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How to Play Blackjack

How to play BlackjackBlackjack is the iconic casino table game. It is also a very simple and strategic game that any online casino player can enjoy. If you can count to twenty one, you've essentially mastered the basics of Blackjack.

In this article I will tell you about how Blackjack works and talk about the different kind of options you have.


The Object of the Game

In order to win a hand of Blackjack, you need to have cards valued closer to 21 than the dealer, without going over 21. Beating the dealer will double your bet (1 to 1 payout).

The Value of the Cards

Each numbered card is worth the value of the number shown on the card. Face cards (Jack, Queen, King) are worth 10. Ace cards are worth 1 or 11. The suits of cards do not matter in Blackjack.

Starting a Hand

To start a hand of Blackjack, you must make a bet. Once all player bets are placed, the dealer will deal each player (including the dealer) one card face down. The dealer will then deal each player (including the dealer) one more card face up on top of their face down card. The face down card is for your view only. After looking at the card, ensure it remains face down for the remainder of the hand.

Player Options

Once all players receive their first two cards, the players begin exercising their options. The first player to act is the player sitting left of the dealer.

- Hit
A hit is the player asking for another card to be dealt to them. If a player's hand is not close to 21, the player will hit and try to get closer. Players typically hit when their cards total less than 17.

- Stand
A stand is the player telling the dealer not to deal them another card. They believe they are closer to 21 than the dealer. Players typically stand when their cards total more than 16.

- Double Down
A double is the player asking to double their bet in exchange for only one more card. Players typically double their bet when their first two cards total 11.

- Split
A split is an option a player can exercise when their first two cards of any hand are the same number. The split will effectively create two hands (and two bets) from which the player can play from. Players typically split when their card plus ten would equal more than the dealer's shown card plus ten. After the cards are split, the player will resume the normal player options for each hand. It is possible to split multiple times in a single round of Blackjack.

- Insurance
Insurance is an option a player can exercise if the dealer's face up card is an ace. If the player takes insurance, they are betting half their original bet that the dealer has a blackjack. If the player is right, the insurance bet will be paid 2 to 1. The reason it is called insurance is because if the player is right about the dealers hand, and does not have 21 in their own hand, they won't lose any money from the hand. However, if a player has a 21 from their two cards and the dealer has 21, the player will not earn any money on the original bet but will earn 2 to 1 on their insurance bet.

- Surrender
A surrender is the player asking for half of his original bet to be returned in exchange for his hand.

Dealer Options

Once all players have finished their options, it is now time for the dealer to exercise their option. The dealer has only two options at a Blackjack table. Dealers must hit on anything less than 17 and stand on anything greater than 16. If the dealer goes over 21 (busts) when they hit, all players will automatically win their bet unless they are also over 21.

"Soft" 17

There are several variations of the dealer options in most online casinos. However, the most common one is in regards to what a dealer must do on a "soft" 17. A "soft" 17 is when the dealer has an ace in their hand and their total hand value can be 7 or 17. Conversely, a "hard" 17 is when the dealer may or may not have an ace in their hand and their total hand value can only be 17. Most online casinos will have the dealer stand on a soft 17, however some will hit. If the game requires the dealer to hit on a soft 17, this is an advantage in the players' favour.

Revealing Player and Dealer Hands

After the dealer has exercised their options, they will reveal their hand to the players. The dealer will then reveal each players hand to determine a winner. If the player has a hand closer to (but not over) 21 than the dealer, the dealer will pay them 1 to 1. If the player has 21 on two cards only, they have made a Blackjack and the dealer will pay them 3 to 2 so long as the dealer does not have 21. If both the player and the dealer have the same hand value, the hand is pushed and the player is refunded the bet. If the dealer wins the hand, the bet is forfeited and a new hand of Blackjack is dealt.

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