How to Play Blackjack – A Simple Guide to the Rules of the Game

Blackjack Rules for Beginners

Next to Poker, Blackjack is arguably one of the most popular card games to play at a casino, at home and even online. It’s popular due to its engaging yet simple rules and, unlike many games at a casino, is a game where you can actually use your knowledge and experience and increase your chances of winning.

Casual players can enjoy Blackjack thanks to the simple rules that are surprisingly in-depth once you get used to how the game works.

Even if you have never played blackjack before, you can learn to play within a few minutes. The blackjack rules are simple and you can learn them with practice.

To help you out, we’ve put together this ultimate step-by-step guide on how to play Blackjack, and we’ll also give you a couple of tips to help you maximize your chances of winning.

Remember this is asimple guide on how to play Blackjack. If you are familiar with the game then we recommend going straight to the our dedicated live blackjack online page.

Blackjack Rules Explained: The Basics

Blackjack is a fairly simple game that doesn’t take much to start learning how to play. You can play blackjack at home with your friends, at your local casino, or try your luck online.

The game is also known as “21” in some cases and requires at least two players. Although it’s primarily a casino game, it can still be simplified and played by younger audiences (in which case it’s often referred to as 21 and not Blackjack).

The aim of the game of blackjack is to get a better hand than the dealer

When it comes to online blackjack there is the additional option of live blackjack online. In this version players can enjoy this casino game with real live dealers. There is live streaming from a studio or a land based casino in some cases and players can interact with the live dealer. Just like if you are on a land based casino.

Blackjack Table

Blackjack table
Classic Blackjack Table 5 Seats

There are various types of Blackjack tables depending on where you play. There are tables with just one seat (usually the online blackjack) and tables with 5 and 7 seats that players can find in online live casinos and land based casinos.

The layout of the blackjack table is the same regardless if you play online or offline. The type of the blackjack table, the shoe, the payouts and any side bets that are available are displayed on the table.

Blackjack Table Layout
  • For each seat, there is a box in which the player can place their bet. The cards are dealt directly next to the shoe
  • The dealer’s cards are dealt with the second card’s value face down
  • The betting limits of the blackjack table, and the payouts for winning and insurance are clearly displayed on the table
  • The card shoe – the dealer pulls the cards from here. In online games, this is done virtually
  • In the middle of the table, the main payouts and rules are clearly visible to players
  • The blackjack table rules are the same on every table regardless if you play on a land based casino or online

    Blackjack Cards

    Blackjack uses a standard deck of cards minus the joker cards.

    However, when playing at a casino, it’s typical to see four, six or even eight decks shuffled into one large pile.

    The pile is then placed in a box known as a shoe which allows the dealer to easily remove one card at a time face-down. In online games, the box is also used but the card passes a scanner to electronically record the card drawn so that it can display in a gaming interface on the website. For smaller tables, two decks of cards may be used.

    Card Values in Blackjack

    This is the most important part that new players of this game need to get familiar with. Cards are worth their value with face cards being worth 10. Jack, Queen, King are also worth 10. Aces are worth either 1 or 11 depending on the player’s choice.

    blackjack card values
    Blackjack Card Values

    There are no other special rules regarding the cards.

    How to play Blackjack: Step by Step

    Now that you know the basics about the blackjack table and the blackjack cards, lets have a look at how you actually play this game.

    Step 1: Getting your cards. Each player (including the dealer) is given two cards at the start of the game either face-down or face-up depending on the style of game.

    In larger casino games where cards are dealt from a shoe, cards are dealt face-up and players are not allowed to touch them. In a more private or smaller game, cards are dealt from the hand and will be face-down. Players can touch them and view them how they see fit.

    Step 2: Making a decision. Players now have their cards and they can see one of the dealers card as well. So they can now make a decision of how to proceed.

    This will depend on their cards as there might be options of Hit, Stand, taking Insurance, Double Up or Split. Let’s have a look at these options

    Hit or Stand

    Hit in blackjack is when you request another card from the dealer when it’s your turn.

    The optimal time to hit depends on the strategies that you’re using, but the goal is to get closer to 21 without going under or too high. There’s no real limit to the number of cards you can ask for but you should always be careful of how far you can push it before you go bust.

    Blackjack Hit or Stand option
    Blackjack Hit or Stand

    Remember that if you or the dealer go over 21, then you automatically loose.

    Stand in Blackjack is when you are happy with your cards and you dont want another card

    Once the players are happy with their hands, the dealer will proceed to play the game. The dealer will then compare their cards to each player and resolve games accordingly.

    Split Pairs

    Splitting is an option when the first two cards you are given have the same value. You can split your pairs to treat them as separate hands, meaning you effectively play twice.

    This does mean that you’ll need to double your bet as both cards need to have the equivalent of your first bet. You will play your left hand first then once you are satisfied, you will play the right hand.

