Rules of Blackjack
Each player and the dealer are initially dealt 2 cards. Each player's hand is played against the dealer's hand only. If you obtain a hand value closer to 21 (without going over) than the dealer does, you win your hand.
The most powerful hand possible is a hand value of 21 in your first two cards. This hand contains an ace and a ten valued card and is known as a "blackjack". When you receive a blackjack, the dealer will pay you three chips for every two that you have bet unless the dealer also has a blackjack. When both you and the dealer have blackjacks your bet is simply retained by you.
You, as a player, determine when to "hit" (take another card) and when to "stand" (stop taking cards). The dealer has fixed rules governing his play. He must hit until he has seventeen or more. Each player that obtains a hand value less than or equal to 21 and greater than the dealer's hand value wins an amount equal to his wager. Conversely, when the dealer gets a hand value less than or equal to 21 and greater than a player's hand value, that player loses his bet. If both a player and the dealer end up with the same hand value, it is know as a "push". A push bet is neither won nor lost.
The cards two through ten have a numerical value equal to the number printed on the card. All face cards (Jack, Queen and King), as well as Tens have a value of ten. Aces may be counted as either eleven or one. Card suits have no value. For example, a hand consisting of a ten of hearts and a queen of hearts is equal to a hand consisting of a ten of diamonds and a king of spades. Both of these hands are also equal to a hand containing two fives and a ten, regardless of suit.
Soft and Hard Hands
When you have an ace in your hand that counts as eleven (ex: you have Ace-Six for a total of 17), you have what is know as a "soft hand". Think of the ace in your hand as flexible or "soft" because the hand value can always be reduced (ex: Ace-Six can also be counted as 7). If you hold no aces or have an ace in your hand that counts as one (ex: Ace-Six-Seven for a total of 14), you have a "hard hand".
Bets and the Deal
At the onset of each hand, each player places his bet. All players and the dealer are then each dealt two cards. The dealer always deals his own cards face down. After the dealer has dealt everyone two cards, he will turn his first card face up for all to see. The dealer's other card (his face down card) is often referred to as his "hole card".
If the first two cards dealt to you are cards of equal value, you may "split" the pair combination. If you split, another bet, equal to your initial bet, is placed alongside your initial bet. When you split you effectively play two individual hands. The right most hand is played out first, followed by play on the hand on your left. If aces are split, you are only allowed one hit for each ace. Any ace drawn to a split ten is not a blackjack. However, the dealer will need a blackjack to beat any hand of 21.
You may "double down" on a hand which consists of two cards. As the name of this move implies, you double your original wager. When you double down, you are dealt only one additional card to your hand.
When the dealer has an ace showing you have an "insurance" option. By taking the insurance wager you are betting that the dealer has a blackjack. The insurance bet costs one-half your original wager, and the payoff, should the dealer indeed have a blackjack is two to one.
Blackjack Tips (beat the house)
With two cards you can Split, Double Down, Hit or Stand, otherwise, your decision is whether to Hit or Stand. Always count the Ace as 11, unless it will put your hand over 21, then count the Ace as 1. You have a soft hand if you have an Ace in your hand that counts as 11, otherwise you have a hard hand. Always consult the Split Strategy table, followed by the Double-Down Strategy Table, then the Hit / Stand Strategy Table.
- Always split Aces and 8s
- Never split 10s, 5s or 4s
- Split 9s if the dealer has 9 or less
- Split 7s, 3s and 2s if the dealer has 7 or less
- Split 6s if the dealer has 6 or less
If the recommendation is not to Split, consult the appropriate Double Down strategy table.
Double Down (hard hand)
- Always double on 11 unless the dealer has an 11 (Ace) up
- Always double on 10 unless the dealer has an 10 or higher up
- Always double on 9 unless the dealer has a 7 or higher up
Double Down (soft hand)
- Always double A6 or A7 if the dealer has 3, 4, 5 or 6 up
- Always double A4 or A5 if the dealer has 4, 5 or 6 up
- Always double A2 or A3 if the dealer has 5 or 6 up
If the recommendation is not to Double Down, consult the appropriate Hit / Stand strategy table.
Hit / Stand (hard hand)
- If the dealer has a 7 or higher showing, hit until you have at least 17
- If the dealer has a 6 or less showing, hit until you have at least 12
- If the dealer has a 2 or 3 showing, also hit a 12
Hit / Stand (soft hand)
- Hit A7 if the dealer has a 9, 10 or Ace up
- Always hit A2 through A6