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GAMES: Blackjack rules

Blackjack is the easiest casino card game to learn and play, which explains its popularity. If you can count to 21 and master a few simple rules, you can begin playing almost immediately.

Object of the Game:
The object of Blackjack is to reach a higher card count than the dealer without exceeding a total card count of 21. Regardless of the number of players at the table, your only opponent is the dealer. Face cards equal 10. Aces equal 1 or 11, whichever is to the player's advantage.

Rules of Play:

  1. Each player places a bet for the next hand in the betting box.

  2. The dealer deals the cards from dealer left to dealer right, with everyone receiving two cards. Each player receives two cards face up, and the dealer receives one card face up and one card face down (called a hole card).

  3. Starting with the player to the dealer's left, each player decides whether to accept more cards (hit) or whether to refuse more cards (stand). Except as noted below in special circumstances, each player may continue to receive cards until his or her total card count exceeds 21 (bust).

  4. After each player completes his or her turn, the dealer takes a turn.

Dealer Rules of Play:
The dealer plays by more restrictive rules than the players, usually as noted below.

  • If the dealer's hand is 17 or more (excluding soft 17), the dealer must stand, or refuse to take another card.

  • If the dealer's hand is 16 or less, the dealer must hit, or take another card. Also, if the dealer has a "soft 17" (an Ace and 6, remember the ace is 1 or 11) the dealer must take a hit or another card.

And the Winner Is...
Remember that you play only against the dealer, so you need not keep track of your hand against the other player's hands. Compare your hand against the dealer's hand.

  • The hand that comes closest to 21 without exceeding 21 wins.
  • If you bust, the house automatically wins, even if the dealer subsequently busts.
  • If the dealer busts and you don't, you win, regardless of the value of your hand.

Card Values
Each card has a numerical value:

Card Value Card Value
2 2 9 9
3 3 10 10
4 4 Jack 10
5 5 Queen 10
6 6 King 10
7 7 Ace 1 or 11
8 8 Joker Not Used

Blackjack automatically wins the game, unless both the dealer and the player have a blackjack, in which case the hand is a tie. A Blackjack hand consists of an Ace and one of the following cards: 10, Jack, Queen or King. Blackjack is often called a natural or natural 21.

When your first two cards are of equal numerical value, you may split them into two separate hands and place an additional wager, equal to the original wager, on the second hand. For example, if you have a 10 and a Jack, the cards can be split since a 10 and a Jack are equal in value. If you split two Aces and you receive a card with a 10-point value, the hand is counted as 21, not Blackjack.

Double Down
After you receive your first two cards, you may double your initial bet unless you are holding a 21. After doubling down, you may receive only one more card. Doubling down is usually done when the player has a nine, ten, or eleven and the dealer's up card is a six or less.

If the dealer shows an Ace, you may make a side bet equal to of your original bet. This is a separate bet to insure against the dealer getting a Blackjack. If the dealer has a Blackjack, you get double your insurance bet and you lose your original bet-even money. If the dealer has anything other than a Blackjack, you lose your side bet, and the original bet for the hand remains in play.

Even Money
If the dealer shows an Ace, and you are holding a Blackjack, the dealer will offer you the option of even money when the other players are offered insurance. If you accept even money, you are betting that the dealer also has a Blackjack.