Blackjack Rules

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Seemingly complicated to the uninitiated, blackjack (or 21) is a simple game with a simple set of rules. Blackjack uses a standard set of 52 playing cards and players compete against the dealer, not each other. The suits are ignored in this game, only the numerical values of the cards is important.

Valuation table for blackjack:

King, Queen, Jack, 10 = 10
2-9 = Face value
Aces = 11 or 1
The player wins when the total value of cards in his hand is closer to 21 than those held by the dealer. The player wins one and a half times his bet if his first two cards total 21--a natural Blackjack.

Blackjack Play

Each player, including the dealer is dealt two cards. In most variations the dealer has one card up and one card down (the hole card).

If any player is dealt an Ace and a face card or a ten he has 21 -- a natural Blackjack. Most casinos pay 1.5 times your bet. A player with blackjack turns his cards in immediately for payment.

Most of the time players are not dealt ace-face combinations. All other two card combinations add up to less than 21. This is where the player exercises his own form of blackjack strategy. After the first two cards, and aware of the dealer's up card, the player gets to decide whether he will take another card (hit) or play with the cards he has (stand). If he stands, he plays with those cards for the rest of the hand. If he hits he can continue to hit until he prefers to stand OR if he goes over a total of 21.

Each player, from left-to-right, has a chance to 'hit' or 'stand' before play proceeds to the next playr. After dealing hands to all the players, the dealer turns his hole card face up. If the dealer's cards total 16 or less, the dealer must draw. If the total is 17 or more, the dealer must stand. That's it.

There are many nuances of play and variations practiced by various casinos but these are the essential blackjack rules. To help you further understand the game we have included the following glossary of blackjack terms.

Blackjack Rules Glossary

BLACKJACK: A hand consisting of an Ace and a 10-value card (10, Jack, Queen or King) totalling 21. Pays 3-2.

BROKE or BUST: Going over '21' with additional cards drawn to the original hand.

HARD TOTAL: A hand with no Aces or where the Ace is counted as '1.' For example, a nine-eight combination counts as a hard '17'.

HIT or DRAW: Adding a card to your hand in an effort to come closer to 21, without going over.

INSURANCE: When the dealer shows an Ace as the upcard, you can bet up to one-half the amount of your original wager that the dealer has a Blackjack. Insurance pays 2-1 if the dealer does, in fact, have blackjack. If he doesn't, the house collects the insurance bet.

NATURAL: A Blackjack dealt with the original two cards. An ace and a face card.

PUSH: Player and dealer tie. The money bet is retained by the player.

SOFT TOTAL: A hand with an Ace that counts as an '11'. For example, an Ace-8 combination counts as a soft '19.

STAND: The player doesn't want any more cards and so 'stands' with the cards he has.

STIFF: A hand that could go bust by adding one more card. For example any hard 12-16 combination is a stiff.

UPCARD: The face up card in the dealer's original hand.


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Blackjack rules