The purpose of this article is to outline the main Blackjack rules for you. They will be especially helpful if you are a beginner, but that does not mean that if you are an experienced player, you will not find this read useful. You may still come across rules that you have missed to see in the beginning. We are going to look into all the options a player has, such as splitting and doubling, surrender, hitting and standing, and much more. We will explain about betting patterns, hint at some things to watch out for and talk about side bets. All in all, we will give you a few Blackjack tips that will help you get the general idea of the game, as well as minimize losses and increase your profits. Continue reading.
Blackjack Rules – the Basics
Blackjack is a game in which players compete against the dealer, rather than against each other. Its alternative name is Twenty-one. It is one of the most popular table games in the world. The deck has 52 cards. There can be from one to eight decks in a game. Kings, queens, and jacks are called face cards. In Blackjack, they are valued as 10. An ace is valued as 11 or 1, according to the Blackjack rules. The rest of the cards are valued as the number written on them (i.e. a 3 is counted as 3) When the game begins, each player is given two cards. The higher the total of their hand, the better the chances of the player to win against the dealer. The score should not surpass 21, though. If it does, the player is said to “go bust” or simply “bust”, which means that they lose. The same applies to the dealer. If the dealer goes bust, the player wins with any score, as long as it does not exceed 21, as stated in the Blackjack rules. If the dealer has a bigger hand than yours (that does not exceed 21), you lose.
The final goal of each player is to beat the dealer. This is possible in a few ways:
- If the hand of the dealer surpasses 21 as a result of the dealer drawing additional cards; like we said, going over 21 results in a loss for the person who does it, according to the Blackjack rules;
- If you make a hand whose final score is higher than that of the dealer; or
- If you get a Blackjack with your initial hand, i.e. reach 21 points, without the dealer making a Blackjack as well. The Blackjack is also called “natural.” For it, you need a card that is valued at 10 (any face card or a 10), and an ace.
The Blackjack rules are fairly simple, yet they can be quite tricky. You need to practice a lot until you learn how to avoid the pitfalls and manage your bankroll wisely.
Before You Start Playing – Things to Watch out for
Before we jump straight to the Blackjack rules, let us tell you something. There are a few things you should do for your own sake before you start playing Blackjack. It is wise to spend some time at the casino, take a look at the surroundings, inspect the tables, observe the dealers, and check out the policy of the casino, to name a few. Here are more tips on what you should do before you begin your game:
- Consider playing at a table with a very small number of players. If you are just starting out, you need to be relaxed so that you do not mess thing up or forget the Blackjack rules. The best way to chill out is to stand at a table with not so many people around. If there are plenty of players, the game may be too slow and difficult to follow, especially for newcomers.
- See if a dealing machine or a shoe is used. While beginners may not see the difference, to experienced players who are already deeply acquainted with the Blackjack rules, this makes all the difference.
- Before you wager your money, it is wise to check out the minimum stakes available at all tables. Choose according to your bankroll. According to experts, your bankroll should be 40 times the bet you would like to make. If you think this is more than you can part with, then you can go with a bankroll that is a minimum of 20 times the bet you would like to place. This is the absolute minimum. What matters is how much money you can afford to part with without it affecting your life. Do not just think about the big amounts you can win. This is not yet real. And it may never be. You should be prepared to lose. So, this is why it is best to have a very clear idea of how much you are going to play with, rather than taking a leap in the dark. Then choose your table accordingly. It is all about discipline and strategy, and of course, about knowing the Blackjack rules. Try not to forget that.
- Remember that your goal is to make your hand as good as possible. Do not settle down. The dealer being on “soft 17” is a good option but you standing on that position is not advisable.
- When choosing a casino to play Blackjack, you should opt for one that pays 3-2 for the game. Do not be satisfied with less, such as 6-5. In that case, the casino will win more money, and you will be left with empty hands.
Counting in Blackjack
In our post about Blackjack rules, we are about to tell you about one of the first things you need to be aware of in Blackjack. If they use a shoe to deal the cards, it is important to remember that you need to track the high cards and whether they have already been dealt or they are still in the shoe. The bigger the percentage of high cards in the shoe, the greater your chances of getting a good hand. However, if the number of small cards in the shoe is bigger than that of the high cards, then your chances of winning are very small, if any.
