Guide to Blackjack Rules – An Easy Introduction

guide to blackjack rules

The game originated in France around 1700 and initially was called “vingt-et-un” that means 21. However the name changed from location to location, so for example in Australia, it was called “pontoon”, in England “Van John” and so on. Also, its rules changed from time to time. Blackjack made its way to America in the 1800s and its name due to bonuses given to encourage players to try it. One such bonus was a ten-to-one payout if the player’s hand was the ace of spades and a blackjack (either the jack of clubs or the jack of spades). This hand was called a “blackjack” and the name stuck to the game even though the ten-to-one bonus was withdrawn.

Beat the dealer’s hand

The ultimate objective of the game is to beat the dealer’s hand. To achieve it has to exceed the dealer’s total and not to go over 21 (to bust) when the dealer does. Card suits have no special meaning in Blackjack, picture cards count as 10 and the ace can count as either 1 or 11. The total of any hand is the sum of the values in the hand. For example, 4-6-8 totals 18, a jack -5 totals 15; a king-ace totals 21. Having a hand exceeding 21 means busting.  Very easy and simple game indeed.

Hard and soft hands are important to know. The reason to know the difference between a hard and soft han in blackjack is that the playing strategy is different even if the total of the hand is the same. For example, a 10-7 (hard 17) is played differently than an A-6 (soft 17). Soft hand in fact offers another chance to improve the total without busting.

Blackjack Rules Explained

blackjack rules explained

Blackjack is played on a semi-circular table with a maximum of seven players. After completing a round, the player can buy chips from the dealer. The same player can play more than one hand per round. It can be played with 4, 6 or 8 decks of French cards.

The players’ cards are dealt face up and to begin are given two to each player. According to the total received the players decide whether to hit which means getting another card from the dealer, or to stand that means being satisfied with the total received.  

When a player receives a pair of cards of the same value he can split. The player splitting has to make another bet equal to the original bet. Splitting enables the player to play each card as a hand. Aces represent an exception as most casinos allow only one draw card to each ace.

Doubling down

Doubling down allows the player to double the initial bet in return of one draw card. Surrender in contrast us a playing option where the players forfeit the hand immediately receiving half of his/her original bet. Surrender blackjack is technically a variation of this game.


Insurance is allowed to the players when the dealer’s upcard is an ace. Players can make an insurance bet less than or equal to one-half of the initial bet made on the hand. They win their insurance bet if the dealer has a ten-value card in the hole. A winning insurance bet pays off at 2 to 1 odds.

When the player has a blackjack hand and the dealer has an ace showing, the dealer will ask the player if he wants “even money.” Even money means the dealer will automatically give the players a 1 to 1 (or even money) payoff on the bet before checking the down-card for a potential blackjack. Taking even money yields the same result as making an insurance bet on your blackjack hand.

Very important to be aware of, is that unlike players, the dealer in blackjack has no playing options. Casino rules specify that a dealer must draw if his or her hand totals less than 17 and stand when the total is 17 to 21. In some casinos, dealers must stand on soft 17 and in others, they must hit. It’s better for the player if the rules specify the dealer must stand on soft 17 because this gives a strategic advantage.

Advantages of playing blackjack

advantages of playing blackjack

The most important reason to play blackjack is because of favourable math. Unlike other casino games, in fact, blackjack is the fairest casino game. It is essentially a game of skill and not solely chance. Mathematicians define it as a game based on dependent trial processes unlike Roulette for example. In fact, the cards dealt in previous rounds restrict or increase the chances of receiving a blackjack. 

By learning a simple playing strategy players can reduce the house advantage to less than 1%. These techniques are based on the composition of the cards already played.

The casino advantage is essentially very simple and it occurs after a push. Push happens when a player and the dealer total the same. However, when the player busts after a push he or she loses her bet even if the dealer does.

On the other hand, there are player advantages. These are: receiving a 3 to 2 bonus payoff on a blackjack; being able to double their wager (for example doubling down) in favourable situations like being dealt a two-card 11; being able to split pairs. Players can stand on totals of 12-16, whereas a dealer must always hit a total of 16 or lower.

To sum up single deck and double deck games are statistically speaking more favourable to the players because of card counting.

Now that you know the basic rules of blackjack, it’s time to test your skills by playing our blackjack games online.