Casino Gambling Guide

Blackjack rules

On this page you will find a quick and easy guide to blackjack rules. The game of blackjack originated in France, and is therefore also known as vingt-et-un (French for twenty-one). Blackjack is by far the most popular casino table game around, because with a little skill you will able to turn the odds in your favor, or at the very least, minimize the house edge to less than 1%.

Tip: Both Cryptologic and Boss Media offer a single deck Blackjack game. The house edge on the former approaches zero, and on the latter it's actually slightly in favor of the player. Microgaming offers a variety of Blackjack variants, ranging from two to eight decks.

Blackjack rules detailed

The objective of blackjack is to draw cards totaling closer to 21 than the dealer draws, without going over 21 (busting). A typical blackjack table has room for 5 to 7 players. Each player has his or her own seat in front of their betting circle, the area where the bets are placed. The cards are dealt clockwise from a shoe. Each player is dealt two cards. The dealer takes two cards, one face up (the up card) and one face down (the hole card).

Value of the cards

It is important to distinguish between hard and soft totals. A hand consisting of an ace and a 6 has a soft total of 17. A soft hand can never bust if you take an additional card, because the ace can count for 1 or 11.

Card Value of card
Ace 1 or 11, whichever is to the player's advantage
2-10 face value
J, Q, K 10


If the dealer's up card is an ace, the dealer invites the players to take insurance. A player takes insurance by placing a separate independent side bet of up to half the amount of the original bet. If the dealer's hole card has a value of 10, the dealer has blackjack, and you will be paid 2 to 1 on the insurance bet. All original bets are removed from the table. This effectively means that you will break even if you place a full insurance bet and the dealer has blackjack. If the dealer's hole card does not have a value of 10, the insurance bet is removed from the table, and the game continues as usual. Unless you know how to count cards, *never* take the insurance bet, as you will lose more money in the long term.


If you receive an ace and a card that has a value of 10 for your first two cards, you have blackjack. Blackjack pays 3 to 2, unless the dealer also manages to get 21 with his or her first two cards, in which case you have a push, and you will neither win or lose. If the dealer manages to get 21 with 3 or more cards your blackjack still wins.

Finishing the game

If you do not have blackjack on your first two cards, you may decide to stand (draw no more cards), or hit (draw more cards). If your card count goes over 21 (bust), you lose. A dealer's blackjack wins over a player's 21 (with three or more cards). The dealer must always hit on 16. Depending on the blackjack rules that are used by the casino, the dealer must always stand on 17, or is allowed to hit on soft 17. If the dealer goes over 21 (bust), he or she must pay all hands remaining on the table. If the dealer doesn't bust, the value of the dealer's hand is compared to your hand. If the total value of your hand is higher than the total value of the dealer's hand, you are paid 1 to 1. If the total value of your hand equals that of the dealer, you push, meaning you neither win or lose. If the total value of your hand is less than the total value of the dealer's hand, you lose your original bet.


Some casinos offer the player the option to surrender on a bad hand. This means you are allowed to discontinue play for the round at the cost of half your original bet. With late surrender you will still lose you entire bet if the dealer has blackjack. In fact the dealer first checks for blackjack, before offering you the option to surrender. With early surrender you can surrender before the dealer checks for blackjack, and you will lose only half your original bet if the dealer has blackjack.

Splitting pairs

If your first two cards have the same value, you may split them and form two separate hands by wagering an amount equal to the original bet. Each hand will be played and completed in turn. You may draw as many cards as you wish on each split hand. When you split aces, you are frequently only allowed to draw one card to each ace (in this case an ace and a card with a value of 10 are not considered as blackjack, and count for 21). Depending on the particular rules the casino uses, you may or not be allowed to resplit, and to double down on split hands.

Doubling down

After you are dealt your first two cards, and unless your hand totals 21, you are allowed to double down. In this case, you can increase your bet by an amount up to your original bet. You will then be dealt only one more card. Some casinos restrict the cards that you are allowed to double down on.

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