Blackjack rules...beat the dealer, but don't bust!


Blackjack is one of the most popular casino games and with simple rules and great returns if you know what you're doing its no wonder this is the case.  The premise of the game is simple...get a higher hand than the dealer's without going over 21 and you win you bet.

Here is how it is played… 

All numbered cards are worth face value, pictures cards are worth 10, and the Ace is 1 or 10 - whichever produces the most favorable outcome.  The game starts with the player placing a bet in their bet box.

Once the bet is placed, the dealer gives the player (s)  2 cards, face up, and him/her self 2 cards, one face up, one face down.  The player now has a number of options, as follows:

  • "Hit": ie take another card.  You can hit as many times as you want while your hand still totals less than 21.  If your hand total goes over 21, you bust and lose your bet;

  • "Stand": ie do not take another card;

  • "Double down": You may double your bet and receive one more (one more only!) card;

  • "Split" pairs. If your first two cards of the deal are the same value, you can split the cards and play two hands by placing a bet of the same value as your original bet on the second hand. So if you split a pair of 9’s you create two separate hands, each with a value of 9. Then you proceed to play out each hand as you would do normally.

  • Take insurance if the dealer's face up card is an Ace...see below

Once the player (s) have made their choices, the dealer will turn over their face down card.    If the dealer's hand totals 17 or higher he/she must stand, they are not allowed to take additional cards. If the dealer’s hand is 16 or under he/she must hit until the hand has a value of 17 or higher.  The bust rule also applies to the dealer, so if they hit on 15 and draw a 10, they bust.

The fact that the dealer's hand is played out last is where one of the big house advantages lies, since even if the dealer busts, players who have already gone bust still lose their bet.

Live hands are compared at the end of the deal, and all players with hands higher than the dealer's win...all those below the dealer's lose.  If the dealer has gone bust, all live player hands win.  If you beat the dealer with a normal hand you win even money on your bet.  If you win with Blackjack (Ace and a 10/picture) you win 3 to 2 on you bet.

One other thing you should know about is Insurance...

Insurance will be offered when the dealer's face up card is an Ace.  If you take the insurance bet, you are betting that the dealer's down card will be a 10 (ie the dealer gets blackjack).  The insurance bet amount is almost always 50% of your initial bet stake, and pays 2 to1 if you win (ie the dealer gets blackjack).

So here's an example:

  • your initial bet stake is $100;

  • the dealer's up card is an Ace and insurance is offered;

  • you take the insurance (ie answer yes to dealer's offer to take the insurance bet) and therefore stake $50 on the insurance bet;

Now given the above scenario:

  • if the dealer does get blackjack...you lose your $100, but get 2 to 1 on the insurance bet - ie $150 so the overall effect is a $50 win.

  • if the dealer doesn't get blackjack...you lose your $50 insurance then play out the hand (ie hit pass etc) and either win or lose the original $100 stake.

Just a word of warning though...insurance is a high house edge bet, so you are probably best served by avoiding it.

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