It is important to remember, as a player, that the same cards will never show up again once they are dealt. Contrary to what some people think, it is not about tracking the cards that have been dealt; rather it is about tracking the ratio of the high cards that are on the table. As we mentioned previously in our Blackjack rules post, you will be in a good position if more high cards are in the shoe.
It is a good idea to practice that. The more you practice, the easier it will get to follow the high cards and calculate your chances of winning. Now, it is also wise to divide the cards into groups; mark them, so to say, but only in your mind. Here is how you can divide the cards (it is absolutely in compliance with the Blackjack rules):
- Neutral cards: 7s and 8s
- Low cards: from 2 to 6
- High cards: all aces, all face cards, as well as 9s and 10s
In addition, every time a high card is dealt from the shoe, be sure to subtract it from the total. Do not count neutral cards (7s or 8s). Last but not least, you need to add one to the count total if a low card is dealt. This is one useful strategy to go with.
Other Options for Blackjack Players
Next on our page about Blackjack rules, let us tell you what other options you have. More often than not, you can find information about the house rules in the form of notes placed on the tables. However, if there is no such information, you need to speak with the dealer and ask for all the details yourself. There is no way that they do not answer your question. They must provide information about the different rules.
In most cases, the other options for Blackjack players include the following:
- Soft doubles
- Early surrender
- Re-splitting of aces
- Double down after splitting
It is important to remember that the purpose of these Blackjack rules is to make the casino edge against players smaller so that it is in their favor as far as Blackjack is concerned.
How to Play Blackjack – General Information
Our post about Blackjack rules now continues with some details about how the game is played. More often than not, the dealing machine or the shoe is situated to the right side of the table. Players can place their bets in betting boxes or circles, which normally amount to seven. There also may be additional betting boxes for those side-bet opportunities. Depending on the casino, you may be asked to choose the denomination of your chips. Ideally, you will use the same denomination as that of the bet you are willing to make.
To begin playing, you need to put a chip in the betting box. After that, the dealer will distribute the cards to the people who have placed bets, as far as the Blackjack rules go. Every player receives two cards. The dealer gets cards as well. One of the cards is facing the table, and the one can be seen by everyone. The former is referred to as a “hole card”. If an ace appears in the dealer’s hand, a side bet is normally offered to the players. It is called “insurance.” If the card with the face down happens to be a 10-point card, 2 to 1 is paid to players because of the insurance. Insurance bets must not be higher than the original bet. They are not obligatory.
If the card that is facing up is an ace, the Blackjack rules allow you to make a bet that is half the amount of what you placed initially. If the dealer makes a Blackjack, you will win 2-1 on your money. In other words, you hand will be even and you will get your original bet plus your insurance bet refunded. However, if the dealer does keep playing their original bet and does not make a Blackjack, you will lose your original bet and your insurance bet. If you do not make it a habit to count cards, there is no point in taking insurance, no matter if you are a novice or an experienced player and regardless whether you know the Blackjack rules or not.
If the facing card is a 10 or an ace, the dealer will take a look at the card facing down to see if they make a Blackjack. If they do, all bets lose. The only exception is insurance bets. However, if you happen to have a Blackjack too, you will not lose your bets, according to the Blackjack rules.
The rules vary per country. In some places, the dealer will have one card with the face up but they will not take a second one until everyone at the table has played their hands out. In other words, they have no idea if the dealer will be able to have a Blackjack.
Facing Up or Down
You need to understand that the game can be played in two ways – with all cards facing up, which is the modern way; or with all cards facing down, which is the classic method. Both are in compliance with the Blackjack rules. When it comes to the newer method, players are not allowed to touch their cards. As for the old-school way of playing, you can look at your cards privately.
When you see the dealer’s card facing up, you need to make guesses about it and so should every other player who is at the table. According to the Blackjack rules, assumptions are made in order. Mind you that the chances of the dealer going bust are smaller if they have a seven or higher. For this reason you need to go out of your way to increase your hand’s total to be 17 at the very least. Once you figure out what you want to do, do not forget to let the dealer know. There is a special “Stand” in case you do not need more cards, and a “Hit” option if you need another card.
If you are a beginner, make sure to check the following tips and Blackjack rules, which will help you improve at Blackjack.
- Never change your strategy if you are stressed out or over the moon. You need to keep calm, regardless of the end result, or it may affect your thinking and you may lose your bets.
- Try not to be rude to the dealer or the players if your cards are not as good as you wanted.
- After placing your bet, it is not allowed to touch your chips.
- The Blackjack rules state that it is also unacceptable to touch your cards if you are playing the “up-game” version.
- If you are on the losing side, do not increase your bets. That way you can only maximize your losses.
Stand and Hit Rules
Keep in mind that what predetermines your strategy is the dealer’s card that is facing up and their hand in general. Here are the Blackjack rules you need to remember:
- You need to ask for more cards if the dealer’s hand is higher than seven. Your goal is to get a minimum of 17. If that happens, the dealer will give you a “made hand” after which you are not allowed to receive more cards.
- Keep asking for more cards if the dealer’s card that is facing up is a two. It is in compliance with the Blackjack rules. If you can reach a total of 14, you may get a chance to see the dealer going bust.
- However, you should be careful not to go bust if the dealer’s card facing up is between three and six. They will have to get another card, and chances are that their hand’s total will be higher than 21, which means that they will go bust.
Do not worry. It is okay not to know what to do. It happens to everyone, even to the best players. You should build a good strategy and understand the Blackjack rules. We also suggest you focus on reading as many tips as you can. Start by using ours.
- If the dealer has a 7 or an 8 in their hand, this is a good thing from a player’s point of view, as these cards are neutral. Note that you can still obtain a hand bigger than 17.
- If a dealer has between 3 and 6, this is in favor of the players. Chances are that these numbers cause the dealer to go bust. Of these, 5 is considered the best. That is, if the dealer has it, they will more likely go bust, which is good for the players. The Blackjack rules state that as long as your hand’s total is higher than that of the dealer, you win. So, all you have to do is get a hand that beats the dealer’s.
- From a player’s perspective, the worst cards that can end up in the dealers’ hand are an ace, L, Q, J, 10 and 9. With them, he or she can make a higher total than yours is if he or she draws a 10.
Another strategy we would like to talk about in this Blackjack rules post is Split. It is a strategy used in Blackjack to help players keep part of their hand by splitting it in two. It is used when they fear that they are going to lose. By using the splitting pairs, they get to lose only one hand. This serves to help generate bigger profits and also minimize losses.
The Blackjack rules of many casinos allow you to split hands or double down. If you have a couple of cards bearing the same value, you can opt for the splitting strategy. That is, you can create two hands and play them individually. If you decide to do so, you need to make another bet of the same size as the original one. If you play Blackjack at a land-based casino, the dealer is the one who does the splitting and plays the hands. Some online betting operators and mobile casino sites offer this option via their live dealers.
You should resort to splitting your hand only in cases when it will assure you bigger chances of winning than your initial cards. Here is how you can split your cards:
- If your hand has two 5s, do not split. It is not against the Blackjack rules. It is just not recommended to do so.
- If the dealer has a 5 or a 6 card facing up and your hand has two 4s, feel free to split hands.
- If there are two aces in your hand, you should definitely split, unless the dealer’s hand contains an ace (i.e. the card facing up) and it is a no-hole-card game you are playing. Also, if the dealer does not show an ace, a 10 or a 9, and you have a hand of two 8s, you should always split. Of course, whether you do split or don’t is up to you and is not dictated by the Blackjack rules. You are at liberty to do whatever you wish.
- If the dealer shows a 6, 5, 4 or 3, and you have a hand containing two 6s, split it. You should also split if the dealer shows a 7, 6, 5, 4 or 3, and you have a hand containing two 7s.
- If the dealer has a card between 2 and 7, and you have a hand with two 2s, split. If your hand contains two 3s and the dealer has a card between 2 and 7, again, split. It is not dictated by the Blackjack rules; it is just a good thing to do.
- If the dealer has a 9, 8, 6, 5, 4 or 3, and your hand has two 9s, you should think about splitting.
Our Blackjack rules article also covers the Surrender option in the game. There are many casinos out there these days that offer this option in Blackjack. It is used when the players see the dealer’s card, as well as their own hands. Some casinos do not let players surrender if an ace is present in the dealer’s hand. If the dealer takes a hole card, players might be allowed to surrender.
There are few situations in which you would consider surrendering as the best option to minimize your losses. Here they are:
- If you have a hand’s total, which amounts to 15 or 16, and the dealer holds an ace, it is a good idea to surrender. Again, it is not dictated by the Blackjack rules, it is just a safe way to go to keep some of the money you wagered.
