Blackjack Rules

Play free Blackjack NOW! The rules of blackjack are easy to learn and although this section may seem like a lot of reading, there really isn't much to them. The rules listed in this section apply to blackjack in the United States; however, most of them with some exceptions follow the European standard as well. Once you've read over the blackjack rules section, following up with some tips and a good strategy would be good.

Quick guide:

Table and Casino Rules

The first thing you have to do is to find a blackjack table to get some action at. In a good casino you will have a choice of several tables, with varying betting limits and a different number of participants. Usually, the lower limit tables will be the most crowded ones, as not every player feels comfortable with losing $20 on a single bet. Once you have located the table of your choice, you'll need to purchase playing chips from the dealer at that table. Just lay the cash on the table and the dealer will exchange it for an assortment of chips that matches the amount. The most common colours for various amounts are as follows:


Now that you have your chips, you're ready to make a bet. Before the start of each round, place your desired amount of chips in the circle (or box) in front of you. For an explanation of the blackjack layout, visit the blackjack tables section. The blackjack rules dictate that once your cards have been dealt, you cannot change (or even as much as touch) your bet on the table. After the hand is over, lost bets are collected and winning bets will be paid off (added to your stack of chips in the circle or box that you placed them in). When you're done playing, you'll have to take the chips to the cashier in order to get your cash.

Basic Blackjack Rules

The main goal in the game is to get a hand that's closer to 21 (blackjack) than the dealer's without busting (going over). Each player is dealt two cards face-up and the dealer one cards face-down and another face-up. The values of the cards are as follows:

Ace1 or 11
2 through 10face value
Jack, Queen, King10

Based on what the total of your hand is and keeping in mind the dealer's face-up card as well as the other players' cards, you need to make a decision whether to hit or stand. Also, you might be able to double down or split. Please refer to the strategy table on the blackjack basic strategy page for information on how to apply basic blackjack rules to a strategy.

Bust: Going over 21.

Soft Total: A hand that contains an Ace, which can be counted as a 1 or 11. For example if a player has an Ace and a 5, it is a soft 16 (or a soft 6).

Hard Total: A hand that contains an Ace, but which has to be counted as a 1. If the player decides to hit the previous soft hand and gets a 9, it is now a hard 15. The ace has to be counted as 1 for the total to be under 21.

The most common casino rule is that the dealer stands on all 17s. If his total hand is lower than 17, he must continue to hit until the total is greater than or equal to 17. If part of the hand is an Ace, it is always counted as 11. The substitute rule, which also increases the house edge, is that the dealer hits soft 17s (stands on hard 17s or higher and soft 18s or higher). As the blackjack rules dictate, these would be totals where the Ace can be counted as 1 or 11.

Player's Betting Options

Hit or Stand
This is the most commonly used set of options among blackjack players. To hit or stand merely means whether or not to draw another card. The decision can be made fairly easily with the help of a strategy chart, which offers the best odds in each case.

If you are dealt a matching pair of cards, you have the option of splitting them and playing each individually. If you have a pair of two 5s, your best bet would be to split; however, if the pair consists of two 10s, you're best to stand.

Double Down
This option is available only when you are first dealt your two cards. Doubling down means that you are doubling your bet and receiving only one card. There are different opportunities where the double down options can be very profitable. To find out more, consult the strategy chart.

This is the least common options and is rarely part of the blackjack rules enforced at most casinos. The surrender option gives the player the opportunity to fold your hand, only losing half of the original bet. If this option is offered at the table, it must be used before any other (ie. hitting, splitting, or doubling down automatically takes away the option of surrendering).