Blackjack, or “21,” is a casino game that is played against the dealer aka the house (unless you’re playing a special variation). It’s one of the few games where the advantage over the players is at a minimum, especially if the player educates him or herself in basic blackjack strategy.

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If you haven’t learned how to play blackjack yet, you should. It’s a fun game to play and not difficult to learn. I’ve gone through the basic rules below. Once you’ve learned how to play blackjack, you can then learn blackjack strategy or other game variations of 21.

Blackjack Betting Rules

The objective of blackjack is simple — you want to create a hand that has a higher value than the dealer’s hand. The only catch to this is that neither your hand nor the dealer’s can exceed 21 points.

With that said, let’s go through a hand of blackjack.

The Deal

Starting with the player to his or her left, the dealer with deal each player 2 cards face up, one at a time. The dealer deals themselves 2 cards, the first one dealt faced down and the second dealt faced up.

Once all the cards are dealt, the action will begin. If the dealer happens to have an ace or 10-point card up, they’ll generally check for a blackjack — this may depend on where you’re playing though. If they have a blackjack, everyone that doesn’t will automatically lose their bets. If the dealer doesn’t have a blackjack, then the action will start.

The Action

The action will begin with the player to the immediate left of the dealer. This player, and every player left to act, will have the following options:

  • Hit: A “hit” is another way of requesting another card. A player can request as many cards as they want until they choose to stand or they bust (exceed 21). Aces are worth 1 or 11 points, paint cards are worth 10-points and all other cards are worth their face value.
  • Stand: To stand is another way of saying to stand pat. The player is satisfied with the value of their hand.
  • Double Down: A double down is when a player asks for one more card in exchange for another bet equaling their initial bet. For example, if you were to wager $5 and wanted to double down, you’d have to wager another $5 ($10 total) for one more card. Depending on the game and/or where you’re playing, you may or may not be able to double down on a split hand.
  • Split: Splitting can only be done when you’re dealt two cards of the same value — for example 8d-8h. When you split your hand, you’re turning one playable hand into two. Because you’re playing two hands, you’ll need to place another wager identical to the first one. In a majority of cases, you’ll be able to re-split hands. The exception to this would be aces. This will depend on the casino you’re playing at.
  • Surrender: A surrender is when a player decides not to play his or her hand. Since they gave up, they will lose half their bet. There are two different surrenders; an early surrender is a player giving up their hand before the dealer checks for a dealer blackjack and a late surrender is a player giving up their hand afterward.

Once all the players have busted or decided to stand, the dealer will then play his or her hand. House rules will depend once again on where you play, but generally, a dealer will need to hit his or her hand until they get to 17 points or higher. Sometimes the rules will say that the dealer needs to hit soft 17. This will vary.

Once the dealer has played their hand, players who have a better hand than the dealer’s are awarded chips equal to their wager. If you wagered $10, you will receive your wager back plus $10 more. Players who have a worst hand than the dealers will lose their wager. Hands that tie with dealers are known as a “push” and the player will receive their wager back. If you are dealt a natural blackjack, it will pay 3:2 (although this may vary from casino to casino). After all the bets have been awarded or collected, then new bets are placed and a new hand is dealt.

Play Blackjack Online For Real Money

Blackjack is pretty simple, huh? Keep in mind though that the difficulty doesn’t come from learning how to play 21, but learning how to play it optimally to further reduce the house’s edge. You can do this by following one of several basic strategies and/or learning one of many card counting strategies. These can be found in books or even forums online.

If you’re ready to try your hand at playing blackjack online, just choose from one of our recommended casino sites above to get started.