Despite the hordes of convoluted articles with different strategies and tips, blackjack is a very straightforward game. The game uses a 52-card deck, and the aim is simple – beat the dealer.
So how do you beat the dealer?
Two Ways to Win
- One way to win is by beating the dealer’s hand, meaning your hand needs to be equal to or lower than 21, while also being closer to 21 than the dealer’s hand.
- The second way to win is when the dealer goes bust.
In blackjack, face cards (Jacks, Queens and Kings) all have the same value of 10, while all the number cards are equal to their normal number. Aces can count as either 11 or 1, depending on whether or not your hand exceeds 21, which adds an extra level of intricacy to the game.
Playing the Game
Each round starts with each participant being dealt a card, starting with the player on the dealer’s left. The dealer will then take their first card and place it face down on the table. This card, the “hole card”, remains face down until the end of the game.
Next, a second round of cards is dealt to all the participants, including the dealer. The dealer’s second card will remain face up to give the players something to estimate from.
Before moving on, players have a few other options they may take immediately after being dealt their hand:
- Surrender – You can choose to surrender the round and lose half your bet.
- Double – You can choose to double your original bet after being dealt your hand. You’ll receive one card, and should it bring your total above 21 you’ll go bust. If not, then you’re forced to stand.
- Splitting – If your hand includes two of the same card, you can choose to split your hand into two separate hands and place another wager (usually equal to your original wager) on the second hand.
If you haven’t surrendered, doubled or split, then your hand is in play. You two options:
- Hit – Take another card. So long as your hand does not exceed 21, you can keep hitting until you’re satisfied with your total.
- Stand – Standing is a definitive decision not to take any more cards.
The dealer’s hand is played at the end of the game and they can only hit or stand. The dealer is usually forced to hit until their hand totals at least 17.
If the dealer’s hand exceeds 21, all participants (that are still in play) win the round and receive even money back. If the dealer hasn’t bust, then each player whose total is closer to 21 than the dealer’s is paid out. Each player with a lower total than the dealer loses the bet. In the case of a tie, the player keeps their bet to either leave on the table for the next round or take home.
Though there is certainly more to learn, we hope this super quick guide has helped you get started with blackjack!