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Blackjack Rules

In order to play Blackjack successfully it is essential to have a grasp of the basic Blackjack rules. Once you have an understanding of the Blackjack rules read the articles on Blackjack basic strategy and advanced blackjack strategy to improve your game.

The objective of Blackjack is to beat the Dealer, this can be accomplished in two ways. You can beat the dealer's hand, meaning you come closer to 21 without going over, or the Dealer can go over 21, in other words bust. All hands that are 21 and under where you and the dealer have equal point totals are called pushes, a push means a tie and nobody wins.

Standard Blackjack rules stipulate that Blackjack is played with a standard deck of 52 cards, Blackjack games can be single-deck, double-deck, four-deck, six-deck and eight-deck. All cards in Blackjack are worth their face value, a two is a two, a three is a three a four is a four and so on. All picture or face cards are worth ten and the ace is worth either one or eleven.

With the exception of a Blackjack, that's an ace and a ten value card, and an automatic winner, hands with an ace as one of the first two cards are called soft hands because the initial total is flexible, the ace can have a value either of one or an eleven. Soft hands become hard hands when the ace must be used either as a one or an eleven, not both. For example, if you are dealt an ace and a 7 that would be a soft-18 worth either eight or 18. If you hit that hand with a 9 it would become a hard-17.

The Player has many choices to make, the Dealer has none. The Blackjack rules for the Dealer are quite simple, and they can not deviate from them. The Dealer must stand or not receive any cards on any total that is 17 or more, the Dealer must hit or receive a card on any hand that is 16 or less until they reach 17 or more or busts. The only area where the various casinos differ in their Blackjack rules is in the handling of a soft-17, the ace + 6. Some casinos require the Dealer to treat the soft-17 just like the hard-17 and stand, other casinos require the Dealer to hit a soft-17. How do you know which casinos are which, you'll read it right on the layout of the table. Standing on soft-17 is somewhat more favourable to the Player.

Utilising standard Blackjack rules the Player has many options, sometimes as many as seven, not all casinos offer each option.

Option 1 - You can draw a card, this is called taking a 'Hit'.

Option 2 - You can 'Stand' on your hand and not take a card.

Option 3 - You can 'Double-Down' on your first two cards by putting a second bet up that is equal to or less than your original bet. The Dealer will then give you one final card.

Option 4 - If you are dealt a pair you can 'Split' them by putting up another bet equal to your initial bet and you will receive a card on each of the split cards. You can then play each of these hands separately. If you receive another identical card some casinos offer the option of re-splitting. The only exception is when you split aces, you will only receive one card on each ace.

Option 5 - You may double-down after splitting, you do this by putting a bet of equal or less value than your initial bet and receiving only one more card, but not all casinos allow doubling-down after splits.

Option 6 - You may Insure against a Dealer up-card of an ace, casinos will allow you to put a bet of up to half your initial bet when the Dealer is showing an ace, this is called 'Insurance'. If a Dealer has Blackjack your initial bet is lost, but the Insurance bet is paid off at 2 to 1. In multiple deck games insurance is always a sucker bet because the house has a big edge over the basic strategy Player, insurance should therefore be ignored by the basic strategy Player. However, for card counters insurance is a good option in certain situations.

Option 7 - If you don't like your hand you simply choose to 'Surrender', you then give up half you bet and do not play out your hand. However, if a Dealer has Blackjack you lose your entire bet. Surrender is a good option when used correctly.

Now you have an understanding of the Blackjack rules, read our articles on Blackjack basic strategy and advanced blackjack strategy to maximise your online Blackjack experience.