How to Play Blackjack

Blackjack is a casino table game that is played with one, two, four, six, or eight decks of cards.  In single and double deck games the dealer holds the cards when dealing.  The cards are dealt face down and the player is allowed to pick up their cards.  In multi-deck games the cards are dealt out face-up using a shoe and the player is not allowed to touch the cards.  In some casinos you might also find the continuous shuffling machines that are now becoming more and more popular.

Card Values

All face cards are valued at 10, while cards 2-10 are scored according to their face value.  Aces can be worth either 1 or 11.  If a hand has an Ace it is referred to as a “soft hand” because the value can change.  Hands without Aces are called “hard hands.”  The suits of the cards have no affect on scoring.

What Wins

The highest hand in the game is a blackjack, which is an ace and a 10.  This pays the player 3 to 2 unless the dealer also has a blackjack and then the bet is pushed.  Every other winning hand pays even money and is achieved by the player having a higher total than the dealer without breaking (going over) 21.  If either the player or dealer goes over 21 they bust and lose.  If the player busts he automatically loses even if the dealer also goes over 21.  If the player and dealer have the same total the bet pushes.

Betting & Dealing

The game begins when a player makes his bet.  This is done by placing chips in the circle or logo in front of him on the table.  Only chips that are placed in the betting circle count as your bet.  The dealer will then go around the table and give each player two cards face up while dealing himself one up and one down (known as the hole card).  After the initial round of cards are dealt, the player to the dealer’s left will make the first decision on how to play his hand.  His position is called “first base.”  The action then progress around the table until all players have acted.  The last position to play is known as “third base.”


All decisions are made with hand signals.  If the player wishes to stand, he waves his hand.  A player who stands is satisfied with his cards and does not wish to take any more.  If the player wishes to hit he will tap the table.  The dealer will then draw him another card.  If the player wishes to double down, he places another wager of equal value behind his original.  When you double down you will receive only one additional card.  If the player wishes to split, he places another wager of equal value next to his original bet.  You can only split with two cards of the same value.  You will then be playing two hands with one from each starting the new combination.  You can stand, hit, double down, or split these new hands.


If the dealer has an ace in front of him he will ask the players if they would like to buy insurance.  This is a side bet where you wager half of your original bet that the dealer has 10 in the hole and thus, a blackjack.  If you make this bet and the dealer has a blackjack, you basically push your original wager.  Another form of insurance is when you have black and the dealer has an ace showing.  You can take even money instead of 3 to 2.

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