Blackjack: How to play

If you want to know how to play blackjack, you'll first need to learn the purpose of the game and understand basic blackjack rules. Blackjack rules may seem easy, but the strategy on how to play blackjack right, to win and make a profit, is much harder. On these blackjack info pages we offer you the essential information you need to make a profit playing blackjack, whether playing online or in an actual casino. 

Blackjack rules

We start by explaining the blackjack rules to you on this page. After that you can check out your favorite blackjack strategy and play blackjack for free, so you can test your strategy right away. Oh, and don't forget to check out our honest and useful blackjack tips! Good luck playing blackjack!

What is blackjack?

Blackjack is a card game. We're not entirely sure where it comes form, but has been played all over the world for a couple of centuries now. Blackjack has always been a popular casino game, and with the rise of online casinos, the popularity has increased even more. 

The essentials of how to play blackjack are simple; you have to get as close to 21, or even better: at 21. If you go over 21, you lose, and if the dealer ends up higher than you, you lose too.

blackjack rules

Blackjack rules and game process

  • First off, every player gets one card, with the value on top for everyone to see
  • The dealer too gets one card, with his card turned down, not visible for the players. This is the ‘hole’ card
  • All players get a second card, again with the value on top, so everyone can see. The dealer gets a second card, this one is visible to everyone
  • Starting from the player left from the dealer, players must decide if they want another card, to get as close to 21 as possible, in order to beat the dealer
  • Players who choose to continue get a third card, with the value on top for everyone to see
  • Now it's the dealer's turn. The dealer is obliged to take another card if his card value is 16 or below, and the dealer will pass if the value is 17 or more
  • You win if your total score is 21 or below, but still higher than the dealer. You also win if the dealer busts, which means his total is higher than 21.
  • If your total value is equal to that of the dealer, it's a tie, which is called a push. Your bet will remain and you neither win nor lose.

Blackjack card values

The ace is worth 1 or 11. It’s up to you to decide! Image cards (kings etc) represent a value of 10. All numbered cards count as numbers. Wild cards are not used in the blackjack game.

Blackjack rules

Blackjack!

When you receive an ace and a value 10 card (an image card or a 10) as your first two cards, you’ve got BlackJack! You’ll be paid 2.5 times your original bet. Unless the dealer also has BlackJack, then it’s a stand-off (push) and you’ll keep your bet, but win nothing.

Splitting

If you get two equal cards as your first two cards, you can split these into a maximum of three different hands. Aces can only be split into a maximum of two hands. For each card, you will get a second initial card, but of course you’ll have to place the bet from your first hand again. You can also split two cards with a value of 10, a king and a ten, for example. However, this is rarely done, because you’re already on a total value of 20 and odds are this is enough to beat the dealer. If you split two aces, you only get one extra card for each ace. 

Doubling down

You will get the option to place an extra bet (your original bet as a maximum), if the total of your cards is 9,10, or 11, without an ace. You get one last card, and of course you hope this card is an ace or image/10. Blackjack is not possible anymore, so the payout is x2 instead of x2.5. 

Insurance

If the visible card of the dealer is an ace, you will get the option to insure your bet, in case the dealer gets blackjack. The insurance will cost you 0.5 times your bet. The insurance wins if the dealer gets blackjack and the payout is 2:1, making sure you’ll play even, because you lose your original bet. If the dealer doesn’t get blackjack, the insurance will be lost and the game continues as usual.

In some (American) casinos, there’s a hole card rule. This means that if the dealer has an Ace, a 10, or an image as a hole card, he will get another closed card and check it for blackjack. If he has blackjack, the game ends and the players who don’t have blackjack, lose their original bet. This is an advantage for players, because possible extra bets because of doubling or splitting cannot be lost.

Surrender

Blackjack surrender is a variation to the Blackjack rules that is mostly played in Belgium or America. It offers a possibility to fold and only lose half of your original bet. There are two forms of surrender; the early surrender and the late surrender. Early surrender is possible before the player gets his third card, or sometimes at the beginning of the player's turn. In late surrender the dealer first checks if he has blackjack. If so, players are not able to surrender. It makes sense that early surrender is better for the player. However, early surrender is often played with an extra rule, which states that players can’t surrender to an ace. The argument for this is that you can already get insurance when an ace is played. Surrender generally comes in handy at values 15 or 16 without an ace, or even more specifically if the dealer has an ace or a 10.

Next step: strategy

So, now you know the basics of Blackjack rules, it's time to learn how to win Blackjack. Check out our page on Blackjack strategy and tactics!

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