The Complete Guide of How to Play Blackjack

Blackjack is known as one of the world’s most popular casino card games.
The name ‘Blackjack’ derives from an old version of the game where a bonus was awarded to a hand with an Ace of Spades and a Jack of Clubs or Spades. Primarily a game of skill and chance, it appeals to both seasoned players and beginners.

The Aim of the Game

The classic card game of blackjack is built on the goals of beating the dealer and not going bust. Sounds easy, right? Well, not always.

The detail comes in players’ decision-making and how they interact with the dealer. But first off let’s cover the basics.

A player wins at Blackjack by beating the dealer. It’s all about player vs dealer, not player vs player.

A player wins by drawing a hand higher than the dealer’s and not exceeding 21.If the dealer goes over 21, they lose. If the player draws 21 on their first two hands, they win outright.

The Rules of Blackjack

Blackjack plays to a collection of rules that are simple to follow. Variations on the game exist depending on where you play. But the essentials remain the same.

First off, Blackjack is played with a conventional deck of 52 playing cards.

Players make a wager to enter the game. One face-up card is dealt to each payer in a clockwise direction. The dealer deals themselves one card face down.

The dealer then deals the players another card face up and themselves one card face up. So, at the end of the game’s initial stage, every player should have two face up cards in front of them, and the dealer one up and one down.

Suits do not have significance to the numerical amount.

Face cards count as 10.

An Ace card counts as either 1 or 11 depending on the hand.

The players then need to decide how to play their hand.

The dealer asks the player to the left of them how they will proceed.

Players look at their hands and count. It could be anything from 4 – 21. If the player has a card with the value of ten (a ten or a picture card) and an Ace combining to make 21, it means they win immediately. If the dealer also has 21, it is even, and the player won’t lose their first wager.

Hit. If a player wants another card to improve the hand, they can ask the dealer to ‘hit’ them with another card.

Stand. If the player feels the hand is fine as it is, they can stand, and receive no extra cards.

Double Down. If the player has a good hand but needs an additional card, they can improve their initial wager by doubling the amount, receiving an extra card, and then standing.

Split. If the first two cards are of the same value, a player can split them into two hands after making another wager equal to the first. The game is then played with these two hands independent from the other.

Surrender. A player can surrender the game in the opening round if they feel their first two cards are not good enough. The house takes half of the player’s bet, and the player gets the other half back.

If players are still in the game, the dealer will then reveal their hand. They will either bust (go over 21) or stand from between 17 – 21.

The winner is whoever has the higher score. If the dealer wins, they take the player’s bet. If the player wins, the dealer pays out. If the totals of the hands are the same, it’s a ‘push’ and no one loses anything.

European Blackjack versus American Blackjack

Most Blackjack games are based on either the American or European model.

Several key differences can have a dramatic impact on how the game is played out.

The option of ‘surrender’ is unavailable in the European version
American Blackjack gives the dealer two cards, one face down and one face up. If the shown card offers the possibility of 21, they are allowed to have a peek at the covered ‘hole card’ without the players seeing.

In European Blackjack, the dealer only receives their second card after all the players have completed their hands.

In US Blackjack, players can split a hand three times and can split any pair. In European Blackjack only cards with a 10 value (10’s, Jacks, Queens, Kings) can be split and then only once.


p style=”text-align: center;”>The US have their own version of blackjack (American blackjack) which differs to the European version.

Sophistication and Glamour

Pop culture has pushed forward the idea of the cool iconic style of Blackjack. Think James Bond suavely conducting his winning hand on the tables just before a high-speed car-chase in License to Kill.

This element of danger and exhilaration is a crucial part of the game’s fame and enduring appeal. That is why it is a game that still remains popular today, despite being originally played at a table in a land-based casino, online blackjack has also proven very popular with many opting to play the online version.

Offline versus Online

The grandeur of land-based casinos seen in Hollywood movies plays its part in the draw and proven success-story of Blackjack.

But in recent years the online world of gambling has made significant in-roads into pulling players to the virtual card tables.

The flexibility and convenience of online gaming is a significant factor in this move from offline to online. Online gambling outlets have even offered risk-free introductions to gaming, not something that grand casinos would usually think to contemplate.

Blackjack is well known as a physical table game played with others, however the stereotype is shifting with more players opting to play blackjack online.

The Future?

The online share of the gambling market shows every sign of increasing. This, plus the rise of easy to access online operations, has helped to further popularize Blackjack and other virtual gaming experiences.

With so many different options available online, why not try out a hand for yourself and see if you can beat the dealer?

Written by Pablo Reyes Jr

"Believe half of what you see and nothing you read online." - Pablo Reyes