How to Play Blackjack – Game Rules and How to Win

Are you ready to hit the tables and test your luck and skill in the thrilling world of blackjack? Look no further! In this guide, we’ll show you how to play blackjack like a pro and increase your chances of winning big. Whether you’re a complete beginner or a seasoned player looking to refine your strategy, we’ve got you covered with all the valuable insights. So, shuffle up and let’s get into the art of playing and winning at blackjack!


Anne Ifeanyi

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Table of Contents

Basic Rules of Blackjack Gameplay

One of the reasons the blackjack card game is so popular is because it’s simple to play and has straightforward rules for beginners. The goal of this game is to beat the dealer’s hand without exceeding a total card value of 21.

Here are some other blackjack basic rules for beginners:

  • Blackjack is usually played with one or more standard decks of 52 cards. The number of decks varies depending on the blackjack casino or game variation.
  • You’re playing against the house (the dealer), and other players’ hands do not affect your gameplay.
  • 21 is a perfect blackjack and wins automatically. A perfect blackjack hand is an Ace (valued at 11) plus a 10-value card.
  • A hand total over 21 is called a ‘Bust’ or a ‘Break’ and loses automatically.

Blackjack Card Values and Ranks

  • Number cards from 2 – 9 are taken at face value
  • Tens and picture cards (Jack, Queen, and King) are all worth 10
  • Depending on the most advantageous for the given hand, Ace is valued at 1 or 11

Note: a hand with an Ace is called a soft hand, while a hand without an Ace is called a hard hand.

How to Play Your Hand in Blackjack

Every blackjack round starts after bets are placed. In a traditional blackjack casino, the dealer gives each player, including themselves, two cards. Both player cards are typically dealt face up, while one dealer card is face up, and the other face down (known as the “hole” card).

Player’s Turn

When cards are dealt, it’s time to “play your hand.” Players can make a set of decisions based on the value of their hands. The options are as follows:

  • Stand – This means you don’t make any move. You can stand when the first two cards dealt to you are acceptable, and you don’t want to risk taking any other cards that may make you go over 21. When you receive a perfect blackjack, this is the best and only move you should make.
  • Hit – This means to take one more card. You can hit when you want to improve your hand closer to the desired total of 21, hoping that you don’t go over, of course. You should hit when there’s a good chance that an additional card will take you closer to 21.
  • Double Down – With this blackjack move, you double the amount of your original bet and take one additional card. This option is best when you believe you have a strong hand and want to maximise your potential winnings.
  • Split – When your first two cards have the same value (e.g., two 8s or two 10s), you can choose to split them into two separate hands. You then place an additional bet, equal to the original bet, on the second hand. Each hand is then played independently, and you can make decisions (hit, stand, etc.) for each hand.
  • Insurance – If the dealer’s face-up card is an Ace, you have the option to take insurance. Insurance is a side bet that you can place at the price of half of your original bet. This bet aims to protect against the possibility of the dealer having a perfect blackjack. If the dealer does indeed have a blackjack, the insurance bet pays 2:1, offsetting your losses on the original bet. Beware that side bets massively favour the house, so they are often not a good proposition for players.

Dealer’s Turn

At any and every blackjack casino, the dealer must follow a set of rules known as “house rules.” Typically, the dealer will hit until their hand value is 17 or higher, after which they take no more cards. At some tables, though, the designated rule is “dealer must hit on soft 17.” The dealer’s last move is to reveal their hole card after all players have finished their turns.

How Results Are Determined

Upon revealing the hole card, these are the possible outcomes:

  • The hand with the higher value closest to 21 wins.
  • If both have the same value, it results in a “push” or tie, and the player’s bet is returned.
  • If the player’s hand value exceeds 21, the player automatically loses their bet.
  • If the dealer busts, players who have not busted are winners.

These are the fundamentals of blackjack. However, it’s important to note that different game versions and specific casino rules may introduce additional options or variations in gameplay. Also free online blackjack won’t require any real money bets. You simply play for fun.

The Surrender Option in Blackjack

Surrender is another playing option available in this game. The surrender option allows players to give up their hand and forfeit half of their original bet, effectively surrendering the round. The benefit is that you keep the other half of your bet and minimise your losses.

First, you need to evaluate your initial hand and compare it to the dealer’s up card. If you feel that your chances of winning the hand are low, especially when facing a dealer’s strong upcard (e.g., Ace or 10), surrendering might be a viable option.

After you declare surrender, you receive half of your original bet back while the house takes the other half. After surrendering, the game ends for you, but you can join in on the next round. It’s a good idea to check if this option is provided in the specific blackjack game you wish to play, because not all blackjack casinos will make it available.

How to Win at Blackjack for Beginners – Basic Strategy

Blackjack has one of the lowest house edges at the online casino. As such, it offers great winning potential. You’ll have to play your cards right, though, and for any beginner, this starts with applying basic strategy. Blackjack basic strategy is a mathematically derived set of rules that guide players in making optimal decisions in every possible blackjack scenario. Basic strategy advises on the best time to hit, stand, double down, etc.

These are some of the basic strategy rules:

  • Always stand on hard hands (without an Ace) totalling 17 or higher.
  • Hit on hard hands totalling 8 or less.
  • Double down on hard hands totalling 9, 10, or 11 if the dealer’s up card is 2 to 9.
  • Double down on soft hands (with an Ace) totalling 13 to 18 if the dealer’s upcard is 5 or 6.
  • Never split 5s or 10s.
  • Always split Aces and 8s.
  • Stand on pairs of 9s if the dealer’s up card is 7, 10, or Ace.

A blackjack basic strategy chart will reveal the full list of rules for every scenario. And you don’t have to cram it all up in your head. Just keep a strategy chart nearby whenever you play blackjack online. Our dedicated blackjack strategy guide will expand on basic strategy as well as other advanced blackjack betting strategies favoured by the pros, including the infamous card counting.

How to Play Blackjack FAQ

What are the basic rules of playing blackjack?

The aim of blackjack is to get your hand of cards as close to 21 as you can without going over. Face cards count as 10, aces can be 1 or 11, and all other cards are just their face value. When you’re dealt your starting two cards, you can make any of the blackjack decisions – hits, stand, double down, split, surrender or take insurance.

What’s the secret to winning in blackjack?

The best strategy for winning in blackjack is understanding the game’s basic strategy. Basic strategy does not guarantee wins in every hand, but it is a long-term strategy for maximising profitability in blackjack.

What does ‘double down’ mean in blackjack?

Doubling down is when you’re feeling good about your initial two cards and want to up the stakes. You double your initial bet and get one additional card. After that, you must stand on your current hand.

What is the role of the dealer in blackjack?

The dealer is your main counterpart in this game. The dealer manages the game, dealing cards to players and themselves and making decisions for their hand based on a set of rules (typically, standing on all 17s). They also collect and pay out bets. When playing online blackjack, all actions are automated by the software.