not going all in. This means that you shouldn’t put all your chips in one round. You can save some of your chips for the next game.

3. Dealing Cards

The match starts feeling serious once the dealer distributes the first two cards.

One card face-up to the players, and one card face down for the dealer. The dealer will distribute a second card to the players, but this time face down, and face-up for the dealer.

Both the player and dealer have a total of two cards at the start of the game.

4. Playing Your Hand

The real game starts when you start playing the cards on your hand. The dealer starts with the person on the very left until it reaches the end of the table.

You’ll have two cards in front of you that you’ll need to add up. Its total should range somewhere between 4 to 21.

If you’re lucky enough, you might even have a face card with a value of 10 and the second card that’s an Ace! When you have this, then congratulations because you’ve got yourself a blackjack!

A player who wins on their first-hand wins up to 2 to three times more than their original bet. Not only that, but the player may also choose not to continue playing the round.

If your two cards won’t immediately give you a blackjack, then you can play through the rounds.

Here are 5 ways how you can play the cards on your hand, and their hand signals.

Double Down: If the cards dealt in front of you are good, and you want to take in more, you can double your original bet. Once you do this, the dealer will deal with you with one more card.

Hand Signal: Place your bet on the left side of your original bet.

Hit: If you want your dealer to give you more cards, then hit.  The dealer can keep giving you until you choose to ‘stand.’ But, once your card goes over 21, then that’s a bust.

Hand Signal: Tap the table with your finger.

Split: If you have two cards with the same value, you can split them. When you choose this option, you’ll have to make another bet equal to your first one.

Once your cards are split, you can start playing each of them as a separate hand. You can even draw as many cards as you want for each hand. But, do note that you won’t be able to split ace cards.

Hand Signal: Put your second bet equal to your first. Make a peace sign, indicating that you want to split your cards.

Stand: If you’re happy with your face two cards, but you don’t plan to play it, you can choose to ‘stand.’ When you do this, the dealer will move to the next player.

Hand Signal:

  • Wave your hand; or
  • Put your palm on the table

Surrender: If you’re unhappy with the cards you were dealt with, you can give it up. When you do this, the dealer will remove one half of the value of your original bet. Some casinos allow players to surrender immediately, while others do not.

Hand Signal:

  • Draw a line across the table; or
  • Say the surrender, and draw a line across the table.

5. Dealer Plays

Your turn is done, and it’s time for the moment of truth. It’s time for your dealer to play their card.

You’ll have to pay close attention to the dealer’s face-up card. From there, you can decide between following the basic strategy to win the match or not.

You might be wondering, what is the basic strategy? It’s the mathematical way of playing out the card combinations in the round. When you follow basic strategy, you’ll more or less have an idea of what cards a player may have.

6. Payouts

The moment every player is waiting for, payouts. There are two scenarios than can pan out during payouts, one of which should be favorable to you:

Bust: Once the dealer busts, then they’ll start paying money equal to your original bet; or

Make a hand: If the value of your cards is somewhere between 17 to 21, you can play it against the dealer. If your hand is higher than the dealer’s you win! But if the value of your card is the same as the dealers, you can keep your money but nothing more.

Blackjack Rule Variations

There are various rules and conditions which can affect the gameplay of blackjack.

In short, each blackjack game is different and certain rules might vary. Here are some rules that might be affected because of the deviations.

6 to 5 Blackjacks

Some casinos reduce the payout to 6 to 5, instead of the regular 3 to 2 payout. When this happens it increases the house edge, at the cost of players spending more.

Continuous Shuffling Machines

Many casinos today make use of continuous shuffling machines. As its name suggests, it shuffles the card during the gameplay. Cards also don’t have to be discarded when this is in use, and they’re shuffled in with the deck.

When this machine is in use, it becomes impossible for a basic strategy player to win. Counting the cards would be impossible and hard.

Doubling After Splitting

You can double your bet on a hand you split because this is helpful to most players.

But, this rule varies from one casino to another. Some would allow you to double your bet after splitting, while others wouldn’t.

Re-Splitting an Ace

If you have two ace cards, you can split the two. A deviation to this rule is when you receive your third ace card, where you can also split it to have a fourth hand.

Splitting an ace card is very strategic in a game of blackjack, considering how powerful of a card an ace is. Some casinos don’t allow re-splitting an ace because it causes too much advantage to a player.

Single vs. Multi-Deck

The house edge of blackjack increases every time you add a deck of cards to the gameplay. For example, games that use 6 decks have a higher house edge than those that only use 2 decks.

There are pros and cons to playing a single deck versus multi decks. With single deck games, players can’t re-split their ace card, nor double their bets. While multi-deck cards would allow ace cards splitting, doubling of bets, among others.

