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Rules for Blackjack

From what started as a fun, 18th-century card game in French casinos to becoming one of the most widely-played tables at online casinos, blackjack is a game that is rich in history and entertainment. It has been a staple at many casinos for as long as anyone can remember, but it’s pretty safe to say that the blackjack game we know today greatly contrasts the game that once headlined land-based casinos in Las Vegas. 

This card game is a whole lot more complex than what it once was as modern tables rock additional rules, all-new gameplay, fascinating side bets and a tonne of bonuses. Blackjack players can spot all kinds of blackjack variants from many talented providers that they wouldn’t be able to find at land-based casinos. 

If you’re about to hop onto the online blackjack train, we’ll help guide you through general blackjack gameplay and give you the full rundown of the rules of blackjack, so you’ll be able to set off on this journey in the best way possible. And before you ask why WE should be your guiding light throughout this whole process, well, who better to come along on this adventure with you than one of the best online casinos in the iGaming sphere?


Understanding blackjack rules is key to building an unwavering foundation for when you actually play this casino game. But, familiarising yourself with the rules is one of the many stepping stones you must take to become a crackerjack at blackjack. One of those stepping stones also includes understanding how it all started, so let’s crack down on the origins of blackjack:

It is said that blackjack originated from a historic card game played in France and Spain, called ‘Vingt-un‘ or ‘Vingt-et-un‘, translating to ’21’. Other blackjack predecessors also include games like the French game ‘Quinze’ (‘Fifteen’) and the Italian game ‘Sette e Mezzo’ (‘Seven and a Half’), which actually predate Vingt-un. Blackjack’s oldest forefather, though, as researched by Roger Baldwin and Arnoldy Snyder, is probably the Spanish game ‘Trente-un‘ (‘Thirty One’).

Each game features valued cards with the goal of drawing as close to a specific number as possible without busting, so you can see where the modern game of blackjack shares its similarities. 

Vingt-un was very popular in Europe, but its popularity hit all-new heights when the game reached American soil. In 1820, the game was first spotted in licensed gambling houses in New Orleans. However, this version of blackjack still had varying rules that you won’t spot today. For example, during this time,  the rules dictated that the dealer could double down.

While Vingt-un boomed, casinos began to offer players an extra big payout when earning a hand featuring an ace of spades and a black jack. The term ‘Blackjack‘ quickly caught on, and the rest is history.

Blackjack did not stem from one game at one definite point in time. It evolved over centuries, developing many different rules and gameplay and continues to grow even today. 


Now that you’ve glimpsed the past let’s get straight to blackjack rules, starting with the overall objective of this casino game.


The most basic rule of blackjack is its principle objective: form a hand with a value that is as close to 21 as possible without surpassing it and beat the dealer. If you surpass 21, you’ll go bust, and your hand will automatically lose. 

If you form a hand with a value that amounts to 21 exactly (with an ace and a 10-value card), then you’ll receive an instant win. You will also instantly win your hand if the dealer busts. However, you’ll lose if the dealer’s cards amount to 21.

A hand featuring an ace and a 10-value card is referred to as blackjack or a natural. A natural win is not the most common hand in blackjack, especially when playing multi-deck games. 

In any typical game of blackjack, your objective will be to outscore the dealer’s hand and get as close to 21 as possible without going bust, though you’d be surprised how much harder it is to do this than you think.

For example, suppose you draw two cards that add up to a value of 15. This score is pretty far from 21, so you might be inclined to draw another card. However, you’d only be able to get blackjack if you draw a six. Any card with a value that is lower than six will risk you losing to the dealer. Similarly, you might end up in a situation where you stand too early and give the dealer’s hand the advantage. There may be a way out of this, though. 

More advanced blackjack players often utilise a playing strategy to help them make smarter decisions, especially when figuring out whether to hit, stand, double down or split. The basic strategy is one of the most popularised strategies out there as it is based on mathematics rather than trial and error. That said, there are many other systems you can make use of to help you decide on the best course of action.


Getting as close to 21 as possible and beating the dealer is the baseline objective, but there are a few other rules to keep in mind as you play. 

Depending on the blackjack table you play at, the blackjack rules may not always be the same. Many of the rules are affected by a number of factors, including the number of decks used, betting limits, etc. But, here are a few standard rules you’ll find at most casinos:

  • The dealer stands on soft 17 (a soft hand is a hand that holds an ace valued at 11).
  • Players are allowed to double down, split, hit or stand.
  • Players can only split when they have two cards of the same value, so the pair is split into two hands. 
  • Splitting pairs also doubles the initial bet. 
  • Doubling down doubles the original bet to draw one additional card.
  • Players can only split or double down when making their first move.
  • The dealer checks for blackjack. 
  • Players cannot split aces.


Of course, with every game of blackjack comes a certain amount of equipment. Different table and card games don’t always use the same equipment, and knowing what is used during a round can help you better understand the general gameplay. 

Blackjack is played with a standard deck of 52 cards (the jokers are removed). This game was once a single-deck game, but most casinos online also introduced double-deck games or even multi-deck tables using four or more decks.