- If the dealer has a 9 or 10 and your hand’s total amounts to 15 or 16, this is also a good time to consider surrendering.
Under any other circumstances should you surrender. It is not against the Blackjack rules, but it will cost you all the money you wagered, which also a common mistake in roulette gambling.
The Late Surrender option is available in a limited number of casinos. If it is present, players can surrender whenever they wish during the game. The strategies are pretty much the same as the ones we provided above. Keep in mind that surrendering should not be your goal.
Now, we would like our article about Blackjack rules to focus on soft hands. What are they? Let’s find out. A “soft hand” refers to a hand that holds an ace, especially if it has a value of 11. As you know, the ace in Blackjack can be counted as either 1 or 11. This means that you can improve your hand a couple of times and increase your chances of winning. Here is what you can do:
- Depending on the value of the ace, a hand of 7 and an ace can be worth 18 or 8. However, you can lose the hand if the dealer has a 9 or a 10 card facing up. You can keep on hitting by asking for another card. Your goal is to reach 17. Like we already explained, the Blackjack rules state that in order to win, your hand’s total should be bigger than the dealer’s. It does not matter what the figure will be, as long as it does not go beyond 21.
- You can significantly improve your hand if it has a 6 and an ace as a second card. The best thing you can do is to keep hitting until your hand’s total amounts to 17 or higher. As you know, to beat the dealer according to the Blackjack rules, you must have a hand’s total that is greater than their’.
- If your hand holds a 5, 4, 3, 2 or an ace as a second card, the value of your ace can be considered 1. You can use this to your advantage. Keep hitting until your hand’s total amounts to 17 or higher. When it comes to the Blackjack rules, you can win with any hand, as long as its total is greater than that of the dealer. A total of 17 is considered a strong hand.
- If your hand has a 9, 8 or an ace, you will either have a score of 20 or 19. Since you can barely improve that number, you had better stand.
Furthermore, we would like to talk about a useful strategy in this post about Blackjack rules.
A “hard hand” refers to a hand that does not have an ace. Many casinos allow their players to get a third card and double their wager at the same time. The new bet should be of the same size as the original one. Then the player is given another card. Their hand now consists of three cards.
The ideal time to double down is when the initial hand’s count amounts to 9, 10 or 11. Drawing another card will certainly help you get a better hand, especially if you are dealt a 10. Doubling down should be done at the right moment, and the Blackjack rules allow you to do it whenever you wish. Here are some tips for you regarding this strategy:
- If the dealer holds a card from 2 to 9, and your hand amounts to 10, feel free to double down.
- If the dealer holds a 6, 5, 4 or 3, and your hand amounts to 9, again, feel free to double. Be it as it may, if the dealer has an 8, 7 or 2, do not double down.
- You should double down if your hand amounts to 11; however, if the dealer has an ace, do not do this.
As we mentioned above in our Blackjack rules article, a “soft hand” refers to a hand that holds an ace. Depending on the total of the hand, it may be valued as 1 or 11. In that case doubling is not so common and not that important. If you want to know the truth, when it comes to doubling down on a soft hand, there are a couple of simple rules you need to abide by. Here they are:
- If the dealer has a 6, 5, 4 or 3, and your hand holds a 7 or 6 and an ace, feel free to double down.
- If the dealer has a 6, 5, or 4, and you are holding a 5, 4, 3, or 2 and an ace, again, feel free to double down.
In no other cases of a soft total should you consider doubling down.
The following section of our post about Blackjack rules will look into side bets. Let’s get to it.
- Five-card trick: Very few casinos offer this option. If you succeed in making a hand of five cards without going bust, then the operator will pay you a bonus out. You do not need to place extra bets to qualify for this one. However, if you manage to get such a hand, you will still need to choose whether you want to get the bonus or win the Blackjack hand. In most cases, it is recommended to ditch the bonus. After all, nothing can be as sweet as making a Blackjack.
- Perfect pair: With this type of side bets, your goal is to guess correctly that the two cards that will be dealt to you in the beginning will be a pair. If you do, the casino will pay you out 30-1 for a perfect pair, 12-1 for the same color pair and 5-1 for a mixed pair. This is the standard policy, it is not part of the Blackjack rules. The payout depends on the casino. This is a popular type of side bets. Although it looks tempting, there is no point in making such a bet. Perhaps you should leave it behind.
