Hundreds of thousands of players have heard the message that blackjack is the one that can best of all the casino table games. In the early 1960s a realistic device was made available to the public to count cards in blackjack to obtain an advantage over the casino. As was the case, few players have ever really managed to beat the dealer. The playing rules have since improved. Some tables use more than one deck at a time or take out of play several cards so a counter of cards never sees them.

Even though most players don’t have the potential to win consistently, it was enough to spark a boom in the game to believe blackjack can be beaten. Blackjack is by far the most popular casino table game in the USA, combining more players than craps, roulette, and baccarat.

The Pack

The regular 52-card pack is used but many card decks are shuffled together in most casinos. The most famous of these is the six-deck game (312 cards). The dealer often uses a blank plastic card that is never dealt with but is put at the bottom of the pack to signify that it is time for the cards to be reshuffled. They are dealt from a shoe when four or more decks are used (a box that allows the dealer to select cards one at a time, face down, without necessarily carrying one or more packs).

Rules & Regulations

Blackjack is played on one or more regular 52-card cards, with a point value assigned to each denomination. The face value is worth the cards 2 through 10. Kings, queens and jacks each have a value of 10 and aces can be used either as 1 or as 11.

The player’s goal is to draw cards that total closer than the dealer’s cards to 21, without going over.

A two-card 21, or blackjack, is the best total of all. Blackjack pays 3-2–that is, a two-card 21 on a $5 bet would win $7.50 on other winning hands instead of the normal $5 even-money payoff. If the dealer also has a 2-card 21, however, the hand pushes, or ties, and you just get your original bet back. Yet if the dealer goes on drawing 21 in three or more chips, the blackjack game is still a 3-2 payout winner.

The game is normally played on an arc-shaped table with places on the outside for up to seven players, and on the inside for the dealer. There is a rectangular placard at one corner of the table that says the minimum and maximum bets at that table, and also gives variations in specific laws. The sign may for instance say, “BLACKJACK. $5 to $2,000. Break each pair three times.

Double on any two cards. “This means that the minimum bet at this table is $5 and the limit is $2,000. Pairs can be divided according to the rules listed below, and if further similar cards are dealt, the pairs can be split up to three times for a total of four hands. The player can double the original bet (double down) and receive only one additional card for any two-card total.

Play starts when you put your bet directly in front of you by stacking a chip or chips in the betting square on the table. Every player and the dealer are given two cards after all bets are made. All player cards are dealt face up in a shoe game, and the players are not allowed to touch their cards. For a hand-dealt single or double-deck game, cards are dealt face down and players can pick them up with one hand. Nonetheless, one of the dealer’s cards is face-up turned so players can see it.
When the cards are dealt, players, in turn, determine whether to play their hands out. The dealer plays according to set rules after all the players have finished: The dealer must draw more cards to any total of 16 or less and stand on any total of 17 or more.

When the cards are dealt, players, in turn, determine whether their hands should be played out. After all the players have finished, the dealer plays according to set rules: The dealer must draw more cards to any total of 16 or less and stand at any total of 17 or more.


Not all games made for blackjack are created equal. Some rule changes are good for the player and some are evil. The changes in the edge of the house may look low, but in a game in which the total edge of the house is less than 1 percent against a simple strategy match, they make big differences. Here are some common variations and their effect on the advantage over the house:

Double downs after pair splitting allowed

A very nice rule for the team, it cuts 0.13 percent of the house advantage. For areas where multiple casinos are within reasonable reach, the player will select games where doubling is permitted after splits.

Re-splitting of aces Allowed

The player who splits aces earns only one more card per ace at most casinos. Though some casinos require the resulting pair to be re split if the player earns another ace. This choice reduces the edge of the house by 0.03 percent. Having a game that goes even further by allowing the player to draw more than one card to a split ace is uncommon, a choice that cuts the edge of the house by 0.14 percent.

Early surrender

The dealer checks if the down-card is a 10 to complete a blackjack before proceeding with the play when the dealer’s face up card is an ace. If the house allows the player to surrender half the original bet instead of playing the hand before  play blackjack online is checked by the dealer, this is early surrender. A fantastic rule, and one seldom seen, for the team, early surrender cuts the edge of the house by 0.624 percent. Surrender can be misused quickly by novices who have not learned a simple strategy.

Late surrender

Seen more often than early surrender yet not yet widespread, late surrender causes the player to give up half the bet instead of playing the hand following free online blackjack checks by the dealers. This reduces the house edge in a multi-deck game by 0.07 percent, in a single-deck game by 0.02 percent.

Double-downs limited to hard 11 and hard 10

Some casinos don’t allow the player to double on less than 10 totals or on soft hands. The net is an improvement in the house edge of 0.28 percent.

Dealer hits soft 17

If the dealer hits hands with an ace or aces that can be counted as either 7 or 17 instead of standing on all 17s, the edge of the house will increase by 0.2 percent.

Blackjack pays 6-5

Popular on the Las Vegas Strip single-deck games, this game is player bankroll breaker. For example, a two-card 21 pays just $6 for a $5 bet instead of the standard $7.50 bet, which adds 1.4 percent advantage to the house— more than the average house advantage against the experienced players ‘ basic strategy in virtually all games of regular 3-2 return.

Now that you know how to play, let’s explore some of the game’s finer points. In the next segment, you’ll hear about the blackjack casino etiquette and strategy.

Categories: How to Play


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