Casino BLACKJACK Instruction

Playing the game of Blackjack first learn the rules of Blackjack and the strategy you should follow for the best success. Blackjack is one of the most popular and easy to play casino games. It is played worldwide and requires players to make decisions to try to beat the casino. Blackjack, which is also known as 21 mixes both skill and luck.

The rules of Blackjack play

Every player is dealt two cards.

Each player plays only against the dealer.

The hand with the highest total wins.

If a hand goes over 21, it is called a bust and that hand loses immediately.

After the initial 2 cards are dealt, a player has an opportunity to take more cards.

Cards 2-10 are worth the face value, all face cards are worth 10, and an Ace’s value is worth either 1 or 11.

The object is to beat the dealer by having a higher hand that does not go bust. If the player and dealer have the same hand, it is a push and nobody wins the bet.

A dealer must hit until he has reached at least 17, and usually must also hit if he has a soft 17 meaning he has an Ace.

One of the dealer’s two cards are dealt face down so the player can not see it, this card is called the hole card. 

If the dealer’s up card is an Ace or ten point card then the dealer checks his hole card to see if he has blackjack. If he has an Ace showing, the players are offered insurance. If the dealer has blackjack all players lose their bets unless they also have blackjack and then it’s a push.

If a player is dealt 21, an ace plus a 10 point card, it is called a blackjack and is an immediate winner.  That player is paid 3 to 2 on his bet.

If neither the dealer nor the player has 21, then the player has the option to take additional cards. His choices are to Hit meaning to take another card, Stand meaning to take no more cards, Double Down meaning to double the bet and get only one more card, or Split meaning to take two cards with the same value and have each card be the first card in a new hand, thus doubling the initial bet.

After the player stands, doubles down, or busts it is the dealers turn.

The dealer shows the hole card and must hit until he has at least 17.

If the dealer busts then all remaining players win.

Player bets are paid out at 1 to 1.

Splitting Aces gives only one more card to each ace.

If you split a pair, and receive another of the same rank, you have the option of splitting again.

Some casinos allow surrender, though this is uncommon.  Some have early surrender before the dealer checks for blackjack and some have late surrender after the dealer checks for blackjack. Surrender loses half your bet and you get back half your bet and your betting round is over.

Some casinos do not allow double downs after a split, others sometimes do allow double downs after a split.

You may split any two 10 point cards, but this is rare because 20 is such a strong hand.                

Many casinos offer insurance when the dealer’s up-card is an ace.

The player has this option before the dealer looks at his hole card.

Insurance pays 2 to 1 and is a bet up to half the amount of his original bet. The bet is whether the dealer was dealt blackjack, therefore if the dealer does have blackjack the player loses his original bet and is paid 2 to 1 on the insurance bet, essentially pushing and breaking even.  Insurance pays 2 to 1, but the actual odds are 2.25 to 1 so it is not recommended to take insurance.

If a player has blackjack and the dealer’s up-card is an ace, the dealer offers even money paying the player’s blackjack 1 to 1 regardless of whether the dealer has blackjack or not.  This is basically taking insurance, and since it carries a heavy casino advantage it is not recommended.

Blackjack Strategy

Playing optimal blackjack strategy can reduce the house edge to less then 1%.  Without counting cards, any decision that deviates from basic strategy increases the house edge. The chart below shows the basic strategy.  It is a good idea to memorize this chart or even print off the basic strategy chart and place it alongside of you when you play.  Most casinos do not mind if a player uses the chart while they play.


Your hand

Dealer's face-up card

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

A

Hard totals

17-20

S

S

S

S

S

S

S

S

S

S

16

S

S

S

S

S

H

H

SU

SU

SU

15

S

S

S

S

S

H

H

H

SU

H

13-14

S

S

S

S

S

H

H

H

H

H

12

H

H

S

S

S

H

H

H

H

H

11

Dh

Dh

Dh

Dh

Dh

Dh

Dh

Dh

Dh

H

10

Dh

Dh

Dh

Dh

Dh

Dh

Dh

Dh

H

H

9

H

Dh

Dh

Dh

Dh

H

H

H

H

H

5-8

H

H

H

H

H

H

H

H

H

H

Soft totals

 

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

A

A,8 A,9

S

S

S

S

S

S

S

S

S

S

A,7

S

Ds

Ds

Ds

Ds

S

S

H

H

H

A,6

H

Dh

Dh

Dh

Dh

H

H

H

H

H

A,4 A,5

H

H

Dh

Dh

Dh

H

H

H

H

H

A,2 A,3

H

H

H

Dh

Dh

H

H

H

H

H

Pairs

 

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

A

A,A

SP

SP

SP

SP

SP

SP

SP

SP

SP

SP

10,10

S

S

S

S

S

S

S

S

S

S

9,9

SP

SP

SP

SP

SP

S

SP

SP

S

S

8,8

SP

SP

SP

SP

SP

SP

SP

SP

SP

SP

7,7

SP

SP

SP

SP

SP

SP

H

H

H

H

6,6

SP

SP

SP

SP

SP

H

H

H

H

H

5,5

Dh

Dh

Dh

Dh

Dh

Dh

Dh

Dh

H

H

4,4

H

H

H

SP

SP

H

H

H

H

H

2,2 3,3

SP

SP

SP

SP

SP

SP

H

H

H

H

The above is a basic strategy table for 3 or more decks, dealer stands on soft 17, double on any 2 cards, double after split allowed, dealer peeks for blackjack, and blackjack pays 3:2. Key:
S = Stand
H = Hit
Dh = Double Down (if not allowed then hit)
Ds = Double Down (if not allowed then stand)
SP = Split
SU = Surrender (if not allowed, then hit)

Card counting can influence basic strategy decisions by altering the choice when a player has kept track of the cards that have already been played.  By keeping track, the player can know when the remaining cards in the deck are better then normal for the player or worse then normal for the player. One advantageous situation is when the deck is fat (has more then normal) with 10 point cards and aces hoping to hit blackjack.  Another opportunity is when the deck is fat is to alter your basic strategy somewhat, such as doubling down more hoping to make a powerful hand.

For the most part, stick to basic strategy and avoid increasing your bet if you are losing in an attempt to try and recover your earlier losses.

Online Blackjack

In almost all online casinos one of the most popular casino games is always the online blackjack which has been one of the most played card games for years. The basic idea is to try to get as close to 21 without going over while playing against a dealer who is trying to also get closer to 21. How to play online blackjack is an important skill to know and free games should help you get started learning the basics.