Blackjack Basics

Blackjack is one of the most popular casino games in the United States. In this article, I want to give a quick rundown of the game for those that might be new. I will keep things very simple. In other articles, I will explore the game further. Are you ready for a lightning fast primer to the game of Blackjack? Let’s get started.

Hand Values

First, you need to know that each card is worth the value printed on it. For example, a Two of Clubs is worth two points. An Ace can be one or eleven—your choice. Face cards are worth ten each. If you are holding a face card and a seven, you have 17. Simple right?

Blackjack basics

Pay Amounts

All bets pay even money with the exception of Blackjack, which pays 1.5 to 1. A Blackjack is a face card and an Ace and only occurs when your first two cards dealt are these two. If, for example, you bet $10 and received a Blackjack, you would win $15. There are modifications of Blackjack that have other side bets, but we won’t get into that here since those are more of a carnival attraction.

General Game Flow

Blackjack is played at a table with at least you and the dealer. You don’t need other players at the table, but it can be fun to have others to talk to. The hand starts with the dealer dealing one card to each player—starting from the dealer’s immediate left. The dealer will flip the first card over for all to see. The dealer then deals one more card to everyone—so you start with two cards. The dealer’s second card is tucked under the first so it can’t be seen. Once the cards are dealt, play begins. The player on the dealer’s left goes first. The game progresses clockwise, and the dealer plays last.

Hand Actions

Note: Bust or Busting is when you go over 21. If you do this, your hand is over and you lose.

When it’s your turn, you have the following actions:

Stand: If you love your first two cards you can stand, which means to pass. If you decided to take cards, you will come to a point where you will want to stand, unless you bust.

Hit: If you want another card, you take a hit. You can hit as long as you like—as long as you are not over 21.

Double Down: You have the option of doubling your wager and taking one final card. 11 is a popular double down hand in Blackjack.

Split: If you have two cards of the same rank, like two 8’s, you can split them to form two separate hands. Splitting your hand costs extra money.You will need to double your previous wager. For example, if you bet $10 and received two 8’s, it would cost $10 more to split them.

Surrender: This option is available at some houses. When you surrender, you quit the hand and lose 50% of your wager. Some people like to surrender when the dealer is showing a high card and they have bad initial cards.

Insurance: If the dealer has a possible Blackjack, insurance will be offered. By making an insurance wager equal to 50% of your initial bet, you can get all your money back if the dealer has Blackjack. However, if there is no Blackjack, you lose your insurance bet. Most pros will tell you that it’s a sucker play—including me.

What Next?

You are now up to speed with the basics of Blackjack. I told you it was quick. Your next step is to continue reading to go deeper in the game. Remember, playing and winning are two different things. To win over the long term, you need to understand the game completely.