Rules of the Game

Blackjack is one of the most exciting and profitable casino games. However, if you want to beat the dealer and go home a winner it is important to have a solid understanding of the rules of the game. Read on to learn about the basic rules of blackjack as well some of the more advanced rules of the game and the restrictions on the blackjack dealer.

Basic Blackjack Rules

Blackjack is a casino card game that is played against a dealer. While there may be multiple people playing at the same table, each player is playing individually against the dealer. The object of the game is to achieve a hand that is worth more than the dealer's hand, without busting by breaking a total of 21.

The value of a player's hand in blackjack is determined by adding together the value of each of the cards in the hand. Cards numbered 2 through 10 are worth their face value; Jacks, Queens and Kings are worth 10 points each; and Aces are worth either 1 point or 11 points—whichever value results in the better hand.

At the beginning of a round of blackjack, players place their bets and then the game begins. The dealer deals two cards to each player, face up on the table. The dealer takes two for himself but only one if placed face up. Based on the dealer's face up card and a player's hand, the player must decide whether to hit (take additional cards) or stand (keep his hand as-is). The player can also choose from the more advanced options of doubling down, splitting pairs, surrendering or insurance, which will be discussed in the next section.

Once all the players are satisfied with their hands, the dealer reveals his face down card and makes the appropriate play based on the dealer restrictions. Players that beat the dealer are paid, those that don't lose their bets.

Dealer Restrictions

In blackjack, players are able to play their hands as they'd like. However, there are restrictions placed on the dealer, forcing him to follow a specific set of rules for each hand. These rules are as follows:

  • When the dealer's hand is worth a total of 16 or less he must draw additional cards until he reaches a total between 17 and 21, or busts by breaking 21.
  • If the dealer's hand is worth 17 or higher then he must stand.

Dealer restrictions can differ from casino to casino, though these rules are generally standard. Therefore, it is important to ask about dealer restrictions before you start playing at each new casino.

Advanced Blackjack Rules

Many beginning blackjack players stick to hitting and standing in their blackjack games. However, understanding the more advanced blackjack tactics of doubling down, splitting, insurance and surrendering can greatly improve a player's chances of winning at blackjack. Read on to learn about these advanced blackjack moves.

  • Doubling down can be a very profitable move, if you are quite sure of your hand. Doubling down can only be done on a 2-card hand. When you double down you double your additional bet and then receive one additional card. When doubling down, you must stand after receiving your single additional card. If you win, you receive a payout based on a bet that is double your initial bet.
  • Splitting can be done when you are dealt an additional 2-card hand made of pairs. In this situation, you are able to split your initial hand into two separate hands and play them independently.
  • Insurance can be played when the blackjack dealer has an up-card of Ace. In an insurance bet, you may bet up to half of your original bet. Following an insurance bet, the dealer checks his face-down card to see if he had blackjack. If he does have blackjack then you receive a 2:1 payout on your insurance bet, meaning that even if you lose your initial bet you break even.
  • Surrender gives a player the option to fold at the cost of half of their original bet. A player must surrender at the beginning of the hand, before the dealer checks his cards for blackjack. Surrendering is a good move for a player only if they are sure they are going to lose.