    If both your cards are aces, you only receive one card for each ace and cannot take another. If a 10-card is paired with one of those aces, then the payout will be the same as a regular hand and does not take on the bonus of a blackjack.

    Great care needs to be taken when splitting. Splitting a pair of aces is almost always a good move and splitting 8s can also work. Ten-cards should not be split and neither should a pair of 5s because they are effectively a 10, making it a valuable starting value.

    Insurance in Blackjack

    Before you make any decisions regarding your cards, you may have the choice of placing an insurance bet. Insurance in blackjack is a type of side bet that is often available if the healer’s first card is an Ace.

    This means that you’ll place a bet that is half the value of your original bet. If the dealer reveals their cards and there is no blackjack, you will lose your insurance bet and play as normal.

    When this happens, there’s a possibility of the dealer having blackjack which means they will win.

    However, if the dealer has a blackjack, then you will lose your regular bet and lose the hand but you will win the insurance bet.

    An insurance bet should be seen as a side bet if you‘re confident that the dealer has blackjack, otherwise, it’s best not to place an insurance bet.

    Blackjack Insurance

    Double-Down

    If your cards total 9, 10 or 11 then you have the option of doubling your bet, but you are only given one more card which is given face-down until all bets are settled.

    As a basic rule of thumb, having 11 means you should always double-down. At 10, you should double-down unless the dealer has an ace or 10-card. At 9, you should only double-down if the dealer has a small initial card such as a 6 or lower.

    3 scenarios of a blackjack hand

    Player wins with a 21

    Dealer has an 18 but player has a 21 which not only is a better hand but its a blackjack and pays out 3 to 2 instead of 1 to 1!

    Dealer goes bust and Player Wins


    In this scenario player has a total of 20 which is a great hand anyway. Dealer has 24 and goes bust. Note that dealer has to stand on 17 and has to tale another card if the have below 17.

    Dealer wins with a better hand

    If the dealer has a better hand and they dont go over 21, then the dealer wins. In this case dealer has 18 and Player 15/Graphic/image

    More advanced Blackjack card games rules

    Now that you have mastered the basic rules of the game, let’s have a look at some more complicated features. In this section, we’re going to go in-depth with concepts within Blackjack to help you understand the game better

    Blackjack Odds and Payouts

    Blackjack is a great casino game and a lot of fun. But how much can you win in blackjack? Let’s have a look at odds and payouts.

    • If you beat the dealer, you gain your bet back plus whatever you yet, so you essentially win with a payout of 1:1.

    For example if you bet £5, you win another £5 and receive your bet back, totaling £10.

    • If you win with a blackjack which is when your first 2 cards equal 21, you’re immediately paid out 3:2.

    For example if you bet £5, you’ll get the bet plus £7.50, resulting in £12.50.

    • If you and the dealer have the same number, then it will result in a push and you will receive your money back.

    Table limits determine the minimum and maximum amount that you can bet on one hand. You must bet in order to be counted as in the current game.

    Outcome
    Payout
    Player Wins1:1
    Player gets a Blackjack3:2
    Player same hand as dealerPush

    We don’t recommend that you go too high with your bets or else you will quickly lose all of your funds. Instead, we suggest aiming to make lower bets so that you can play more hands and have a better chance of winning.

    Sitting Out

    If you decide not to play then you are free to sit out one or two games to go toilet or answer a call. However, you cannot hold a table for too long if you are at a casino.

    When you’re using an online casino, your spot will be frozen and you can rejoin but if another player takes your spot, you will not be able to join again until there is an extra space for you.

    Following a strategy on Blackjack

    Good blackjack players follow a strategy in order to reduce the casino house edge and increase their chances of winning.

    As a general rule of thumb, you should always hit until you reach a total of 17 or more if the dealer has good cards such as a 10-card, 9 or 8.

    If the dealer’s first card is low, then you should stand at 12 or higher and hope that the dealer goes bust drawing over 21. This is because the dealer is forced to continue hitting until they reach 17 or higher.

    As we have already mentioned these rules will be displayed on Blackjack tables to remind you. This means that if the dealer has 16 and you only have 12, they are forced by house rules to continue hitting, meaning there is a possibility that they will go over 21 and you will win.

    They cannot see that their hand is higher than yours and stop because they will win–they must follow their own rules.

    Keep in mind that these are very basic Blackjack strategies but should hopefully help you understand the game and its rules a little better. You can either develop your own strategies or look at someone else’s ideas to help you get started.

    Useful Blackjack Facts and Stats

    • On average, a player will hit a blackjack every 21 hands
    • You have a 31% chance to draw a 10-card.
    • This means that if the dealer is showing an ace, there’s a 31% chance they have Blackjack.
    • Dealers will bust around 28% of the time
    • Good players can reduce the amount they bust to under 20% if they develop a strategy
    • Most players will win around 48% of all the hands played, but this can be increased with the property strategy and by varying your bets.