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Blackjack Rules: The Ultimate Guide 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. On this page, you can find out how to play blackjack in a casino, the rules of the game and much more.

Blackjack Guide

Blackjack is popular due to its engaging yet simple rules and unlike other casino games, it is a game where you can actually use your knowledge and experience to increase your chances of winning.

Blackjack rules are identical whether you play at a casino in the UK, in Canada, in the USA, in China or anywhere else in the world.

Even if you have never played blackjack at a casino before, you can learn to play this game within a few minutes. The blackjack rules are simple and all you need to do is 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.

Here is a video summary of this article from our YouTube Channel to get an idea of what we are discussing on this page.

Remember, this is a simple guide on how to play Blackjack at a casino table whether this is online or a land-based casino.

If you are familiar with the game then we recommend going straight to our dedicated live blackjack online page. On that page you can find the different blackjack tables online, some advanced tips and the best UK live casinos that you can play this game!

Blackjack Rules UK and Worldwide

Here is a summary list with the basic Blackjack Rules:

Time needed: 1 minute

Blackjack Rules List

  1. Blackjack can be played with one to eight standard 52-card decks

    The number of decks will depend on the table you choose to play and the place you play (Land-based Casino, Online Casino, the type of blackjack table etc).

  2. Card values are face value from 2 to 9, Aces count as 1 or 11. 10 and face cards count as 10.

  3. If the dealer has an ace showing, then they have to offer a side bet called “insurance”

    Insurance can be useful in the case that the live dealer draws a blackjack. In that case, you get some of your initial bet back.

  4. The players options after getting their cards are: Stand, Hit, Split, Double Up and Surrender (in some tables)

    Every table will offer the first 4 options but Surrender is something that only specific tables will have. These tables are usually called Blackjack Surrender so they are easy to spot.

  5. The higher point total between the player and dealer wins.

    Your aim is to get a higher total with your cards compared to the live dealers cards.

  6. If the dealer goes bust (total points of over 21) then any players that are still in the game win

    The dealer will bust from time to time and you will win if you are still in the game (so you haven’t gone bust as well).

  7. A winning hand in Blackjack pays even money, except a winning blackjack which usually pays 3 to 2

    Blackjack payouts are usually visible on the blackjack table

If you want to learn a bit more about blackjack including more details about the rules of the game then keep reading!

Blackjack Rules Explained

Blackjack 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.

What do we mean by a better hand?

If the dealer has a total of 17 then you should have 18 or above to win! Its that simple.

The live blackjack option

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.

The majority of the live blackjack tables are streamed from Latvia. This is where two of the biggest live casino software providers, Evolution Gaming and Playtech have their studios.

However, there are a number of Blackjack tables that are streamed from the UK, London in particular.

The Rules of Blackjack are obviously the same regardless the location.

Let’s have a look at the blackjack tables layout and the cards

Blackjack Tables

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 with the cards, 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.

    When you play 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 although this is very rare to find in casinos.

    Face 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.

    Face card values in blackjack
    Blackjack Card Face 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, let’s have a look at how you actually play this game.

    Step 1: Get 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 the 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: Make a decision. Players now have their cards and they can see one of the dealer’s cards as well. So they can now make a decision on how to proceed.

    This will depend on the value of their cards and there will be the options of Hit, Stand, taking Insurance, Double Up or Split.

    Let’s have a look at these options in a bit more detail.

    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. 10’s 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

    Read more about blackjack insurance.


    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

    The 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!

    The dealer goes bust and Player Wins

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

    Dealer wins with a better hand

    If the dealer has a better hand and they don’t go over 21, then the dealer wins. In this case, the dealer has 18 and Player 15.

    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, totalling £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.

    Player Wins1:1
    Player gets a Blackjack 3:2
    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. Check out the best blackjack strategies in more detail.

    Blackjack tips that casinos don’t like you to know

    Players that follow even basic blackjack tips are not good news for casinos. Casinos don’t really like this kind of player. They don’t want players to know how to reduce the house edge because then they are not making so much money!

    Live Blackjack Strategy & Tips

    There are several strategies out there that you can learn and apply when you play blackjack either online with a live dealer or just at their local casino. However, there are also some simple and easy to remember tips that can help you stay ahead of the game and reduce the casino house edge in the long term.

    Here are some basic blackjack tips:

    • Always hit a soft 17 (i.e. ace-6), split aces and 8s, double down on 11, and stand on a hard 17 (or greater)
    • Never split 5s or 10s and never stand on 12 through 16 if the dealer is showing a 7 or higher
    • Never play cards when you’re drinking.
    • Never believe you’re on a winning streak and never over-bet or make foolish plays.
    • Never play for extended periods of time
    • Never take insurance. Unless you’re keeping track of the ratio of aces and 10-cards remaining in the stack of cards still to be played (i.e. the shoe), the odds are against you
    • Never get emotional about cards. Emotions are distractions and might cause you to make excessive bets or playing strategy errors that will cost you dearly
    blackjack strategy table
    Basic blackjack strategy chart

    Bonus Tip

    Remember the fundamentals – Don’t sit down at a Blackjack table without learning a “basic blackjack strategy” chart.

    This is a one-page chart that specifies every hit, stand, double down, and split decision to be made at the table for every possible combination of cards in your hand and the dealer’s “up” card.

    You can find these charts online for free.

    Once you’ve learned basic strategy, the house edge will go down dramatically.

    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.

    Frequently Asked Questions about Blackjack Rules

    Can the dealer hit on 17?

    In the majority of tables NO.  But in some tables, the dealer hits on a “soft” 17

    What is the best way to play blackjack?

    Just learn the basics and play with a bit of strategy. You can reduce the house edge significantly if you follow the blackjack strategy charts

    How to win money at a blackjack casino

    There is no absolute answer to this question. Blackjack is a gambling game and there is no guarantee you will win money. However, if you play with a basic blackjack strategy you can reduce the house edge and increase your chances of winning.

    How many decks of cards do casinos use for blackjack?

    Most casinos use 6-8 decks of cards for blackjack.

    Other interesting blackjack pages you might want to check are counting cards and unlimited blackjack!

    Ready to play? Grab a live casino bonus and play at one of our recommended casinos.