How to Play Blackjack


Blackjack is a card game in which players compete against the dealer for a profit. The goal is to get a total card value of 21 or as close to that number as possible without going over, while the dealer’s goal is to keep the player’s hand below 21.

Several skills are needed to play blackjack. One is mental math, which enables a player to calculate how much they’ll win. Another is active listening, which a blackjack dealer uses to communicate with customers.

Learning the Rules

The basic strategy for blackjack is to always hit if you have a hand that is worth at least as much as the dealer’s and stand if your hand is less than that. The only exceptions to this rule are when you have a blackjack, or a hand of 21, and if the dealer’s face up card is an ace.

How to Deal Cards

In most blackjack games, a dealer deals two cards to each player and then takes one of those cards off the table and gives it to the player. The player can then either accept or decline the card and place a wager on their hand.

If a dealer’s first card is an ace, the player can make an “insurance” bet. This bet pays 2 to 1 if the dealer’s second card is a blackjack (a hand that is worth 21 points).

Insurance bets are typically small, so they have little effect on the player’s winnings. However, they can increase a player’s chances of winning by reducing the dealer’s advantage.

How to Split

In some blackjack games, a player may split their hand into two separate hands. This is useful when they’re trying to avoid a bad total or have a strong hand that is unlikely to beat the dealer.

Early Surrender

If the dealer’s first card is an ace or a face card, the player can surrender half their bet before they check for blackjack. This is especially helpful if the player has a hand that is likely to bust, such as a pair of aces or a 10 against a dealer’s 6 or lower.

Resplitting Aces

In some games, a player can re-split their aces to create two new hands with different values. The new hands can then be played independently of each other.

Double Down

In most casinos, a player can re-double their wager by placing a second bet on the same hand after splitting it. This is beneficial when a player has a weak hand or if the dealer’s card is high.

Spanish 21:

The Spanish 21 variation of the game has many of the same rules as regular blackjack, except it removes all ten-value cards from the deck. This is a mistake because ten-value cards and aces are the most valuable cards in a player’s hand.

Counting Cards

In most versions of blackjack, aces and face cards are valued as 10 and the rest are worth their printed values. Occasionally, an ace can also be valued as a 1 or 11. This is called a “natural” hand and is the best hand in the game.