- Under or over 13: Here you have to guess whether the two cards dealt initially to you will be with a value bigger or lower than 13. You have to know that in this case an ace is valued as 1, as far as the Blackjack rules are concerned. Always. As for Blackjack, it is not 21. It is 11. Hence, if you choose under 13 and end up with two aces, you will be paid a bonus out of a 7-1 ratio.
- Magic 7s: If you make such a bet, it means that you are guessing that you will be drawn three 7s in a row. You will win the jackpot if they are of the same suit. This is another popular side bet.
Negative Positions in Blackjack – What to do
This part of our page about Blackjack rules is dedicated to negative positions. What are they? A negative position refers to a situation in which most high cards show up too early in the game. This puts players in a very bad position of -8. Here is what you can do to come through this unscathed:
- First of all, there is no point in surrendering and losing half of the bet. With a hand of 15, you still have a chance of winning.
- If the dealer has a nine and you have a hand of 15, do not surrender.
- Unless the dealer has a six or a five, do not think about doubling down on nine.
- Do your best to improve your hand’s total and make it as high as you can, e.g. shift from low teens to bigger teens. According to the Blackjack rules, you can win with any hand, as long as its total is bigger than that of the dealer.
- Use 12, 13 and 14 if the dealer has a 2 as an up card.
- There are minimum chances of the dealer going bust or you obtaining an amazing hand with just one card when doubling in these situations.
Positive Positions in Blackjack – What to do
Now, our post about Blackjack rules shall tell you about positive positions. What are they? A positive position is referred to when there is +8 or higher. This figure is determined when they divide the count by the amount of remaining decks. This is an extremely rare situation in which you could be placed; however, it can happen, so you had better be prepared for it. Here is what to do:
- The count might get to +12 or bigger, so you had better take insurance.
- In case there is a 10 at the dealer, you should stand on 16 if you cannot surrender at that point.
- If the dealer holds a 5 or a 6, use an 8 to double down. This may result in the dealer going bust and you also get the chance to increase your hand’s total to become 18. According to the Blackjack rules, you can win with any hand, as long as its total is bigger than that of the dealer. Hence, your chances of winning with a total of 18 are quite big.
- Use a 9 to double down against a dealer’s 2 or 7. If you get extra tens, you get the chance to increase your total to become 19, whereas the dealer will quite possibly go bust or get a total of 17.
- Now, if the dealer has a 2, you are advised to stand on 12 and 13. Since the dealer will probably break from a 2, this is the best thing you can do and is practically in compliance with the Blackjack rules.
- If the dealer has an 8, make sure to surrender once you hold a 16. Otherwise, you risk it all. Note that you have very small chances of obtaining a winning hand after that, as you are not likely to get a super cool card, neither will the dealer be likely to break.
Before we finish this post about Blackjack rules, we shall focus on the betting patterns you can use in the game. No matter if you are placing a big bet or a small bet, chances of winning or losing are the same. However, that does not mean you should not change your bet size during the game. It will help you minimize losses or increase your wins. Generally, it helps to manage your bankroll properly. But you need to be wise. Many players think that after losing a hand, they should increase their best, and vice versa. However, the best way to go is to gradually decrease the size of your bet when you are on the losing side and gradually increase it when you are on the winning side. This is not written in the Blackjack rules, but it is a good rule of thumb. Remember that the main idea is to keep your losses to a minimum. If you want to limit your losses, the best way to go is to always bet the minimum amount. But of course, this will not help you generate big profits, if this is your final goal.
Advice from the Dealer – Should You Take It?
And the last section of our Blackjack rules article is about dealers’ advice. If you decide to play at a land-based casino, you can ask the supervisors, dealers and pit bosses for advice in case you are not sure what to do. They are allowed to give you a tip. So, if you have no idea how to proceed and need some help, you are free to ask your dealer. However, be aware that these tips may not be good for you, even if they are honest. It is always best to listen to your inner voice. So, our advice is to be cautious. Do not take a dealer’s recommendations lightly. Always put them to the test.
And this is the end of our article about Blackjack rules. Make sure to re-read the text and learn the rules, then go ahead and try a demo version to see how you are doing.
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