Complete Blackjack Rules

Blackjack stands out as one of the most entertaining and strategic card games in the casino. When the game first emerged in French land-based casinos during the twentieth century, nobody could foresee the immense popularity and traction it would gain. Today, it stands as the most popular table game in casinos worldwide, and while it’s a game that’s easy to grasp if you’re a beginner, knowing the rules and best online blackjack strategies is key to winning. 

Blackjack Variants

Unlike some of the more complicated table games like craps or certain video poker games, learning how to play real money online blackjack is easy and straightforward. While there are different versions of this game, the rules do differ slightly for each one. Whether you want to play basic Pontoon, classic blackjack, or something more tactical like Perfect Pairs or Super 21, each variant has something exciting to offer. For the purposes of this guide, we’re going to discuss the rules for playing a standard, single-deck game of blackjack. 

How to Play Blackjack: General Rules of the Game

Whether you’re playing online or offline, the objective is the same in every game: to reach a total of 21 or as close to 21 as possible without exceeding this amount (busting). Every round of blackjack begins with players placing their bets and receiving two cards face-up on the table. Depending on the total of the two cards, the player may then take another card to increase their hand value (hit) or stick to the hand total they have (stand). 

The dealer then deals themselves two cards and, depending on the total value of their hand and the variant being played, must either hit or stand. Whoever is closest to 21 out of the two wins the round. Understanding how and when to make these moves is crucial as they can greatly influence the outcome of the hand and who wins. 

Unsurprisingly, the best hand in blackjack is ‘blackjack’, which pays more than any other card combination and has a payout ratio of up to 3:2, depending on the casino and the game variant you are playing. A blackjack is made up of any face card i.e., K, Q, J, or ten plus an ace. The only time you can get a blackjack is on the first two cards you are dealt at the start of the round. Even if the dealer’s hand is also a blackjack, you’ll still receive a payout. 

All face cards equate to ten in this game and an Ace counts as an 11 or a one, whichever you prefer. Having the luxury of being able to choose which value you wish the ace to represent can be highly advantageous when certain cards appear.

For instance, if you’ve got an ace and a four, your total could be either five or 15. When the ace counts as 11, we call the higher total a ‘soft’ total. So, in this case, it’s a ‘soft 15’. You can ask for another card, or ‘hit’, or double down on a soft hand without risking a bust. But remember, even with a soft hand, hitting doesn’t guarantee you’ll end up with something better.

Winning hands in blackjack will typically pay out at even odds, which means you’ll get back what you wagered. So, if you bet 20 chips and win, you’ll usually get 20 chips in winnings along with your original bet. However, in certain game variations where Blackjack pays out at 3:2, if you’re dealt Blackjack and the dealer isn’t, you’d receive 30 chips in winnings on top of your original bet.

When your hand ties with the dealer’s, it’s termed as a ‘push’. In such cases, you’ll get back your original wager but won’t receive any additional winnings. If you lose a hand, you’ll forfeit your bet to the house. However, there are exceptions to these basic rules, which are detailed below and in the rules section of each game variant.

Payouts are normally awarded after the dealer finishes their hand. It’s always a good idea to review the rules of each variant to identify any specific differences, especially concerning how the dealer plays and pays out, as these rules often vary. What sets variants apart when it comes to the rules is whether the dealer hits or stands on a soft 17. In some versions, the dealer must stand on a soft 17, while in others, they must hit. Regardless of the variant, the dealer always hits on any total of 16 or less, whether hard or soft.

How to Split, Double Down and Surrender

You aren’t just limited to hitting and standing in blackjack – it’s usually a lot more exciting than that! Depending on the casino offering the game and the variant, you’ll have the option of side bets and the chance to choose different other moves when you are dealt your initial hand. These moves include:


Splitting divides one hand into two, giving you an extra opportunity to win the round. When you split a hand, you can add an extra bet of the same value as your original one on the new second hand. Splitting is applicable in the following scenarios:

  1. When you receive two initial cards of the same rank (like king-ten, six-six, etc.). Each hand is then played independently and can win, lose, or tie separately.
  2. In certain blackjack variations, you can split identical cards more than once.

Splitting does have limitations, however, especially when it comes to aces. When you split two aces, most blackjack variants only allow one card to be drawn to each of the new hands. This limits your chances of improving your hand through hitting, splitting, or doubling down.

Doubling Down

To double down means to double your original bet, but only in specific situations:

Once you’ve been dealt your first two cards, you can place an extra bet (matching your initial wager) and draw one more card in a bid to improve your hand.

In some game variations, doubling down is allowed even after splitting. If you plan to do this, however, note that the same rules for doubling down will apply once you’ve done the split.


Surrendering is another option available in certain variations of blackjack. This option allows you to forfeit your hand to reclaim half your wager if you’re dealt a weak first card and feel it has little chance of beating the dealer. 

Side Bets

As mentioned, some blackjack variants offer additional side bets that you can opt for with the aim of improving your hand or lessening your chances of losing your entire stake. These are as follows:


In certain variations of the game, you can opt for what’s known as ‘insurance’ when the dealer’s first card is an ace. This move allows you to wager half of your original bet amount in exchange for a 2:1 payout if the dealer has blackjack. If the dealer does indeed have blackjack, you’ll break even on your hand. 

Even Money

Like insurance but effectively in reverse, you can opt-in for an even money bet if the dealer is showing an ace but you’ve been dealt a blackjack. Regardless of whether the dealer has blackjack or not, you’ll receive a 1:1 payout if you opt for this bet. If you don’t, the hand will play out as normal. 

Summing Up 

As you now know, blackjack isn’t a particularly complex game. Compared to a table game like craps, where there are dozens of different betting options, blackjack is a lot more straightforward and easy to grasp. However, it still offers some great opportunities to win a lot of money consistently, especially when you apply a blackjack strategy

Like any gambling game, it’s important to understand the ins and outs of each version, whether it’s basic Pontoon or more complicated types like Perfect Pairs or Super 21. Knowing when to hit, stand, split, or double down can really make a difference, and there’s no harm in exploring side bets like insurance and even money if you’re looking to add some extra excitement to your gameplay. 

Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been playing for years, diving into the complete rules of Blackjack guarantees a fun and rewarding time at the virtual tables right here at Planet 7. 

A staff writer at Planet 7, Kate Church is an avid reader, professional writer and lover of games. After taking her Bachelor of Arts degree in English writing and a minor in journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno, Kate has traveled the world, seeking out adventure, knowledge and games of skill and chance.