That said, while most casinos offer single-deck or double-deck tables, ‘shoe games’ are a lot more common.

On top of a deck of cards (single or otherwise), a game of blackjack requires a betting table, betting chips, a discard tray, a shoe and a cut card.

When playing a single-deck game at land-based casinos, a player may be asked to cut the deck by inserting the cut card into the stack. The dealer will then move the cards above the cut card to the back of the stack. Cutting the deck is often used as a way to demonstrate that the game cannot be rigged by the house. 

In cases where multiple decks are used (like in a six-deck game, for example), the dealer will shuffle the cards and place them into a dispenser referred to as a ‘shoe’. The shoe is a piece of equipment that is used to hold large stacks of cards. You’ll most likely spot this particular piece of equipment in Live Casinos.


So where do all of these rules fit in the actual gameplay? Allow us to breakdown the order of play in a typical round of blackjack: 


The order of play varies a little depending on whether you’re playing blackjack online or the land-based casino version of blackjack. 

If you’re playing a land-based blackjack game, the round will begin with the dealer shuffling the deck. A player will then be chosen to cut the deck, and the cut card will be reinserted to indicate which cards need to be reshuffled. The rest of the cards will be placed back in the shoe. Players will be able to place their bets in the betting circle or betting box once the cards have been shuffled. 

If you’re playing online blackjack games, you’ll be taking a seat at a virtual table and greeted by a live dealer. Bear in mind that since live tables are streamed 24/7, you may enter a game in the middle of the round. In this case, simply wait for the round to finish and begin betting once indicated.

To bet, players will find a number of different-coloured betting chips on the user interface, with each chip holding a different value. Players will be required to place their bets within a specific time frame (unless they are playing first-person blackjack, which does not have a limited betting time). The minimum and maximum bet value will depend on the table you play at, as some tables offer larger bet amounts than others. 


Once the betting time has expired, the dealer deals two cards, face up, to each player. The dealer will also take two cards, dealt face-down and face up. The dealer’s face-down card is also referred to as a hole card. 

Some rules dictate that the dealer’s face-up card is dealt at the beginning of the round, and the face-down card is dealt once all players have acted, which is when the dealer checks for blackjack.


Once all cards have been dealt, the next step is deciding whether to hit, stand, double down or split. Some tables also allow you to surrender, place an insurance bet or a side bet. This is where card value knowledge really comes into play and where utilising the basic strategy comes in handy. 

As we’ve mentioned, the basic strategy is a mathematical set of decisions that will tell you how to act. If you’re a basic strategy player betting at a Live Casino, you will have a limited time frame to decide what to do, so keeping a few basic strategy charts within reach will be particularly helpful.  

Bear in mind that a basic strategy, or any playing strategy for that matter, doesn’t help you beat blackjack. The basic strategy is often regarded as one of the best strategies a player can adopt, no matter their level of knowledge, but it cannot guarantee a win due to the house edge.

Your choices may vary depending on the table you play at, so be sure to read through the rules before you bet, as you might end up rendering your basic strategy charts useless. 

Other than the standard options, placing a side bet is a great way to take your gaming to the next level — if you’re playing at a table that offers blackjack side bets, that is, as not all casinos do, especially land-based ones.

The dealer plays once all players have acted.


Once you’ve decided how to act and finalised your blackjack hand, it will be the dealer’s turn to act. The dealer takes action according to the house rules, which is when one of a few things may happen:

  1. The player’s hand loses by having a lower value than the dealer’s hand.
  2. The player busts. 
  3. The player earns blackjack. 
  4. The player gets closer to 21 than the dealer. 
  5. The dealer’s hand surpasses 21 and goes bust.
  6. The dealer has a blackjack hand, and the player loses.
  7. Both the player and the dealer form hands of equal value. In this case, the player’s bet will push (returned).

Once all hands are resolved, the dealer pays out all winning bets. All cards will then be returned, and the round will begin again.


Although table etiquette varies depending on whether you’re playing online or at a land-based casino, having good table etiquette ensures that you’ll have a good time playing even when you’re not totally sure what you’re doing. Here are a few tips when playing at a land-based blackjack hall

  • Wait for a new round before joining a table.
  • Always keep your hands visible above the table.
  • Don’t place any objects on the blackjack table. 
  • Never hand money directly to the dealer. Place the money in the area outside the designated betting section. 
  • Don’t touch your bets after the dealer deals the cards.
  • Use the necessary hand signal when taking action.
  • Ask other players for permission before joining a blackjack table. 
  • Refrain from telling players how they should play. 
  • Be respectful towards the dealer and other players.


Once all cards have been dealt, the next step is deciding how to act. There are a variety of possible actions you can take, including splitting your hand into two separate ones, doubling down, hitting and drawing another card or standing and remaining with your current hand. Whichever action you decide to take depends on a few factors, especially when using the basic strategy. Here’s a quick breakdown: 


Hitting implies drawing an additional card to increase the value of your hand. There is no limit to how many cards players can draw, but with every hit, the riskier the action becomes — remember, players lose instantly if their hand value surpasses 21.

