The Objective Of Blackjack:
Your goal as a blackjack player is to end up with a hand
total that is closer to 21 than the dealers hand - without
going over 21. If you go over 21 you lose the hand (In blackjack
terms you have BUSTED your hand if you go above 21.)
Blackjack is a game where your hand only plays against
the dealers hand - so whatever the other players at the
table have is not really of importance (unless you are counting
the cards that is).
After you have been dealt your first cards, you can choose
to HIT and thereby get yet another card dealt to your hand,
or to choose STAND and simply keep the cards that you already
have - hoping the hand will be strong enough to beat the
After all the players have played their blackjack hands,
the dealer players his hand out. The dealer always plays
his hand according to fixed rules - no decision is left
up to the dealer. The dealer must always follow the same
dictated rules for how to play his hand. This would normally
mean that the dealer must draw cards until his hand has
a value of 17 - On most blackjack tables it says "Dealer
Must Stand On All 17's" - as soon as he get to that
total or above he cannot take any more cards.
The Card Values:
* 2 to 9 - Are valued as indicated.
* ACE - Can be either 1 OR 11.
* 10's & Face cards - both have the value 10.
* The suit of the cards has no meaning in blackjack.
* A Blackjack is a two card hand consisting of an Ace and
a card with the value 10.
* A Blackjack beats a 3 card hand with the value 21.
Soft Hands & Hard Hands
As an ACE can represent either the value 1 OR the value
11; which means getting a Ace in your hand is generally
good as the risks of going over 21 gets smaller. When talking
about a SOFT HAND, blackjack players are talking about a
hand where an Ace is used with the value 1. For Example
a hand consisting of ACE and 7 - can add up to the hand
value 8 OR 18, depending on what value you give the ACE.
The choice is yours, and you can change it back and forth
as you please during the play of your hand.
A HARD hand is a hand with a ACE where you don't have the
opportunity to use the ACE as a 1 OR 11. Example: If you
have a ACE, 8 and 6 on your hand you can only count the
ACE as a 1. Because otherwise you would have gone above
21 and thereby busted the hand. Counting the ACE as 1, the
hands value adds up to 15. A hand consisting of ACE, 8 and
6 is called a HARD hand or sometimes a Stiff hand - because
a hard hand is closer to busting then a soft hand is.
The Cards Are Dealt:
After all players have placed their bets on the table (in
the wager box in front of them) the dealer starts out by
giving each player 2 cards each. Starting to the dealers
left - your right. The dealer also gives himself two cards
- one of the dealers cards are dealt face-up so that you
can se it's value, the other card is dealt face down and
you will not see this card before the end of the round -
when the dealer starts playing his hand.
After you have been dealt your first cards - it's time to
decide how to play your blackjack hand the best possible
way. Getting yet another card to the hand is an option,
staying with your current hand total is another. If you
have a pair of cards with the same value you can choose
to split the hand into two separate blackjack hands: Or
if your hands looks like a winner compared to the dealers
hand - you can choose to double your bet size. Below you
can read more about your different options when playing
out the hand.
Choosing HIT will make the dealer give you another card.
Signaling HIT: If you are playing in a
real brick and mortar casino, pointing with one finger to
your existing cards on the table will indicate HIT and the
dealer will give you yet another card. In a hand held game
where you have your two first cards up on the hand - scraping
your cards across the table felt lightly will also indicate
a Hit. So be careful about pointing at the cards at the
table and scratching your cards against the felt if you
do not want another card.
If you don't want another card added to your hand, you choose
to STAND. By choosing STAND you stop at your current hand
total; this is the value that will be competing with the
If you are dealt a matching pair of cards you can choose
to split this pair into two separate hands. In a shoe game
this is done by placing another wager of the same size as
your initial bet beside the stack of chips you initially
wagered. The dealer will then split your hand into two separate
hands for you. You should always split a pair of aces and
pairs of 8's. For more advice on when to split pairs consult
the blackjack chart.
If you believe that you have a stronger hand then the dealers
hand you often have the opportunity to double your bet size
- called a DOUBLE DOWN. Choosing this option will make the
dealer give you one more card - and only one more card.
However DOUBLING DOWN can only be done with your initial
two card hand, before you are dealt additional cards. As
an example; if your first two cards are 5 and 6 - adding
up to 11, and the dealers Face-up card is a 6, your chances
of winning that hand are very good and therefore you may
choose to double your bet.
If the dealers Face-Up card is an ACE, the dealer will offer
the players a chance to buy INSURANCE against the dealer
getting a blackjack. Insurance bets can be made by betting
half your original bet amount in the insurance betting strip
in front of your bet. The dealer will check to see if he
has a 10-valued card underneath his Ace, and if he does
have Blackjack, your winning Insurance bet will be paid
at odds of 2:1. You'll lose your original bet of course
(unless you also have a Blackjack), so the net effect is
that you break even (assuming you bet the full half bet
for insurance - some tables will allow you to bet up to
half, including less.) This is why the bet is described
as "insurance", since it seems to protect your
original bet against a dealer blackjack. Of course, if the
dealer does not have blackjack, you'll lose the insurance
bet, and still have to play the original bet out. The insurance
bet is normally a poor bet for the player, with a high house
Not many casinos offers you this opportunity - but a few
do. Surrendering offers you as a player the choice to fold
your hand, at the cost of half of the original bet. If you
wish to surrender your hand this must be done before starting
to play your hand. There are two different kinds of surrender;
EARLY SURRENDER and LATE SURRENDER. Early and late surrender
differs in the way they handle a blackjack. In an EARLY
SURRENDER game, a player may choose to surrender before
the dealer checks his cards for a blackjack, offering a
cheap way out even if the dealer turns out to have a blackjack.
Because this offers a healthy advantage to the player, this
version (early surrender) is rarely offered. The much more
common variation is LATE SURRENDER, where the dealer checks
for blackjack first, and then only if he does not have blackjack
will allow players to surrender their hands.