Blackjack Rules

Blackjack is the most popular casino game in existence due to the simplicity of the game and the fact that players can be in control a lot of the time by choosing how to proceed in the game rather than relying purely on chance.

Help: Learn basic Blackjack strategy here


Overall Aim of the card game blackjack

It is important to aim to beat the dealer when playing Blackjack rather than purely aiming to achieve the total number of 21 points with your cards.

Many players think that you just need to get as close to the total number of 21 points as possible to win, however that is a very simplistic view of the game. A true ‘Blackjack’ win is with just 2 cards meaning that the player gets paid out at the odds of 3 to 2 rather than even odds which is usually the case.

A good understanding of Blackjack rules and strategy can greatly increase the probability of winning your games often and becoming a Blackjack expert.


Players compete against the dealer

Your game of Blackjack does not take into account other players at the table but only the dealer who is playing against you. Players do not compete against each other but each individual is pitted against the dealer making for a fun experience with other players using the same Blackjack table with you.

You must try to ensure that you do not go ‘bust’ which is the term used when you have a point total score exceeding 21 and your desire is that the dealer does go bust or that you can get closer to the target of 21 than the dealer does. The dealer does not make decisions in the game but plays by the precise rules that govern the game just as you do.


Blackjack Terms

BUST / BREAK: To exceed the total of 21 points resulting in losing the game.

STAND: To stop having cards dealt to you.

HIT: To request one or more cards from the dealer.

DOUBLE: To opt to double your bet meaning that you can receive only ONE more card during that specific game.

SPLIT: Splitting your hand is permitted when you have a pair of numbers or any pair of 10s in your hand. You then double your bet and are given more cards for each hand. You may hit, stand or double each hand in the normal way after that. Splitting a hand that has a pair of Aces means that the player can only receive one more card for each hand.

It may be stated in the house rules that doubling a bet after splitting the hand is not allowed and some casinos do not permit the re-splitting of Aces so it is important to read the specific rules and conditions posted by the casino concerned.

You may re-split your hand up to 4 times, however an Ace plus a 10 in any hand that has been split will not count as a Blackjack but simply as a score of 21 which can be bettered by the opponent getting a true Blackjack.

SURRENDER: This is an option offered by some online casinos and it will be stated in the rules and list of game variants. A player who has only two cards may opt to ‘surrender’ half of his wager to the house and not play out the game to the end if he feels the situation is ‘doomed’.

More help? Check out our short glossary of Blackjack terms and phrases


Specific Rules

  1. The game of Blackjack can be played using just one deck of 52 cards or as many as 8 decks.
  2. In Blackjack you totally ignore the suits of the cards.
  3. Cards between 2 and 9 have the pip value that you see on them. A 2 is worth 2 points, a 5 is worth 5 points and so on.
  4. The 10, Jack, Queen and King are all worth 10 points each.
  5. The Ace card is of great importance as it is worth 1 or 11 and is needed to create a pure ‘Blackjack’ hand where only 2 cards can be used.
  6. In order to get a ‘Blackjack’ you must have an Ace and a card worth 10 points. This hand of 2 cards takes precedence above all other hands that add up to 21 points. The assumption made by the player and dealer is that the Ace will take the value that makes the best hand so you do not need to state whether it is valued as a 1 or an 11.
  7. A ‘soft total’ is the term that refers to a hand where the Ace could be worth 1 point or 11 points without pushing the total over 21 when the next card is drawn. One example is when you have an Ace and a 5 making a soft 16, as you can draw any card and the Ace can act as a one or an 11 meaning you cannot possibly exceed the target of 21, thus ‘busting’ out of the game. A Hard total is where the Ace needs to be counted as a 1 because if it was counted as 11 you would bust over the number 21. One example is when you have an Ace, 7, 10 adding up to 18. If you gave the Ace the value of 11 you would have a total of 28 which would see you ‘busted’ out of the game.


The Steps of a Game of Blackjack

  1. The player chooses a bet by clicking on the tab indicating the amount desired.
  2. The dealer begins to deal cards to the player on his left with the dealer giving 2 cards to each of the players face up and two to himself. The dealer has one card facing up and one facing down where the card facing down is called the ‘hole card’.
  3. In the event of the dealer having an Ace card facing up, he will offer ‘insurance’ of 2 to 1 through a side bet which is optional to the player. The insurance will be paid in the event of the dealer having any card worth 10 points which will mean that he has a Blackjack. If the dealer sees he has a card face down worth 10 points he will turn over the hole card immediately and declare his win, paying out the insurance bets to players who opted for insurance.
  4. If the dealer does not have an Ace card facing up in the first two cards dealt, he will wait until all players have taken their turn where they choose to stand, hit, double, split or surrender if permitted. He will then turn over his hole card and if the dealer has 16 points or less he will draw another card. If he has a ‘soft 17’ he may not hit. However, some casinos permit the dealer to ‘hit’ despite having a ‘soft 17’ where the dealer has an Ace card plus cards adding up to 6 points.
  5. The player who has not bust (exceed 21 points) will win that game if the dealer busts and he has the point total closest to the sum of 21 when compared to the hands of fellow players in the game.
  6. It may be that the dealer does not bust so the opponent who has the point total closest to 21 wins.


Two Possible Rule Variations for the Dealer

When you decide to play Blackjack you will see one of two sets of rules posted at the table for the dealer to abide by. This must be clearly shown to players.

  1. “Dealer Stands on all 17s” which is where the dealer is obliged to ‘Hit’ or have cards dealt to him if he has a point total that is less than 17. In the case where he has 17 points or more he can opt to ‘stand’ which is the term used when you do not ask for another card to be dealt to you.
  2. “Dealer Hits Soft 17” which is where the dealer possesses a soft total of 17 which means that he has an Ace and a 6 as an example. As the Ace can be worth 1 or 11, the dealer hits again which means he takes another card taking him to a soft 18 or higher where he stands. It may take him to a hard 17 or even higher where he stands (meaning that he does not ask for any more cards).

In a live casino venue there are strict rules about handling the cards that have been dealt and touching the chips that have been placed within the betting circle.

Cards must be held in one hand only. Chips must not be touched once they have been placed in the betting circle. Nothing can be handed to the dealer. Everything is done transparently in full view on the table.


Online Blackjack versus Ground Based Casino Table Rules

In online Blackjack these rules cannot apply as players are not physically seated at a table with a live dealer but click on the relevant tabs on the screen and the actions are carried out electronically.

The cards are shuffled and dealt by a random number generator that is audited regularly by independent companies employed to prove the fairness of the casino. The online casino provides a safe gambling environment where the funds of the players are looked after and customer data is secure.


Other types of Blackjack Rules

There are many different types of Blackjack to be played in casinos around the world, and once in a while, you might stumble upon a less known variant of Blackjack like 21Duel Blackjack or Double Exposure Blackjack.

Are you looking for the rules for one of the more exotic types of Blackjack, then check out the list below featuring sets of rules for a variety of exiting Blackjack-games.