Like we said before, blackjack is the most popular casino table games because
of the simplicity of the rules and the ease with which you can learn how to play
blackjack. Here we will teach you how to play blackjack and the basic rules of
this famous table game.|
The objective of blackjack is very simple - you
have to beat the dealer and just the dealer. While the game could be played by
many people at the same time, all of them are just trying to beat the dealer,
not each other. How do you beat the dealer? Simple - by having higher
total than the dealer without going over 21 or by having a blackjack (unless the
dealer has a blackjack, also, which would result in a draw). Yes, it's that
simple. But before we get there, let's look at how the game of blackjack
progresses. It's the same whether you are playing at an online casino or a
land-based casino, by the way.
The blackjack set up
Blackjack is played on a table (hence the term "table game"), on one
side of the table is the dealer and on the other are the players. The
casino-specific rules (or game-specific rules, if you play a different variation
of blackjack) would be noted right on the table itself, for example, you may see
"Blackjack pays 3 to 2" or "Dealer must draw on soft 17". This is about all you
need to know about the specific rules of the table, everything else will follow
the basic blackjack rules.
After all players have placed their bets, the game begins with the
dealer drawing one card face up to all players at the table, then one to
him/herself face down. Next, the dealer draws one card face up for all players
and dealer. At this point the players count their cards' total (see the value of
the blackjack cards below) and decide whether they believe they have enough to
beat the dealer or not. They are presented with four choices:
1. Hit - request another card
2. Stand - player believes they have high enough card total to beat the
3. Double Down - depending on the casino and table rules, but the main rule
is that you can double down only during the first round and only if the total of
your first 2 cards is 9, 10 or 11.
4. Split - if you have been dealt 2 of the same cards, for example two
queens, you have the option to split them into two hands and the dealer will
then add one additional card to each of the two queens and you will start anew
playing two hands instead of one.
Once a player decided to "stand", gets a blackjack, reaches 21 or goes
over 21 (also known as "bust") - his or her turn ends and the next player's turn
begins. This goes on until all players are done, then the dealer turns his
face-down card and if he has less than 17 - he draws cards until he either
reaches a total over 17 but less than or equal to 21, in which case the players
who have higher total than him win their bets and those who don't - lose; or if
the dealer gets over 21 points - all remaining players at the table win their
bets, regardless of their total. At this point, let's look at:
The value of the blackjack cards
In blackjack, all cards are normally worth their face value, i.e. Seven
of Diamonds = 7 points. The face cards are all worth 10 points and the Ace could
count as either 1 or 11, always in benefit of the player/dealer. Suits don't
play any role in blackjack (unless you place side bets, but we will look into
this in depth in another guide). Clearly, the Ace is the only card that will
need further explanation. As we mentioned, it could count as either 1 or 11. For
example, if your first two cards were valued at 16, let's say Queen+6, and you
draw an Ace, if the value was counted as 11 - you would bust, since 16+11=27 and
27 is over the 21 points. But because it always counts as either 1 or 11 in
benefit of the card holder, in that case your total would be counted as 17
(16+1) rather than 27.
The Ace is an important card in two other scenarios: blackjack and soft
17. In order to get a "blackjack", your first two cards must be a 10 and an Ace.
The 10 could be simply a 10 of clubs or a Queen or a King or a Jack. And if it's
paired with an Ace - you get blackjack and if the dealer doesn't have a
blackjack, too - you would be paid 3-to-2 in most cases, unless otherwise noted
on the table.
The other case, where the Ace plays a big role is in the "soft 17".
Most blackjack dealers must draw when they reach a soft 17 (see the blackjack
dealer rules below). A "soft" total is a total in which the Ace is counted as 1
instead of 11, for example, if the dealer draws a 6 and a 10, then draws an Ace
- that's soft 17, since the Ace was counted as just 1 point instead of 11 and
the dealer must draw another card.
The blackjack dealer rules
Unlike the players, who could "hit" until they decide to stop or go
over 21 and "bust", the blackjack dealer is not given such liberties. They must
follow this rule when drawing cards - the dealer must hit until they reach 17 or
over, except when they get soft 17, in which case they must draw again. So,
unlike you, who can deicide to stop drawing card when you reach 14 points, the
dealer must continue drawing cards until they reach 17 or until they bust.
Because of this rule, most players would "stand" when they have less than 17
points only when the dealer has a high chance of busting, for example, if the
face-up card of the dealer is 6 or 5.
As you can see, playing blackjack is very easy. You compete against the
dealer for a higher total of cards without going over 21 "points". If you are
dealt 10 and an Ace as your first two cards - you have a blackjack. If you or
the dealer go over 21 points - you bust.