The basic concept of playing blackjack is to get closer to 21 than the dealer without going over. There may be many people playing at the blackjack table, but you are only competing against the dealer. The blackjack dealer has specific rules which they must follow depending on how many points their hand ads up to. These are always either printed right on the blackjack table or clearly displayed on a card on the table. A common one is “Dealer must stand on all 17” or “Dealer must draw to 16 and stand on all 17’s”. These both mean the same thing. If the dealer has 16 or below, he or she must take another card, or “hit”. If the dealer has 17 or more, he or she must stand, or take no more cards. Though this site is not about blackjack strategy, this is why when you hold a poor hand and the dealer has a 6 showing, you should stay because the dealer has a better chance to bust than you have of winning by taking another card. Things like this are why it is important to understand the dealers posted rules.
Blackjack Card Values
The first thing you need to know when learning how to play blackjack is the blackjack card values. I have listed them below.
- Aces are worth either 11 or 1, whichever is more advantageous to your hand.
- Kings are worth 10
- Queens are worth 10
- Jacks are worth 10
- Tens are worth 10
- Nines are worth 9
- Eights are worth 8
- Sevens are worth 7
- Sixes are worth 6
- Fives are worth 5
- Fours are worth 4
- Threes are worth 3
- Twos are worth 2
As you can see, blackjack card values are very easy to learn and remember. All face cards and tens are worth 10, all lower cards are worth their face value and Aces are either 11 or 1.
At the beginning of each blackjack hand or deal, all players place a bet and the dealer gives each player and himself/herself two cards. Each player receives one card, then each player receives their second card. The players cards are both dealt face up and the dealers cards are dealt one face up and one face down. The dealer then checks to see if he or she has a natural blackjack. A blackjack is an Ace and a 10 point card. If the dealer has a blackjack, the hand is over.
If the dealers up card is an Ace, you may buy insurance against the dealer having a blackjack at most casinos, including online blackjack casinos. You pay a fee and if the dealer has blackjack you get paid on your fee. Insurance generally pays 2 to 1, but it is never a good bet mathematically.
Most casinos allow you to split pairs into two separate hands if you want to. For example, if you have a pair of Aces you can split those into two different hands and receive another card on each. When splitting you have to place an additional bet equal to your first bet on the second hand. You then play each hand as an independent hand. This means you can win both hands, lose both hands or win one hand and lose the other.
Some blackjack games give you the option to surrender. This means that when you feel you have no chance of winning after seeing your two cards in comparison to the dealers up card, you can surrender your hand. When you surrender you get half of your original bet back.
Blackjack Double Down
If the casino offers a double down option, you can double your initial wager after seeing your first two cards. In the case of doubling down you only receive one more card. This is advantageous when your first two cards add up to 10 or 11 and the dealer shows an unfavorable up card like a 5 or 6.
When you want an additional card after your first two cards, this is called “hit” at the blackjack table. Players often say “Hit me.” You may hit more than one time while playing blackjack. The only exceptions to this rule are when doubling down and in some casinos you only receive one more card on each hand after splitting Aces.
If you do not want any more cards, you will “stand” on your current hand. Good blackjack hands to stand on are 17, 18, 19 and 20.
That completes the learn how to play blackjack page. I hope you learned a lot, found answers to all of your blackjack questions and I wish you the best of luck at the blackjack tables.