Blackjack Rules

How to Play Blackjack Explained in 3 Mins | Learn now


One of the most popular games played in live and virtual casinos all over the globe, blackjack appeals to everyone, from those just gambling for fun to serious players looking to make a profit. While blackjack strategies can be somewhat complicated, blackjack rules are certainly quite simple.

The goal of the game is straightforward enough: get as close to 21 as possible without going over. The game is played against the casino, represented by a dealer, and whoever achieves a higher count without busting wins the hand.

Even though the game is simple enough on the surface, this article aims to explain blackjack rules for beginners looking to add a new casino game to their portfolio. If you have played the game a few times but there are still some things you are unclear about, this text should provide you with the answers as well.

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Blackjack Rules Essentials

Players vs. a Dealer

The game of blackjack is played with a standard deck of 52 cards and Jokers are not used. Depending on the house rules, there can be anywhere between one and eight decks in play at the same time. All decks are placed in a box from which cards are drawn, known as the shoe.

There can be anywhere between one and eight players seated at a casino blackjack table at the same time. Everybody receives their own hand and makes independent decisions. At the end of the deal, every individual hand is compared to the dealer’s hand and winning bets are paid.

Card Values in Blackjack

Since the goal of the game getting as close as possible to the total count of 21, it is naturally important to know how the cards are valued. According to blackjack game rules, the following applies:

Blackjack rules

  • Face cards (Jacks, Queens, and Kings) have a value of 10
  • Aces are counted as either one or eleven
  • Number cards, including Tens, maintain their face value


So, as an example, if you were dealt a King and a 6, your total count would be sixteen. If you had an Ace and a 7, your count would be either 8 or 18. In the second case, you decided to stand, then your hand would be counted as 18. If you drew another card and received a Queen, you would not bust as the Ace would now count as one, and your total would again be 18.

The Deal

With these basics out of the way, it is time to explain the dynamics of the game. At the start of the hand, players will first place their bets. The dealer will then deal the cards out of the shoe and every player will receive two cards, face up. The dealer will also take two cards, but only one of them will be revealed, while the other one will remain hidden until all players at the table have made their decisions.

The dealer will ask every player at the table as to what they would like to do. The players usually have two and, in some circumstances, more options.

The game

  • Hit: ask for another card.
  • Stand: Keep their hand as is.
  • Sometimes a player can split, double, or take an insurance: this is explained a bit later in the text


If the player asks for another card and, after receiving it, his total count goes over 21, that player is busted and he automatically loses his bet. Upon receiving another card, if the count is not over 21, the player is free to ask for another card and he may do so until he busts or reaches the best possible count of 21.

One very important thing to note is that a player who receives an Ace accompanied by a face card on the first deal holds a blackjack. In most casinos, the blackjack pays 3:2, so if you bet 10 units, you would receive your bet back plus another 15 units.

Once all players have made their decisions, the dealer then turns over his second card. If the dealer happens to have a blackjack himself, everybody at the table loses except for the players who also have a blackjack. They will tie with the dealer and receive their bets back, which is known as the push in the blackjack terms.

If the dealer doesn’t have a blackjack, the following rules apply:

  • If the dealer’s total count is 16 or below, he must take another card
  • If the dealer’s total count is 17 or above, he must stand
  • Depending on the house rules, dealer’s are sometimes allowed to stand on “soft seventeen” (explained below)


Therefore, the dealer in blackjack doesn’t have much say in what happens at the table. He simply deals the cards and the rest is up to the luck.

Once the dealer receives his cards, the counts are compared. Those players still in the hand who have a higher count than the dealer win and receive a 1:1 payout (1 unit won for every 1 unit wagered). Players with a lower count lose their bets, while those with exactly the same count will push and receive their bets back.

These are fundamental blackjack rules. The next section explains some special situations that can arise during the play, but if you are really looking to learn blackjack, definitely check out our basic strategy guide to find out exactly when you should hit, stand, split, or double your bet.

How to Play Blackjack

Special Rules Explained

Apart from these basic rules, if you really want to learn how to play blackjack, you need to understand some special rules as well — especially before heading to our tips section. These rules are important part of different strategies and their understanding is crucial to your success at the tables.


Every time player is dealt a pair, like two 8s or two Kings, he has an option to split the cards. In this case, his hand becomes two hands and each one of them plays separately. The player must match the initial bet on his second hand to perform the split.

It the player decides to split two Aces, blackjack game rules dictate that he can only receive one more card for each of his hands. If the second card has a value of ten, the player will only receive a standard payout and not the blackjack bonus.

Double Down

When the total score of player’s first two cards is 9, 10, or 11 he is allowed to double his bet. This means he can place the amount equal to his original bet next to the initial bet before receiving the next card. After doubling down, the player only receives one more card and he is done with that particular hand.


Although this is one of the blackjack rules that never works in the player’s favor, in order to learn blackjack properly you need to be aware of it. When the dealer’s up-card is an Ace, most casinos will allow you to place an insurance bet amounting to the half of the original bet.

If the dealer’s second card has a value of ten, i.e. the dealer turns over the blackjack, the player wins the insurance bet and is paid 2 to 1. Of course, the player still loses his main bet unless he, too, holds a blackjack, in which case it is a push for the main bet.


Some casinos will allow players to surrender their hand based on the dealer’s exposed card. If the player surrenders, he automatically loses half of his bet.

Soft and Hard hands

Soft blackjack hands are the ones containing an Ace, meaning that they can have two different values. For example, a 5 and an Ace represent soft sixteen because your hand can either be counted as six or sixteen.

In the casinos where dealers have to draw on soft seventeen, if the dealer is showing a 6 and an Ace, he still must take card, despite the fact his total can be counted as seventeen


It’s Time to Play Some Blackjack

These quick and concise blackjack rules for beginners should explain everything you need to know to sit down and start playing blackjack. Of course, there is much more to learn if you really want to know how to play blackjack, but knowing rules is fundamental to understanding any strategies and tricks you can use at the tables.

You can keep reading more about the game as there is plenty material on the site but if you are anxious to get in the action, look around for the best bonus Casino Bonus Comparison that fits your needs and test your luck at the tables. The beauty of blackjack is that even with a pretty basic knowledge, you can still go on a lucky streak and win big. The odds may be against you, but if Lady Luck is by your side, you can still come out ahead.