The early origins of Blackjack have not been precisely pinned down by historians, however most tend to agree that the game became well-known in 1700s French casinos. As you might have expected, the game’s original name was not “Blackjack,” but rather a French word which meant “21.” Beyond the 1700s, the game that would eventually be known as Blackjack could be found in some form or another all over the world. Even by the time it reached the Nevada desert, in the early 20th century, the game was still not referred to as Blackjack and was not the most popular card game to be played. That all changed very quickly, and nowadays the game of Blackjack is one of the most recognizable and simplest casino games to learn.
In the following few sections, we will walk you through the steps of a hand of Blackjack so that you can gain a better understanding of this ever-popular game. If you would like to give it a try, make sure to check our page on where to play Blackjack online.
Blackjack Rules and Gameplay
In almost every version of Blackjack you will encounter, the game will be played with a 52-card deck that is free of any jokers. In brick and mortar casinos, it is normal for 4 or more decks to be used at once in order to thwart cheating. Brick and mortar games are most often played with a total of 6 card decks.
While you may end up sitting around a table with multiple other patrons like yourself, you are only ever facing off against the dealer. The basic goal of Blackjack is to defeat the dealer without having your cards exceed 21. At its core it is really a simple game. In order to determine how much your hand is worth, you need to know that numbered cards hold their value (eg. An 8H is 8) while face cards have a value of 10. The only exception to this rule is the Ace, which can count as either 1 or 11—whether it is a 1 or 11 depends upon the other card(s) you are holding. If, for example, you are holding a KD and are handed an AH, the AH will count for 11. If you are already holding a KH and a QC, an additional AH will count as 1 to bring your total to 21. A small disclaimer is that hands very rarely work out as smoothly as they did in the brief example above.
Before play can begin, participants will place a wager on the table. Once all bets have been completed, the dealer will go around the table and lay one face-up card in front of every single player. The dealer will then proceed to deal everyone another face-up card, but will deal himself a second card that is facing downward so that it cannot be viewed by anyone.
If a player around the table is dealt a 10/face card in conjunction with an Ace, they are considered to have hit blackjack and will be paid out immediately. The payout for blackjack is 1.5x the bet that was made. If the dealer, who will then reveal his face-down card, has a blackjack, they will immediately collect the bets of those who do not. In the event that both you and the dealer hit blackjack, the bets will be returned.
If the first round does not result in an immediately blackjack for anyone, play will begin with the first person from the dealer’s left. This person will be tasked with either hitting or standing. In blackjack, hitting is nothing more than asking the dealer to deal you an additional card. Standing, on the other hand, means that you are content with the cards in front of you and are confident that they will beat the dealer’s. A player may hit as many times as they want so long as they do not bust (reach a total of 22 or more). Once every player has had their opportunity to hit or stand, the dealer reveals their second, face-down card and, in similar fashion, decides to hit or stand. Most often, the dealer will be forced to stand if the hand is a total of 17 or more, while they will be forced to hit if the hand totals 16 or less. Once the dealer has acted, winners and loser will be determined and the next hand will begin.
Other Blackjack Rules
As you can tell from reading the above sections, the rules of blackjack are fairly straightforward and easy to comprehend. While that is true, there are some unique events that can happen depending on what cards you are given.
If for example, your first two cards are the same (eg two 4s), you may opt to split that single hand into 2 separate hands. This will also require that you place an additional wager equal to the amount of your initial wager on the newly created hand. Once the initial hand is split you will then play your 2 new hands as you would normally play 1 hand.
Doubling down is another way to create an additional bet and can be done when the first hand totals 9, 10, or 11. Basically, by doubling down, you are making an additional bet equal in value to your first that will then see you given one more card face-down. In essence, doubling down is trying to create maximum value from a hand that is more likely than others to result in a total of anywhere from 19-21. Of course, the dealt face-down card is not always going to be worth 10.
Finally, there is insurance. When the dealer’s lone face-up card is an ace, every player has the opportunity to make an insurance bet of half their original bet. If the dealer then reveals their second card and it is worth 10, the insurance bettors are paid out at 2:1 odds.