Blackjack Primer
Basic Rules of Blackjack

The object of Blackjack is very simple: to achieve a total that is greater than that of the dealer, and which does not exceed 21. Even if other players are present at the table, the dealer is your only opponent in the game.

There are relatively few decisions to make when playing Blackjack. You must consider your cards and your dealer's card and remember, if you go over 21, you "bust", and if you "bust" you lose.

Play progresses as follows:

  1. A card is dealt, face up, to each player in turn and then one to the dealer. The dealer's card is face down and called the "hole" card.
  2. A second card is then dealt, again face up, to each player.
  3. Starting from the player to the left of the dealer, each player decides whether to draw further cards.
  4. After all players have completed their hands, the Dealer proceeds to draw cards to complete the Dealer's hand.
You win if:
  • Your total is higher than the Dealer's total
  • The Dealer goes over 21 or "busts" (provided you have not previously busted yourself).
If your total is the same as the Dealer's total it is a "stand-off" and you neither win nor lose.

If you go over 21, or the Dealer's total is greater, you lose.

These rules remain largely unchanged (with some minor variations) whether your are playing online blackjack or sitting at a table in a casino.

The Values of the Cards

Cards in Blackjack are assigned the following point valies:

  • Picture Cards (Jack, Queen and King) each count as 10 points.
  • An Ace counts as 1 point or 11 points, whichever is better for owner of the hand.
  • All other cards have their numerical face value.
Jokers are not used when playing Blackjack. (More on Card Values)

What is a Blackjack?

Blackjack is a combination of an Ace and any 10 or picture card with your first two cards. It pays one and a half times your bet unless the dealer also draws Blackjack, in which case you have a "stand-off". (More on Blackjack)

Restrictions on the Dealer

The dealer plays according to a strict set of rules. Dealers must take another card if their hand totals 16 or less. Dealers must stand (not take any more cards) if their hand totals 17 or more.


If your first two cards are of equal value you may split these to form up to three separate hands. Aces may be split to form only two hands. You will receive an additional card for each hand, however a wager equal to your original bet must be placed each time you split.

Casino rules vary concerning splitting hands, so check with your dealer first. (More on Splitting Pairs)

Doubling Down

You may place an additional bet (not exceeding your original bet) if your first two cards total 9,10 or 11 (without aces). You will be dealt one additional card when you double.

Again, rules may vary at some casinos, so be sure to ask your dealer. (More on Doubling Down)


If the first card dealt to the dealer is an ace, the dealer will announce "Insurance". You may then place an insurance bet of no more than half your original bet, to insure your hand should the dealer make Blackjack.

An insurance bet is paid at odds of 2 to 1 and will only win if the dealer makes Blackjack. If the dealer does not make Blackjack the insurance bet is lost. (More on Insurance)

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