How to Play Blackjack – A Beginner’s Guide

May 24th, 2010 by admin Leave a reply »

Blackjack is a simple game of comparing two hands, one the player’s and the other the dealer’s, and adding up the total number of points in each. Picture cards count as 10, and an Ace can count as either 1 or 11. Your aim is to make your cards total more than the dealers but not go over 21 (bust), in which case you will lose your stake.

Before the deal begins, you must make a bet, which is placed in the box marked in front of your seat. The dealer then deals one face-up card in front of each box that has a bet in it, one to themselves, then a second face-up card to each active box.

When all the players have two cards each, the dealer will ask the first player what action they would like to take. This action can be one thing at a time from a list of the following possible options, depending largely on what cards the player’s hand holds.


If your first two cards are an Ace and a 10 or face card this is a Blackjack, and you win. A Blackjack is paid at odds of 3 to 2 (a $10 stake will give you a total return of $25, made up of $10 returned stake plus $15 profit). However, if the dealer also has a blackjack, this is considered a tie, and your stake will be returned.


If you want to try to improve your total, you can Hit (or Draw) a card, which you can signify by saying “card”, by touching the table in front of you or by nodding your head. You may continue to do this until you are satisfied with your total, at which point you will Stand. If you hit and bust (go over 21), the dealer will collect your bet and remove your cards.


If you are satisfied with your total, you may elect to Stand and take no more cards. To signify this, you must either say “no card”, shake your head, or pass your hand (palm down) horizontally over the table. All gestures must be unambiguous.


If the total of your first two cards is 9, 10 or 11, without an Ace, then you have the option to double your hand. This is your option to double your original bet on your first two cards and draw one additional card only to improve your hand. To do this, turn over your first two cards and place an equal bet alongside the original bet. In the US, you may have the option to double on any two cards, including combinations including an Ace (soft totals).

Splitting Pairs

If your first two cards are a pair, you may split them into two separate hands, bet the same amount on each and then play them separately. Each hand is played in turn and further splits, doubles and draws are allowed. After splitting, Ace & 10 counts as 21 and not as blackjack, and so will pay out at evens (1 to 1), rather than 3 to 2. UK rules do not allow you to split pairs of 4, 5, or 10 (including picture cards), and some US rules may not allow further splitting or doubling.


If the dealer’s first card is an Ace, you may make a new bet that the dealer will make a blackjack, a practice termed ‘insurance’. You may bet up to half of your original stake on this new wager, and if the dealer’s down card is a 10 or any face card, you will win at 2 to 1. Any other card means a win for the dealer.

Dealer Rules

When you (and all the other players) have finished their hands, the dealer will start to add cards to their hand. They must draw on any total of 16 or less, and stand on any total of 17 or more. If they reach a total greater than 21, then their hand has bust and all remaining players are paid at 1 to 1 (a total return of double their bet), except Blackjacks, which are paid at 3 to 2.

If the dealer does not bust, then their hand is compared against each individual player’s hand. The highest hand wins, and all ties are stand-offs (stake money is returned). A dealer’s blackjack will beat all hands except a player’s blackjack, when it’s considered a tie. Hands are paid as follows:

  • Highest totals are paid at 1 to 1 (even money): $10 profit from a $10 stake
  • Blackjacks are paid at 3 to 2: $15 profit from a $10 stake
  • Ties, stake money is returned
  • Losing hands, player forfeits bet

With over 5 years writing experience on the web Edward has recently been writing on his latest website at offering information and advice about buying riedel wine glasses.

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