How To Play Blackjack

The Beginner's Guide for Playing Blackjack

Blackjack is a wonderful game for beginning card players to learn. The rules are simple and it moves along quickly, making it easy to stay interested. This does not mean that it is only a game of chance. There is still strategy involved, something that makes it as popular with seasoned players as newbie's. Anyone who has heard of the game, but not taken the time to actually play should reconsider and discover how exciting it can be.

The Basic Rules

The goal of the game is to get as close to 21 as possible without going over. The game can be played using one deck of cards or multiple decks. Most casinos will use multiple decks. Numbered cards are their value in points, aces can be either 1 or 11 and face cards are each worth 10 points. Dealers must hold when their own cards total 17 or more and must take a card if they are below 17.

Basic Terminology Used

  • Blackjack- reaching the score of 21 with the first two cards.
  • Hit – asking for an additional card.
  • Stand – staying with the current number of cards.
  • Bust – exceeding 21 points.
  • Soft hand – having an ace without a ten-point card


How Blackjack is Played

Dealers will give all players, and themselves, two cards to start. The dealer will have one card face up and one down, the players will have both cards facing up. Some versions allow the players to hold their cards, preventing others from seeing their hand. The player to the left of the dealer will be given first option to either take another card or stay with what they have. The decision can be verbal or communicated with hand gestures. A sideways wave with the palm parallel to the surface of the table means they want to stand, scratching the table is a signal for another card.

Additional Betting Options

When two exact cards are dealt they can be split and played as two separate hands. Insurance is a side-bet that is optional if the face-up card the dealer gives himself is an ace. Many players do not feel this is a worthy bet because the odds are against the dealer having a natural 21. Doubling down allows players to double their bets after they have seen their initial cards. With this option, the player who chooses it will receive only one more card. The card will not be revealed until the end of play.

Common Strategy Tips

Every player will develop their own system over time, but there are many tips that pros have to offer. A lot of strategy has to do with what the dealer have visible. Most players will stop at a score of 12 or more if the dealer's visible card is lower than six. If the visible card is higher than six, most continue until reaching at least 16 points. Never split face cards, tens or fives, because they add up to ten. Always split aces.

The easiest way to learn is to play. By trying out a few hands with friends or through an online casino, players can quickly begin to catch on to this interesting game. After a few hands it becomes simple to figure out even more strategic moves that can lead to big wins later on.