Blackjack is one of the most popular and simple casino games.
The object of the game is to have your cards total twenty-one or as near to twenty-one as possible without going over. Everyone plays against the dealer (the house) who begins the game by dealing each player two cards and the house one card face up and one card face down.
Cards are counted at their face value. Kings, Queens, and Jacks count as ten. Aces count as one or eleven. If the first two cards you are dealt total twenty-one, you have a blackjack. Blackjack pays one and a half times your bet. You cannot lose but you could tie if the dealer also has a blackjack.
If you are dealt any combination other than blackjack, you can either “stand” (take no more cards) or signal the dealer for a “hit” (draw additional cards). Remember, the objective is to reach twenty-one or as close to twenty-one as possible without going over. You also want your hand to be closer to twenty-one than the dealer’s hand. If your card count is closer to twenty-one than the dealer’s hand, you win—if it is less, the house wins. If you tie with the dealer, you “push” (nobody wins, and nobody loses).
If you should go over twenty-one (“bust”), you immediately lose. After each player takes their turn, the dealer turns up the house card face down card. If the dealer has sixteen or less, the house must “hit” (draw additional cards), until reaching seventeen or more. Dealer must stand on “soft” 17. A “soft 17” is a hand containing at least one Ace and can be counted as either seven or seventeen. If the dealer “busts”, the house must pay all the players still in the game.
Blackjack players have all the options, the house has none.
If you are dealt two cards with equal value, you have the option of “splitting” them into two separate hands. You must match your original bet if you “split”. You may “split” a pair up to three times making four separate hands). You can take as many “hits” as you like on each hand. If you “split” a pair of Aces, you will receive only one card on each of the hands, but if one of the “hit” cards is another Ace, you may “re-split” (making up to four separate hands).
Players also have the option of increasing their wager by “doubling down”. After receiving your first two cards, you may “double down” on any first two cards. You may also “double down” after “splitting” a pair.
If the dealer’s “up” card is an Ace, you have the option of making an “insurance” wager. You may wager any amount up to half your original wager that the dealer’s down card has a value of ten. If the card has a value other than ten, you lose and the dealer takes your insurance bet.
*Only applies to blackjack games dealt from a shoe.