It’s common knowledge that the house edge in blackjack is generally lower than the house edge for any other casino game. This means that there’s room for player strategy. Despite this, many players don’t properly understand the game, which means they lose their edge back to the house.
That’s why we’re telling you everything you need to know about blackjack, and how to play to your best advantage.
What are the rules of Blackjack?
While there are a few modern variations, the most common game of blackjack is dealt out of a ‘shoe’. This is a card-dispensing device containing either 6 or 8 decks.
There are only five things that could happen with every hand of blackjack you’re dealt. Let’s work off a simple example. Say you walk up to a table with a single $100 chip and you bet it all on one hand.
There are five ways it could play out:
- You lose $100
- You win $100
- You win $150 (If you get a natural/blackjack i.e. your first two cards are an Ace and a 10 card)
- You push, meaning you win nothing and lose nothing
- You double down or split, winning $200 or more (see next)
Looking to go deeper than just the basic rules? We’ve got you covered with all the details here.
How to play blackjack
The ultimate objective of blackjack is to beat the dealer. You do this by drawing a hand value that’s higher than the dealer’s hand value. The player will also win if the dealer draws a hand value that goes over 21.
In turn, the player loses if their hand value exceeds 21 or if the dealer’s hand has a greater value at the end of the round. If the player or dealer draws a hand value of 21 on the first two cards, this is an instant win. No chips are won or lost when the player and dealer end the game with hands of equal value.
If it sounds too simple it’s because it is. However, there’s more that goes into the game beyond understanding the rules. Here’s the full game scope.
How does Blackjack card counting work?
The concept of counting cards is a simple one. Players keep track of all cards dealt to bend the odds in their favour based on probability. Interested in learning how to count cards? We’ve put together a detailed guide.
What are Blackjack card values?
Blackjack is played with a regular deck of 52 playing cards. The suits don’t matter, only the values do.
Cards 2 through 10 count at face value, i.e. a 2 counts as two, a 9 counts as nine. The face cards (Jack, King and Queen) all count as 10. An Ace can count as a 1 or an 11 depending on which value helps the hand the most.
Understanding card values (yours, the dealers and other players at the table) can help you to make better plays in the long term. Read our simple guide on card and hand values in blackjack and what they mean.
What is a Blackjack strategy chart?
Strategy charts will help you make the best decision on every hand you could possibly be dealt in blackjack. The aim is to ensure that you make the correct play each time, giving you the highest possible chance of success. Our strategy chart is simple and straightforward, teaching you exactly when to hit or stand, double down, split or surrender.
How does Blackjack insurance work?
If the dealer’s up card is an ace, it means they now have a fairly high probability of turning over a 10 card next, giving them blackjack. To counter this, the player can take out blackjack insurance. This means that you get paid out even if the dealer is victorious.
It’s treated separately from the main wager and pays out at 2:1. It’s a risky play, and not always a wise move. Learn when you should and shouldn’t take out insurance in blackjack.
How do you split or double down in Blackjack?
If you want to make the game of blackjack more exciting you can up the ante by choosing to split or double down.
You can opt to split if you’re dealt a pair (2 cards of equal value). At this point you can put out a second wager and the dealer will split the two cards so that each card will become the first card on two new hands.
The concept of doubling down applies when the house permits you to double the size of your wager after you’ve been dealt your initial cards. In return for allowing this, the house demands that you are dealt only one more card for the entire hand.
Want practical examples on how and when to engage these plays? Read our in-depth guide to splitting or doubling down.