How to Play Blackjack


Blackjack is one of the most popular table games available at casinos around the world. Often referred to as ’21,’ Blackjack is also one of the most ‘fair’ ways a person can gamble – the odds at the tables are better than any other game in the house.

Like many card games, Blackjack is all about the numbers. The object is to reach a score of 21 (or be closest to 21 without going over) by using 2 or more cards.

The dealer begins by dealing everyone one card. The dealer’s first card – also known as the hole card – is dealt face down. Next, a second card is distributed face up. If the dealer gives you an ace and a face card, that’s called Blackjack – you’ve just won the game, and gotten a 2 to 1 payout on your bet. (The only time you are not paid for your Blackjack is if the dealer also has Blackjack, or you tie on some other number – in this instance, you and the dealer “push” with neither of you collecting winnings from the other, and the hand is over.)

“Hit” means you want another card. If you’re satisfied with your hand, you’ll “stay” on it.

Since learning by example is often the easiest method, let’s give an example of a hand of Blackjack.

The dealer gives you a ten (the number ten, or any face card; the Jack, Queen, and King all hold a value of ten in Blackjack) and a four; the dealer has a five showing. Common strategy with Blackjack is to always assume that the dealer has a ten in the hole – since ten is the most common card found in the deck. That means, the dealer now has a total of fourteen, and you have a total of fifteen. Because a ten is the most common card, if you get one, you will bust, and the dealer will win the hand. The safest route to take is to stay on your fifteen, and let the dealer take the ten – remember, the dealer has to hit on sixteen. When the dealer busts, you win!

If you have an eleven – an eight and a three, for instance – you should ‘double down’ your bet, which involves doubling the amount you first bet, in exchange for one more card. Naturally, we’re hoping the luck of the draw is with us, and the most common card in the deck – a ten – turns up.

A lot of Blackjack strategy involves looking at what the dealer has showing, and acting accordingly. Always assuming the dealer’s hole card is a ten is at least half the battle.

Here are some additional resources to help you learn more advanced strategies on how to play blackjack.