How to Play
- The dealer starts the game, and every player gets two cards, face up.
- The dealer gets two cards, but one card is face up and the other face down, known as the “hole” card.
- Only after all players’ hands are played does the dealer expose the “hole” card and play the hand.
Stand or Hit? Once you have your two cards, you can choose to “stand” (draw no more cards), or take a “hit”, that is drawing additional cards one at a time until reaching or getting as close to 21 as possible.
However, if you go over 21, you “break” and automatically lose. A winning hand pays even money, meaning you are paid the same amount you wagered. If you bet 500 coins, you are paid 500. You may also double-down or split pairs.
Dealer’s Turn: When the dealer turns over the “hole” card the next actions are determined by the rules of the game. The dealer must draw to 16 and “stand” when 17 or more is reached. The dealer will hit a soft 17 – a soft total is one that cannot “break” if one more card is taken like a 17, comprised of an Ace and a 6.
At the end of the game, if your count is the same as the dealer’s, it is a “push”— neither you nor the dealer win. If the player count is greater than the dealer’s but does not exceed 21, or the dealer’s count exceeds 21, the player wins.
What if You Hit Blackjack Right Away? If your first two cards are an Ace plus any ten value card, the dealer announces your hand as Blackjack.
You will be paid at this time if the dealer does not have an Ace or ten value card as an up card. However, if the dealer’s up card is an Ace or a ten value card, you will not be paid until the dealer checks his hand. If the dealer’s hand is Blackjack, it is a push (tie). A player’s winning Blackjack is typically paid off at odds of 3 to 2 or 6 to 5.
When to split? Two identically ranked initial cards are called a pair. If you are dealt a pair, you may choose to split them into separate hands. You can then ask for a new second card for each hand, but you must place a full initial bet that matches your original wager on the single hand.
You now have two chances to beat the dealer—or two chances to lose. After the split, you are dealt two more cards, one for each hand. Play then proceeds, with you playing both hands.
Why am I always supposed to split Aces and 8s in Blackjack? The aces are easy—you will have two chances to get 21. An Ace is the most powerful card in Blackjack. Any card drawn next that is valued at 10 gives you 21.
The deck has more 10-value cards than any other single value—10s, Jacks, Queens, and Kings all count as 10. So, you combine an Ace with the higher probability of drawing a 10-value card, thus increasing your chances of beating the dealer and winning.
With 8s, mathematical analysis shows that splitting them loses less often over the long run than any other move you could make. Still a tough hand though.
When to Double Down? If you are dealt two original cards, you can decide to double your initial bet in return for a single card. However, your typical option to “hit” or “stay” is now gone. As always, you want to either hit a hand that beats the dealer, or see the dealer bust. Doubling your bet adds risk. As a general rule, only double down when your hand’s combined value is 11 or lower. That way, no matter what card you’re dealt, you won’t go over 21, or “bust”.
What is Insurance? If the dealer’s up card is an ace, you may place a side bet known as “insurance”. The level of your bet is allowed to be half of your original wager. Should the dealer draw second card ten, jack, queen, or king, the dealer will have blackjack (21) and the pay-out for your insurance bet is 2-1. Insurance offers a chance to win back some of your first bet when the dealer hits blackjack. Taking an insurance bet adds risk, so be careful when placing it, as it can eat into your bankroll.