Important Blackjack Rules

As one of the casino games with the lowest house advantage, blackjack is a great choice for any gambling enthusiast. The rules of blackjack are fairly simple but the game does take a little getting used to. That’s why we always recommend new blackjack players try it out online before going to a live casino. Online blackjack can be played at any speed because there aren’t any other players at the table.

The object of the game is to get closer to 21 than the dealer without going over. The strategy for the game is a bit more complicated but even that isn’t too difficult with a little preparation. Some casinos even provide blackjack strategy cards that explain the right move for every situation.

Card Values

Numbered Cards (2-9): Same points as the number on the card

Face Cards (Jack-King): 10 points

Aces: 11 points or 1 point

Sample hand: A player with the cards Ace-5 will have a total of either 6 or 16, whichever the player wants. The ace is worth either 1 or 11 and the five is worth 5 points. Once the value of the Ace is established, it is not firm. It can be changed as needed.

Player Rules

1. Each player places a bet on the table in the designated area.

2. Each player is dealt two cards face up.

3. Each player may now draw as many cards as he or she wishes to get as close to 21 as possible without going over.

4. If a player goes over 21, the hand is called a “bust” and the bet is lost.

5. If a player is dealt an ace and a face card, this is called a “natural” or a “blackjack.” When players are dealt blackjacks, the casino pays out a bonus, usually at odds of 3:2. So if a player had bet $5 on the hand, that player would be returned $7.50.

6. If the player gets closer to 21 than the dealer, that player is paid even money on his or her bet.

7. If the dealer gets closer to 21, the dealer wins the bet.

8. Ties are considered pushes and players’ bets are returned to them.

9. If the dealer goes over 21, every other player who did not also go over 21 wins the bet.

Buying In

When you’re ready to try your hand at a live blackjack table, buying in is pretty easy. All you do is approach an empty seat and wait until the current hand is finished. Sometimes you’ll have to wait until the dealer shuffles again before you’re allowed to sit in.

When you find a break in the action, put your cash in front of you on the table and wait for the dealer to count it and hand you your chips. You’re not allowed to hand the cash directly to the dealer so just leave it on the table in front of you.

An average amount for buying in is roughly 10-20 times your betting amount. So if you’re playing $10-a-hand blackjack, you might want to bring $100 to $200 with you. This is a short bankroll but it’s enough to keep you at the table for a while.

Cashing Out

You may collect your winnings by waiting until the end of the current hand and then placing your chips in front of you in between the betting areas. The dealer may exchange your smaller chips for ones of larger denominations. After that, just take your chips to the cashier’s cage and collect your cash.

Five Card Charlie

Some casinos also have what’s called the “Five Card Charlie” option. This is a rule that allows players to win the hand automatically if they get to five cards without going over 21. The player with five cards doesn’t have to compete against the dealer for points or anything else. It’s an automatic win. Some casinos pay 2:1 to players who catch Five Card Charlies.

Dealer Rules

Casinos give their blackjack dealers a very specific set of guidelines they must adhere to when dealing blackjack games. The rules vary a little from one casino to the next but the most common two variations deal with when the dealer must take more cards.

Dealer Stands on All 17s

Under this rule, the dealer must stop taking cards when his points total reaches 17, whether hard or soft. Hard hands mean the point total is achieved without the use of an ace. Soft hands mean the hand includes an ace and the points total is not necessarily set in stone.

This rule variation slightly decreases the house advantage.

Dealer Hits Soft 17

Under this rule, the dealer only stands when his hand total reaches a hard 17 or soft 18. If the dealer has a soft 17, he will draw another card.

Example: If the dealer has an Ace-6, he must hit. If the dealer has a 10-7, he must stand.

This rule variation slightly increases the house advantage.