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Blackjack Rules and Strategies

The object of blackjack is to get a total value of cards as close to 21 as possible without going over and beat the dealer's total. Numbered cards are worth their face value. Face cards -- Kings, Queens and Jacks -- are each worth 10. Aces are worth either 1 or 11, whichever is better in the circumstances.

If the total value of your cards exceeds 21, you "bust", which means you lose. If your total is less than or equal to 21 and the dealer's total is over 21, then the dealer busts and you win. If neither your total or the dealer's total exceeds 21, then the higher total wins. In the event of a tie, no one wins and no one loses. A tie is called a "push".

You start the game by placing your bet. Next the dealer deals two cards to you and one to himself. Usually these cards are dealt face-up. Then the dealer gives himself a second card face-down. This is called the hole card. Now you have to make a decision: do you take another card ("hit") or pass to the dealer ("stand" or "stay"). If you hit, the dealer gives you another card and again asks if you want to hit or stand. You keep hitting until you are satisfied with your total or you bust. The dealer must keep taking cards until he has 17 or more.

Here are a few other basic rules you'll need to know.


If the first two cards dealt to you or the dealer are an Ace and a ten-count card (10, Jack, Queen or King), that is "blackjack". If you have blackjack, you win automatically, unless the dealer also has blackjack, in which case it is a push (tie). Blackjack pays higher than an ordinary win, which pays even money. Blackjack pays 3 to 2, meaning you win 3 dollars for every 2 you bet. Blackjack is sometimes called "a natural".

Doubling down

After you receive your first two cards, you may have the option to "double down". This means you can double your original bet. Most casino only allow you to double down when the value of the first 2 cards is 9, 10 or 11. If you double down, the dealer will give you only one more card and then draw the cards needed to complete his own hand.

Splitting pairs

When your first two cards have the same value (for example, a pair of sevens), you have the option to "split". To split, you have to place another bet equal to your original bet. Then the two cards are split and you play them as separate hands. Some casinos allow you to "resplit" if you get another same-value card.

Special rules apply when you choose to split Aces. When you split Aces, you only receive one more card on each hand and if you get 21, it is not considered blackjack.


When the dealer's face-up card is an Ace, some casinos will ask if you want "insurance". The cost of insurance is half your original bet. Your insurance bet pays 2 to 1 if the dealer gets blackjack, which will equal the amount you lose on the original bet. For example, say your original bet was $10. The dealer has an Ace showing and you decide to place an insurance bet for $5. If the dealer gets blackjack, you lose your original $10 bet but win $10 on the insurance bet so you are even. If the dealer does not have blackjack you lose your $5 insurance bet and play the hand by normal rules.

Number of decks

Casinos deal blackjack from a single deck or from multiple decks. It's traditional for the dealer to "burn" or discard the top card after shuffling.

Rules variations

Blackjack rules may vary from casino to casino. Here are a few rules variations you may encounter:

  • Dealer stands on soft 17.
  • Player may double down on any first two cards.
  • Player may double down on any number of cards.
  • Player may double down on split pairs.
  • Player may "surrender" his hand after the first two cards and lose half his bet.

Blackjack Articles

Blackjack: Single Deck vs. Multiple Deck
Question is what's the difference? And what's ultimately better for players, one-deck Blackjack or multi-deck? We investigate.
5 Really Bad Blackjack Blunders
What are the worst mistakes a Blackjack player can make? To ensure you don’t make any bad Blackjack blunders we give you the top five.
Blackjack Strategy and Rules: How to Pick the Right Table
Choosing a Blackjack table should be like choosing stock; because in the end you’re making an investment.
Blackjack Terms and Lingo
Well, fear not Blackjack experts, we’ve got some terminology for you to learn so you can finally find out if the other players at your table are talking trash about you.
Blackjack Strategy: Las Vegas vs. Atlantic City Rules
Each city comes with its own set of casino rules that can help or hurt players; especially when it comes to the universally popular game of blackjack.
Become a Professional Blackjack Player
To be a pro at blackjack you need to go beyond the basic strategy to advantage plays like counting or ace tracking. But it sure doesn't hurt to master the basics...
Playing Blackjack: Bring More Luck to the Table and Win
Blackjack isn’t simply a game of “close your eyes and pray”; there are elements of the game that make it one of the most strategic of all casino activities.
Blackjack - Opting For Insurance
Lots of people play blackjack but have no idea how insurance works. Periodically the dealer will ask you if you want make an insurance bet, and most people just say “no” without knowing what the bet offers. The concept is simple enough to understand once you see the numbers.
Blackjack History
The original game that blackjack evolved from was known as vingt-et-un and was played in France in the 1700’s. The game was not popular when it first came to the U.S. after the French Revolution, so local casinos started offering bonus payouts for certain hands in an attempt to draw more players to the game.
Online Blackjack Tournament Strategy
The game of blackjack offers players the best chance of beating the casino. The house starts with an advantage of roughly 0.5% vs. someone using basic strategy. However, while the online casinos take that one-half percent, they usually supply you with generous bonuses to play, giving you the mathematical advantage.
When To Double Down

So many times I'll see people with good double-down (DD) situations, and they simply hit instead of getting their money out there when they have the best of it. 
Super Blackjack Tips

Blackjack -- for many it's not just a game, it's a way of life. Blackjack was the casino game that really got the information products' ball rolling. It started many years ago, and no other game has spawned so many books, videos, classes and seminars. 
All About Blackjack

Just where did Blackjack come from? I'm sure that no one in the 18th century knew that this game, which was a modified version of "Ving-et-un" would become so popular.
Blackjack 'Bases'

I liked playing blackjack at "third base" long before I knew what it meant. The official definition: last player's seat to the dealer's right.

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