Deviation from Normal Blackjack Games

No one blackjack game ends the same way. In some cases, special game situations and variations arise. When this happens, you can expect that the game will go in a different direction than the basic gameplay.

Once you’ve mastered the basic gameplay, here are some variations you can expect in your game.

Dead Hand

A round is considered a dead hand when all the players in the table busts. That means the player has a card value of more than 21, even before the dealer was able to play their hand.

At this point, the dealer has already defeated all the players in the round.

Even Money

When the dealer has an ace and a player has a blackjack, the dealer would ask if he wants even money.  Even money means the dealer will give you a 1 to 1 payoff before checking their hand for a potential blackjack.

Insurance Bet 

Players make an insurance bet when the dealer has an ace for their upcard. In turn, the dealer will also offer an insurance bet before anyone makes their move.

You and the players are betting on whether your dealer has a blackjack. If you win, you get up to 2 times more your original bet.

Once the players place their insurance money or side bets, the dealer will check their hole card. When this is going on, you’d want to hope that the dealer doesn’t have a 10 for their hole card.

If you’re a beginner, or not yet familiar with the variations, we recommend you say no to side bets. Only card counters can win against this odd.

Non-Insurable Dealer

It’s possible that you won’t need to make any insurance bets even with blackjack on the dealer’s hands. Most often than not, a side bet or insurance bets are only taken when an ace card is showing.

Side Bet

Side bets, like insurance, have become popular these past few years. Now, there are over a hundred types of side bets on top of the original wager. Nevertheless, you ought to remember that they are not part of the blackjack. 

Etiquette of Playing Blackjack

There are various blackjack rules, conduct, and strategies when playing blackjack. As much as possible, you’d want to win without stepping on anyone’s shoes.

Keeping the integrity and security of the games are unwritten rules players observe. These are called etiquettes which seasoned players observe.

If you know of these etiquettes, you won’t have a problem with your fellow players and the dealer.

The rule of blackjack isn’t the only thing you need to remember. Here are some etiquettes to help you have a happy round with other players.

Dealing Money

As a rule of thumb, make sure to hand your money to the dealer. Every transaction you made, whether in cash or chip, must always be visible and monitored. Always put your bets in a visible spot, and tell your dealer how much chips you want.

Holding Cards

Playing cards are usually dealt face down. This is especially true for games that use one or two decks. When this is the case, make sure to pick up your cards using only one hand, instead of two. It reduces the suspicion of card switching, among others.

Interacting with Fellow Players

Meeting new people and getting to know them through a game of blackjack is one of the perks of the game. But, when things don’t go your way, you should never take out your frustration on your fellow paper.

The people you play with aren’t the reason why you lost. It could be of various reasons, but never the people you’re playing with.

Another important note when playing with others is that, don’t tell them how they should play.

Remember, each player has their strategy and is playing using their own money. Let them play how they want to. But, if someone reaches out to you for advice, don’t hesitate to help out a fellow player.

Objects on the Table

The blackjack table should only have the chips and cards used for playing. Thus, never put your wallets, purses, bags, on the table.

Instead, put it on your lap. You don’t want to cause any suspicion of card switching, nor do you want to obstruct the view of your fellow player.

Drinks are allowed on the table, but make sure to have a drink holder on hand. You don’t want your drink to spill on the table and ruin your game.

Removing Cards

Never put the cards away from the view of the dealer. They should always be placed where the dealer and security cameras can see them. Keep them on the table, and avoid placing them on your lap, or elsewhere.

Saying “Hit Me”

Movies often depict characters saying hit me in a game of blackjack. There’s nothing wrong with this while playing with your friends. But, if you’re playing in a casino, never do this.

Casino dealers are always looking for hand signals instead of verbal signs.

Stacking Your Chips

If you plan to wager chips with two or more denominations, stack the higher denomination on the bottom while the lower denomination on top.

Touching Cards

When your table is playing four or more decks of card, cards are usually dealt face up. Doing this prevents the players from switching or marking the card, and it speeds up the game.

So as much as possible, avoid touching your cards, especially because there’s no reason for you to do so.

Touching Chips

Once you’ve handed the dealer your original bet, it should remain untouched on the table until someone wins.

Final Words

There’s no one card that can guarantee your win in blackjack. Blackjack might sound like a hard game to play, but it’s winnable and beatable. As long as you follow the rules for blackjack and remember the steps to play, you won’t have a hard time winning. 

All it takes is some patience, tons of practice, and luck on your part. As you continue playing, you’ll develop strategies to help you win and reduce the house edge of your match,

What are you waiting for? Pray for that ace and face card, and you have yourself a blackjack!

We can’t wait to hear about your experience of playing blackjack! See our other guides on our homepage.

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