Blackjack Rules and Options

The Objective Of Blackjack

The object of any Blackjack player is to end up with a total higher than the dealer’s without exceeding 21. A hand that goes over 21 loses (in Blackjack rules terms it is called Busting).

The blackjack rules say that any gambler in blackjack is playing against the dealer only. This means that other player's hands are of no importance (unless you are counting cards).

The game starts with each player placing the bets in the wagering circles. After that, each player receives first two cards and he/she decides whether to HIT (get another card) or STAND (get no more cards). Dealer deals himself two cards also, however the rules are different for the dealer, as one of his cards is dealt face down so that no one can see its value. The dealer’s turn is after all the players have played their hands. The dealer’s game actions are always limited by the casino rules. According to the blackjack rules, the dealer must hit until he has a total of 17 or higher.

Card Values (all blackjack variations)

  • 2 - 9 - valued as indicated
  • ACE - either 1 OR 11
  • 10's and Face cards (Jack, Queen, King) - all have the value of 10

NOTE: The suit of the cards has no meaning according to the blackjack rules.

A Blackjack or a Natural is a hand of two first cards that consists of an Ace and a 10-valued card.

Any Blackjack beats any other hand totaling 21.

Blackjack Rules - Soft & Hard Hands

As the Ace may either stand for 1 or 11, it is generally good being dealt an Ace as it reduces the risk of busting. When the value of Ace is counted as 11, the hand is called a Soft hand. E.g. in case the player was dealt a 6 and an Ace, the hand may be either 17 or 7 depending upon the player's choice either to stand or to hit. Blackjack rules permit changing the value of the Ace as many times as the player wishes, as long as the had does not bust.

A Hard hand is a hand where Ace can ONLY be counted as 1 because otherwise the hand will bust. For example, if the player was dealt a 5 and a 10 and he hits and gets an Ace. Now the hand will be counted as 16, not as 26.

Blackjack rules: Playing the hand

The basic player options include the option to Hit, Stand, Double Down, Split, Surrender and take Insurance. Whereas the dealer may only HIT or STAND, which puts the player in more favourable position.

HIT

The Hit option makes the dealer deal you another card. You may hit as many times as you wish as long as you don’t bust.

STAND

The player that signals Stand stops playing his hand at the value he already has. The hand the way it is will be competing with the dealer’s hand. 

SPLIT

In case the first two cards dealt to the player are a matching pair, the player may decide to split them to form two separate and independent hands by doubling the initial bet. The perfect two hands that must always be split are a pair of 8’s and a pair of Aces.

DOUBLE DOWN

In case the player has a strong hand and he believes that one extra card will make his hand strong enough to beat the dealer hand, he may choose to double down. This option requires the player to increase his initial bet and makes the dealer deal him one extra card only. However, according to blackjack rules, this option may only be used on first two cards, or in some casinos, after split also.

INSURANCE

In case the dealer’s up card is an Ace all the players will be offered to insure their hands against the dealer blackjack. The insurance bet usually costs half of the original bet and pays off 2-to-1. In case the dealer does have a blackjack all the initial bets (except for those that also have a Blackjack as these bets tie) are lost and all the insurance bets pay out 2-to-1. In case the dealer does not have a Blackjack, the insurance bets are lost and the players play with the initial bets. This option of blackjack rules brings high advantage to the house, so it’s a good idea to stay away from it.

SURRENDER

Though provided not in many casinos, this option is a good bonus for the player as it gives him a chance to take back half of his initial bet instead of losing all. This option of blackjack rules is provided in two variants, the Early surrender that allows the players to forfeit before dealer checks for blackjack and the Late surrender that allows the players to give up only in case the dealer does not have a blackjack. Needless to say that the Early surrender option is rarely seen in all the casinos as it gives a strong advantage to the player.

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