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Blackjack Rules

Blackjack is a casino card game. To start playing, you need to learn the basics, how the game is played, and how it differs from other card games. Note that chip colors mentioned here are based on United States casinos. The rest of the rules are applicable worldwide.

Choosing a Table

When playing, it is important to choose the appropriate table to join. Be keen on some key details when approaching tables. First off, check the betting limit signs that indicate minimum and maximum bets allowed. Such signs are usually placed in visible portions of a table that one could hardly miss this information. Tables with lower minimum bets allowed like $3 or $5 are usually packed with players. Some casinos use color codes for these signs.

Second, check the number of cards being dealt per table. Beginners prefer “shoe” games making use of 6 or 8 decks. As one masters the game, he could move on to tables making use of fewer decks.

Buying Chips

Wait for a game session to finish before seating. Purchase chips for the dealer to start betting. Take note that to ensure fair play all the time, dealers are not allowed to hold your hand so do not hand him your cash. Place cash on the table instead and he will pick it up to exchange for playing chips. Chip colors are red for $5, green for $25, and black for $100. White is $1. Some casinos have pink chips for $2.50. Some also have $500 denominations in violet chips.

Players are not allowed to touch bets in the circle once the cards are being dealt already. As a general rule when stacking your chips for betting, place the largest denominations at the bottom and smaller value chips on top. After every hand, the dealer goes around paying winners and collecting chips from losers. After getting paid, a player could remove his chips and bet anew.

Cashing In

Winning chips can be exchanged for cash at the cashier. A large number of small denomination chips can be exchanged for bigger denominations from the dealer. An alternative to cashing in these chips is to move to another table to continue playing and trying your luck.

Basic Premise of Blackjack

The basic premise of blackjack is very simple. Players try to get a hand closest to the value of 21 without going over. The other players on the table do not matter so much because your hand is played against the hand of the dealer. Even if the other players peep at your hand, it will not affect the game. In fact, in a shoe game, the cards are dealt face up.

In blackjack, the ace could either be valued as 1 or 11. Cards 2 to 9 are valued as is. The face cards (Jack, Queen and King) are all valued at 10. Card 10 is taken at face value.

The suits are meaningless to blackjack. Hence, an ace of spade and an ace of heart are of equal value. In the game, the value of the hand is added up. A hand of 5, 7 and 9 will equal 21. If an ace shows up, it can either be used as 1 or 11. A player need not say if he is using his ace as a 1 or 11. It is immediately understood that his ace assumes the value that will make the best hand. 

For example, if a hand is composed of ace and a 6, this could either sum up to 7 or 17. If you refuse to draw another card, your final hand will be 17. But say you draw another card and you get 8. If the ace is used as 11, the sum will go over 21 and you lose. So without question, the ace will be used as 1 and the total of the hand will be 15. Another case in point here is that if you did not draw another card and stopped at 17, it would have been better. This is where strategy will come in to play.

Dealing Cards

A dealer starts to deal cards once all bets are in. He makes two passes of one card each starting on his left. Two passes will give each player two cards. The dealer will then expose one of his cards by flipping it up. 

In a shoe game, cards dealt will be facing up. Players could not touch their card hands until after dealing is finished. In hand-held games, cards are dealt facing down. Players pick up their cards after dealing. When playing a hand-held game, remember a few things. First, cards can be picked up with only one hand. Poker players might have a difficult time breaking their habits if they play blackjack. Second, cards must be kept on the table where it is visible to the dealer. And third, if a player decides to draw a third card, it must not be added to current hand. Instead, the third card should be separated and placed on the left of the table.

Player’s Choices


When a player surrenders, it means he is folding. He could not play for the pot. Folding usually costs half of the original bet. A decision to surrender must be made before deciding to draw a third card. If a third card is already played, surrendering cannot be an option anymore.

There is an early surrender and late surrender. In early surrender, a player decides to fold before the dealer checks his hand. This will be a less costly route for a player who is not very risky. However, early surrender is not commonly offered in many blackjack casinos. In late surrender, a dealer first checks his own hand. If his hand is not a blackjack (21), he gives players an option to surrender or fold.


Another choice for players is to hit or stand. A player hits when he draws another card. He stands if he decides to stop and settle for the current value of his hand. There are hand signals to indicate if a player wants to hit or stand. This depends per casino but in general, tapping the table with a finger means a player decides to hit or draw a third card. To stand or stop, the general signal is to wave hand horizontally over one’s cards. If the hand played is over 21, this is called a bust. The dealer will collect the bet and remove the cards immediately.

Doubling Down

Doubling down is only an option for players who settled for two cards and before a third card is drawn. In this choice, a bet can be doubled and be given an additional card. Doubling down is common to the more expert players and is definitely a profitable option if they win. Take advantage of this player’s option if the odds of winning a hand are greatly tipped in your favor.

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