Blackjack (sometimes referred to as 21) is the most popular casino card games in the world. In blackjack you play against the house with the goal of getting the best hand closest to 21 without going over. The game is believed to be of Spanish origin originating as far back as the early 1600’s.

How To Play Blackjack

Before you get started, the most important thing to know for blackjack is that aces can be valued at either 1 or 11. If you are dealt an ace and a face-card then you have been dealt blackjack (or 21) and the only way you can avoid being paid out is if the dealer also has blackjack (this will be treated as a tie or push and you will just get your bet back).

1) Players sit down at a table that will hold from 1 to 7 players in a half-moon shape.
2) Players place their bet (which can vary based upon the table limits set forth by the casino)
3) The dealer deals 2 cards to every player at the table (face-up) and 2 cards to themselves (1 face-up and 1 face down)
4) Players then have the option to request more cards (hit), stand pat with their hand (stand), split their cards if they have 2 of the same card (split), or double their bet and receive 1 more card (double down). The goal is to get closer to 21 than the dealer without going over (busting).
5) The dealer then has to flip their other card over. If they have less than 17 they must hit until they reach 17 or higher. If the dealer goes over 21 (busts) then all players still in the hand at the table will be paid out on their bets.

Blackjack Rule Variations and Other Rules

Several Casinos offer many different variations to either give the house or the player a higher advantage. Some things you may see are:
Dealer hits on soft 17 – Typically most casinos the dealer will stand if they are showing a soft 17 (which means they have an Ace plus a 6 (A hard 17 would be any other combination of 2 cards that add up to 17 without an ace).
Surrender – Some casinos have an option where players can surrender their hand and take half of their bet back.
Insurance – If the dealer is showing an ace players are given the opportunity to buy insurance on their hand. It is a side bet of up to half of your original bet that pays 2 to 1. Most blackjack experts will say that it is typically a bad idea to take insurance unless you are counting cards and are quite sure the dealer has blackjack.
Blackjack Switch – This is a fun variation of blackjack where you are dealt 2 hands to start off. You then have the option to switch your second 2 cards between the hands to improve your starting hands.
Tie Goes To The Dealer – Some charity casinos have rules where a tie or push goes in the dealers’ favour and counts as a win for the house.
Dealer Pushes on 22 – This is commonly seen in blackjack switch (where the player has a slight advantage) they will occasionally add a rule to reduce this advantage by saying that the dealer pushes on 22.
Side Bets – In some variations of blackjack you can bet on certain things happening in the hand. For example, in one variation of blackjack if you make 21 with 3 7’s you will win a large jackpot.

Blackjack Basic Strategy

Blackjack is a very mathematical game which has been studied for many years. There is something called “basic strategy” which tells you how you should play your hands based on the mathematical odds. Here is an example of a blackjack basic strategy chart provided by Bodog: