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Blackjack rules
 

Blackjack has amassed such a huge following in part because of the level playing field with the house. If you know how to play, you have a huge chance of winning. You can cut the edge enjoyed by the house simply by understanding the game. Online blackjack is played with one or two standard decks, while shoe games are played with as many as six. Tables may seat up to seven people, though typically five or six is the norm. However, only one player and a dealer are required to play. Regardless of how many decks and players are in use, the basic rules of blackjack remain the same. Each player begins by wagering a certain amount.

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The dealer includes himself in the deal. Two cards are dealt to everyone at the table, with one card dealt face-up and one dealt face-down. Each player looks at the face-down card but doesn't share it with others. The goal is to get the highest hand total without exceeding 21. Number cards are worth their numbers, court cards are worth 10 and aces are worth either 1 or 11, depending on what you want to do with them.

If your initial hand is valued at 21 (a 10 or court card plus an ace), you automatically receive 3 to 2 payment for your wager. For all other hands, your options are to stand, hit, split, double down, surrender or take insurance.

Hit
Receive an additional card. This card is visible to everyone at the table and adds to your hand value. Used when you have a small hand total.

Stand

Take no extra cards. The value of your hand remains constant. Used when you have a large hand total.

Double Down
Like Hit, but double your wager at the same time as you receive an additional card.

Split
When you are dealt a pair, you may choose to split your hand into two separate hands to have an increased chance of winning. Each hand is accompanied by a bet equal to your initial wager, and each hand offers the opportunity to hit or stand. Some pairs are better to split than others.

Surrender
If you feel that there is no chance of winning, some online blackjack casinos give you the option of surrendering. You forfeit half your pot but get half of it back, which is better than losing it all.

Take Insurance
If you think the dealer has a natural 21 (meaning he was dealt 21 from the initial deal), some blackjack games offer the choice to take insurance by putting an initial amount into the pot. You lose all of it if you're wrong, but you may avoid losing anything if you're right.


Winning at blackjack consists of knowing what to do when. The dealer is generally automated and only follows house rules regarding when to hit and when to stand. Players must make choices based on what they have and what the dealer is showing.

Blackjack enthusiasts make use of basic strategy, which consists of guidelines mathematically proven to provide the maximum opportunity for success. Depending on your hand, only one action offers the best chances. Professionals and veteran blackjack players have strategy charts that say what to do in the event of any given game situation. Keep in mind that strategy differs depending on the variant of blackjack you are playing as well as how many decks you're playing with.

Variants on Blackjack

These rules apply to most variants of blackjack. However, each variant has its own rules, and it is important to learn how to play all of them if you want to see the most success. Visit our Blackjack Variations section to learn more about the different rules.

 
 
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