Guide To Understanding Blackjack Rules

The game of blackjack, also known as twenty-one (21), is a game that is incredibly popular at legal US online casinos as well as brick and mortar casinos all across the globe. In fact, it is the most widely played casino game in history, while also being one of the simplest games. The object of blackjack typically be picked up by people in a matter of minutes. So even if you have never played the game, a simple explanation will have you ready to play. However, we suggest caution here; knowing the rules and knowing how to actually win at blackjack are two separate things. Our guide includes a page dedicated to providing information on how to win at blackjack, as well as a page offering blackjack tips and tricks.

The Objective of Blackjack

In blackjack, the layout is rather simple. You're playing—as a live player at the table—against a dealer. And while there may be other players at the table, there's only one dealer, and this is your opponent in blackjack. The game is played with typically more than one 52-card deck that's stored in a shoe. The dealer deals out two cards to each player, and the aim is to beat the dealer by obtaining a hand that is the closest to 21 points in numerical value without going over.

It's simple enough, right? Anyone who can add up card values (J, Q, K being 10, and an A being 1 or 11) can figure out how close they are to 21, and can surely figure out when they're about to go over 21. But, there's a lot more to the game than simply adding cards. Knowing when to hit, when to stand, when to double down, when to split, etc, are all important aspects of the game of blackjack.

The Official Rules of Blackjack

Now that you understand the objective of blackjack and know that your aim is to be the closest to 21 without going over, ahead of the dealer's value, it's time to discuss the actual rules of the game.

First and foremost, the table you're playing at is going to require an initial bet, or an ante. This is where you essentially must pay to play. The hand cannot begin until stakes are wagered by the players, because not doing so would make the hand meaningless. To the winner go the spoils in every hand of blackjack. After the initial bets are taken, the dealer deals out two cards to you, the player, and you get to initially add them up.

Once the cards are dealt, you're going to have an option for your first action: Hit or stand. This is simple enough to understand, and you want to start by adding up your cards. If you feel you're too far away from 21, then you're going to "hit," in which case the dealer gives you another card. You can hit 'til your heart's content. Some casinos allow for a five-card 21, which means if you get five cards in total yet haven't gone over 21, you win. Others do not have this rule, so understand that individual rule if you're going for a five-card hand.

Conversely, if you're satisfied with your value as it pertains to 21, you're going to stand, which is a signal to the dealer not to deal you any more cards. In which case, if you're the last to act, the hand ends and the dealer flips over his second card (as one will always be facing up for your to see) to reveal his or her total. Understand, however, that the dealer can also hit to get closer to 21. However, the dealer must stay at 17. Then it all comes down to who's closer to 21.

This is the gist of the game, of course; there are other aspects of the rules to be discussed, such as doubling down, splitting hands, and taking out insurance.

The Double Down

Once the cards are dealt out in blackjack, you're going to have an opportunity to increase your bet, if you so choose. For instance, let's say that you've been dealt a 9 and a 10, for a total of 19, and you see that the dealer is showing a 4. At best, the dealer has 15, with an Ace, and most likely something closer to 14, with a 10 or a face card. A hit from the dealer, which will be mandatory, puts the odds in your favor for a dealer bust and a player win. In circumstances such as these, you can actually double-down, which means to double your bet after the cards are dealt for a higher probability of a bigger win. This is a risky move, of course, and should only be done in certain instances where you know the dealer will have to chase the player to win. You never want to double down if you have to chase with a hit.

The Split

Splitting in blackjack is a rarity but something you will undoubtedly encounter occasionally. This is when you are dealt two like cards. You can actually split them and play separate hands. So, for instance, let's say you get dealt two 10s. What do you do? On one hand, you have a numeric value of 20 and thus are in great shape to win. On the other hand, you can split these 10s and take your chances of getting an Ace on one or closer to 21 than the dealer on both. We used 10s here on purpose, to show you how tough this choice can be. Do you split or do you play normally? Most players typically split cards like 7s or 8s and not 10s, of course, because splitting actually gives better odds than hitting on 14 or 16. Whatever you decide to do, remember two things. 1) Pay attention to what the dealer is showing on the up card; 2) Remember that splitting to play two hands requires double the wager.

Blackjack Insurance

The one thing you can count on in blackjack every hand is to see one of the dealer's cards. Once you learn more about the game, you will find this to be a huge advantage, as you're not only playing your two cards but are also playing off of the dealer's up card. In instances where the dealer is showing an Ace as the up card, you have an opportunity to purchase insurance. This is basically a way to save half your money if the dealer's other card is a 10, which is statistically more likely than any other card in the deck. Insurance is going to have to be a personal call per the situation; we cannot give you a yes or no pertaining to whether or not you should take it. It all depends on where you're at the in the game, your chip stack, your particular cards, etc.

As you can see, the objective and rules of blackjack are all quite simple. Your aim is to be the closest to 21 without going over, and there are different moves you can make to improve your odds of winning more money. The key here is practice. We recommend playing for fun until you get the hang of the game, then moving on to real-money venues at one of the legal online blackjack sites we recommend. We have some exclusive bonuses available to our visitors only offering some really enticing bonuses such as 150% up to $10,000. And all of the sites found in our guide are legal online casinos which are licensed and regulated offshore.