The main aim of the game is to end up with a hand that reaches either 21, or as close to 21 as possible, without going over that total. The hand value is added together according to the blackjack card values below.
Blackjack Card Values
In blackjack, face cards are each worth ten points, and an Ace can be counted either as one point, or as eleven points. The player can decide what value they would like to assign to the Ace. All other cards between the numbers of two, through to number ten are all worth their face values.
Basic Blackjack Rules
The casino game of blackjack is usually played with between six and eight decks of cards. These cards are kept on the blackjack table in a shoe, which is a special box to dispense the cards. Either the dealer shuffles the cards, or they are automatically shuffled. Each blackjack table usually seats about six players, and the dealer.
Each player who would like to be in the game places a bet to show his or her intention to play. After that, each players is dealt two cards, both of which are dealt face up in the basic version of blackjack. The dealer receives one card that is face up, and one card that is dealt face down.
After the deal, each player has a turn to draw more cards if they wish to do so. A player that has a value of 21 from the first two cards they are dealt is an automatic winner, and usually receives one and a half times their bet. An instant win is called a blackjack. If the dealer also has a blackjack, this is considered to be a tie, or a push, and the player will get their money back.
A player that reaches a hand value close to 21 should not take any more cards, and should stand. Another term for stand is stick. This means that the player has decided that their hand is either too close to 21 to risk taking another card, which could make their hand go bust if it takes the hand to a value of more than 21.
Any players that have gone bust are now out of the game, and any players that have not gone bust remain in the game. The dealer then turns up their second card for all to see. The dealer does not have the same choice as the players when it comes to drawing a third or subsequent cards.
The dealer must draw a card when their hand value is equal to either 16 or lower, and they must stand when their hand value is 17 or higher.
For those who beat the dealer hand, they will receive the same amount of money as the bet that they placed, plus their own bet. If the dealer goes bust, all the players that have remained in the game are winners. If the dealer ends up with a hand value that is closer to 21 than any of the players, the players with the lower hand value will lose their bets.
Blackjack Side Bets
There are a number of other betting options that are offered in casino blackjack. These bets, and brief explanations are listed below:
- Even Money: When a player has a natural blackjack, and a dealer’s hand is showing an Ace, the player may choose to be paid out immediately at the lower rate of 1:1, instead of waiting to see if the dealer also obtains a blackjack.
- Surrender: If a player feels that their hand is not worth playing out, it is possible to give up half the bet they have placed, and sit out the hand.
- Split Hand: When a player is dealt two cards of equal value, they may choose to split the hand into two separate blackjack hands. A second bet needs to be placed on the second hand that is being played, and it needs to be equal in value to the bet placed on the first hand.
- Insurance: When the dealer is showing an Ace for their face up card, which gives them the chance of receiving a natural hand of 21 points, the dealer may place this bet, at 2:1 odds that the dealer will obtain a blackjack.
- Other Blackjack Side Bets: Some casinos will offer more unusual side bets, which are usually explained in writing, or form part of a specific version of blackjack.