Blackjack Rules

Knowing about all of the basic blackjack rules there are is the first step towards becoming a professional blackjack player.

Blackjack is one of the most loved and popular casino games out there. But it is also one that involves the maximum number of playing actions and strategies. Knowing about all of the basic blackjack rules is the first step towards becoming a professional blackjack player.

Basic Blackjack Rules

A blackjack hand

It is important to understand the basic objective of the game of blackjack before moving on to the rules and playing actions.

The primary objective is to beat the dealer's hand without going over 21.

The game is played with varying numbers of decks from 1 to 8 with each deck containing 52 cards. The dealer deals each player two cards, face up. The dealer also gets two cards, one of which is revealed, and the other is kept face down. The aces in the game are valued 1 or 11, cards 2-9 are counted at their face value and the 10 and face cards are counted as 10 points.

Each player's hand consists of two cards and the value of the hand is the sum total of the values of the individual cards. The highest hand you can be dealt is an Ace and any card valued at 10, which is considered a blackjack. The player loses if their hand goes over 21, known as busting, or if the dealer's hand is closer to 21 than the players.

Once the game begins, the players are required to make an action, the most common ones are hit and stand. Hitting is when the player asks for an extra card. Standing is when the player does not wish to draw any more cards. The player can hit as many times provided that they don't go bust (i.e., over 21).

Once the player has taken a certain action, it is the turn of the dealer to decide whether they want to Hit or Stand.

A rundown of the basic blackjack rules
A rundown of the basic rules of blackjack

Additional Blackjack Actions

There are several other blackjack actions that players can take depending on their hands and their position in the game.

Double Down

A "double down" is an action taken by the player after they have been dealt their first two cards. By choosing to double down, the player doubles their bet but they can only take one card.

A good situation to double down is when the player holds a total of 11 against the dealer's upcard of 5. In this situation, the player has a very chance of winning the hand by drawing an additional card. The additional bet needs to be placed adjacent to the original or on top of it.

The most common hands where doubling down is the best option to take are; a player's 9 against the dealer's 3, 4, 5, or 6, the player's 10 against any dealer card other than an ace or a 10, and the player's 11 against the dealer's any card other than an ace.

One spot a lot of players miss the opportunity to double down is the player's soft 18 against the dealer's 5 or 6.

Split

Splitting is an option given to the players when their first two cards form a pair. By splitting a pair, the player creates two separate hands instead of one. They are then required to place a second bet of equal value to the first.

When it comes to using this option optimally, it is advisable for players to always split aces and 8.

This is because the ace is a powerful card and pulling a 10 on a split will give the player a 21. Splitting 8 is almost mandatory to avoid getting a 16, which is among the worst hands in blackjack. On the other hand, players should never split 5 or two face cards. Two 5 means a total of 10, which is a hand with strong potential. Face cards and 10 already lead to a total of 20, which is already a fantastic hand and should not be split unless you are card counting.

Insurance

Insurance is more of a side bet than a playing action in blackjack. The option of taking insurance is offered to the player when the dealer's upcard is an ace. It is like insuring the player against the dealer getting a blackjack and giving them a chance to break even on the hand in case the dealer's card total is 21.

Insurance is offered before the dealer has checked their face-down card. The insurance bet is profitable in a few situations like when the player can understand, through card counting, that the remaining deck is rich in 10-value cards.

Blackjack Rules for Physical Tables

A casino

When you are playing blackjack at a table in a land-based casino such as the Bellagio, there is a certain etiquette to follow, which constitutes an important part of the game. Some of the most important ones are:

  • Do not hand your money to the dealer - Blackjack players should simply lay their cash down on the table and the dealer will spread it and count so that the overhead casino security cameras can see. In no circumstance, should you try to hand your money or chips directly to the dealer.
  • Do not hold the cards with two hands - One rule most casinos have is to pick the cards up with one hand and not both hands. This is to prevent players from intentionally switching or tampering the cards.
  • Do not remove the cards from the table - The player's cards must be in full view of both the dealer as well as the security cameras in the casino at all times.
  • Never touch the chips after the game has started - Players are not allowed to touch the chips once the dealer has begun dealing the cards and the game is in progress. You cannot touch your wager until the hand is played out.
  • Signal your playing decision instead of saying - The ideal way of letting the dealer know about your playing decision is by signaling it using appropriate hand signals.
  • If you're unsure - ask for the dealer's advice - It is also good etiquette to ask the dealer for their advice when you're unsure in a hand. They are happy to guide you towards the mathematically correct way of playing the hand or help you out with a rules question. It sounds surprising but dealers often want players to win so that they get good amount of tips.

Basic Blackjack Rules: FAQ

Here are some of the common questions about blackjack rules answered in brief:

What is the value of aces according to blackjack rules? 

In blackjack, aces can be treated as either 1 or 11, depending on the hand. The number will always be the most advantageous to the player so being dealt two aces will not count as 22.

What is a blackjack hand?

A blackjack hand is considered the cards that a player is dealt during a single round. Each player starts with two cards and they can request more from the dealer until they decide to stand or if they go bust.

Can I split my hand anytime?

Splitting can only be done when players are dealt two cards of the same rank - for example, two 8s, two aces, two 5s, etc.

What is an insurance bet? 

An insurance bet is a side bet offered to the player when the dealer's up-card is an ace. The option is given before the dealer checks their face-down card.

Can I still remove my chips when the blackjack dealer starts dealing cards? 

Players are not allowed to remove or even touch the chips they bet on the table once the dealer has started dealing the cards.

These are the basic blackjack rules you need to follow if you want to play blackjack online or in the casino. However, it takes more than knowing the rules if you want to become profitable.

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