How to Play Blackjack
Now that you’re caught up on the history and development of blackjack, it’s time to delve into what you really came here for: how to play Blackjack. Bear with us – we’re going into the details now.
Blackjack is played at a crescent-shaped table, with the dealer on the smaller inside arc and the players around the outside, larger arc. There are usually places for up to seven players, and at one corner of the table is a placard that lists the minimum and maximum bets along with any variations in the general rules.
Blackjack is generally played with four, six, or eight standard 52-card decks. Each card possesses a point value – cards 2-10 are worth their face value; kings, queens, and jacks are valued at 10 points; and aces are either used as a 1 or 11. The object of the game is the same that it’s always been, and that’s to draw cards adding up to 21 without going over, or at least beat the dealer’s hand. Unlike poker, blackjack players compete only against the dealer and not one another.
The best hand is a two-card 21, known as a blackjack, which pays 3:2 unless the dealer also has a two-card 21 – in that case, the hand pushes and the player receives his or her bet back. If the dealer draws 21 with more than two cards, the player’s two-card blackjack is still the winner and receives the 3:2 payout.
The round begins when blackjack players place a bet in the betting square directly in front of their seats. Once all the bets are placed, all players and the dealer are dealt two cards. In a shoe game – a game where all the cards are dealt from an automatic shuffler – all the players’ cards are dealt face up and the players are prohibited from touching their cards. In a game dealt from the hand, the cards are dealt facedown and players may pick them up with one hand. Kind of strict, but it’s a rule that takes only a few rounds to remember.
In both games, one of the dealer’s cards is always turned face up so the players can see it. Once the cards have been dealt, players get the opportunity to decide how to play their hands. Once everything is decided, the dealer plays according to set rules: he must draw more cards to any total of 16 or less; he must stand on any total of 17 or more; and in some casinos, the dealer will also draw to a “soft” 17, which means a total of 17 including an ace that could be counted as 1.
Finally, based on the outcome of the various hands of the dealer and players, payouts are rewarded or bets are lost. Once the bets have all been settled, the next round begins with new bets placed.
How to play Blackjack: Player Decisions
1 – Hit: Take another card from the dealer.
- Player sign: In handheld games of blackjack, players scrape the cards against the table. In games dealt face up, a player can either tap the table with a finger or wave a hand toward his or her body.
2 – Stand: To not take another card, also known as “stand pat,” “stick,” or “stay.”
- Player sign: Slide cards under chips in a handheld game, wave hand horizontally in games dealt face up.
3 – Double down: The player is allowed to increase the initial bet by 100%.
In other words, double their original wager – for standing after one additional card. The double down bet is placed next to the original wager in the betting box. Many games don’t allow players to increase the bet by anything other than 100%.
- Player sign: Place added chips next to the original wager and point with one finger.
4 – Split: If the first two cards are a pair, the player may decide to split them into two separate hands.
The player moves a second bet equal to the first outside the betting box, where the dealer splits the cards and deals an additional card for each new hand. The player then plays each hand separately. Doubling down and further splitting of already split hands may be restricted, and hitting on split aces is usually prohibited. Blackjacks after a split are considered non-blackjack 21 against the dealer’s hand.
- Player sign: Place added chips by the original bet outside the betting box. Point with two fingers spread in a “V” formation.
5 – Surrender: Player forfeits half his bet and keeps the other half, and is officially out of the round.
This is only available as a first decision, and not available at every casino.
- Player sign: Verbal – no hand signal for this action.
All right, that’s enough for this chapter about how to play blackjack. If you need more time to soak all this wonderful knowledge in, we encourage you to take as long as you like to understand how to play blackjack. If you’re ready to move on, no problem, because we’ve got the next chapter all prepared for you. Check out the next chapter to find out the most important part of blackjack – how to win!