The basic strategy lists several recommendations on when and when not to hit. Here are a few of them:

  • Players should hit when their hand value is 10 short of 21
  • Hit a split pair.
  • Only hit a hand value between 12 and 16 when the dealer has a seven-value card or more. 
  • Always hit a hard 12 if the dealer’s face-up card is a two or three.
  • Always hit an eight.
  • Hit a soft 18 against a dealer’s nine, 10 or ace dealt face up.


A decision to stand is generally taken when your hand value is already quite high and close to 21. Basic strategy charts recommend standing on a number of occasions, including:

  • With a pair of nines if the dealer’s hand shows a seven.
  • On a hard 12 when the dealer is showing a four, five or six, otherwise hit.
  • On a hard 13, 14, 15, and 16 against a dealer’s two – six, otherwise hit.
  • On 17 or greater (the only exception being when you have a soft 17).
  • On soft 18 if the dealer if the dealer does not hold a nine, 10 or ace, otherwise hit.
  • On soft 19 or greater.


Generally, players choose to double down when their hand value is very advantageous. It involves placing an additional wager equal to the original bet and receiving only one additional card. Players cannot double down after drawing cards, and they may not be able to double down after splitting (depending on the casino rules). The basic strategy recommends doubling down:

  • On a hard 11.
  • On a 10 when the dealer’s face-up card is nine or less.
  • On a hard 11 against the dealer’s ace if the dealer must hit a soft 17.
  • On a soft 19 against a dealer’s six if the dealer must hit a soft 17.
  • On a soft 18 against the dealer’s two if the dealer must hit a soft 17.
  • On A-2 through A-7 against the dealer’s five or six.
  • On eight when the dealer is showing a five or six in a single-deck game. 
  • On a hard nine, if the dealer shows a three, four, five or six.
  • On a soft 13 or 14 against a dealer’s five or six.


Splitting in blackjack occurs when a hand is divided into two separate hands when a pair of identical cards are drawn. Like doubling down, splitting also requires placing an additional bet equal to your original bet, placing wagers of the same value on both hands. Basic strategy charts recommend splitting on:

  • A pair of aces and eights.
  • On a pair of twos and threes when the dealer is showing a four, five, six or seven.

In cases where the blackjack table allows you to double down after a split, the basic strategy may vary slightly:

  • Split twos and threes when the dealer is showing a two or three.
  • Split sixes against dealer’s two.
  • Split fours against the dealer’s two. 


Surrendering involves withdrawing from a game if you think your hand will lose. Surrendering is only possible once the first two cards have been dealt), and if you choose to surrender, half of your original bet will be returned. Strategy charts often do not include the surrender rule, as it is not so commonly offered, and in most cases, you can always simply hit to potentially improve your hand’s value.


Taking an insurance bet basically implies that you’ll be betting on the dealer hitting blackjack. And while this wager may seem compelling, it can ultimately increase the house edge and slice your chances of winning. Even if you have blackjack, you will only win your original bet.

Like the surrender option, insurance bets are not wagers you’ll come across all that often. But, in cases where placing an insurance bet is possible, you’d be able to place this wager when the dealer shows a face-up ace and possibly has a face-down 10-value card. 

An insurance wager does not directly affect the game’s outcome, but some players may find comfort in placing this bet to act as a kind of ‘safety net’. Strategy charts generally advise against betting on insurance, as the possibility of the dealer winning blackjack a 10-value card is low.


Side bets are additional wagers commonly found at online blackjack tables. They’re totally optional and are separate from the standard gameplay but are used as a way to enhance your gaming experience and may potentially award an extra hefty payout on top of base game wins. Here are a few side wagers you may find:

  • Royal Match — Pays 5:2 for any suited cards in player blackjack hands and 25:1 for suited king and queen.
  • Over/ Under 13 — Pays even money when correctly predicting the sum of the player’s cards as less than or greater than 13. 
  • Super Sevens/ Crazy Sevens/ Lucky Sevens — Pays out if one or more sevens form part of the player’s hand. One seven pays 3:1, and the payout increases if more sevens are drawn. Two unsuited sevens pays 50:1; two suited sevens pays 100:1, etc.
  • Lucky Ladies — Pays out if the player’s hand value adds up to 20. An unsuited 20 pays 4:1, a suited 20 pays 10:1, and a matched 20 with the same rank and suit pays 25:1. The payout may increase if the hand is built out of specific cards as well (as specified by the game rules).
  • Perfect Pairs — Pays out when players are dealt a two-of-a-kind:
    • A mixed pair (two cards of the same value but with different colours) pays 5:1.
    • A coloured pair (two cards of the same colour and value but with a different suit) pays out 12:1.
    • A perfect pair (two cards of the same colour and suit) pays out 25:1.
  • 21+3 — Pays out when the player’s two cards and the dealer’s upcard form specific combinations. The house edge on this wager may vary depending on the number of decks used.
    • A flush (all suited cards) pays 5:1.
    • A straight (all cards are consecutive) pays 10:1.
    • A three-of-a-kind (cards not of the same suit) pays 30:1.
    • A straight flush (all cards are consecutive with the same suit) pays 40:1.
    • A suited triple (three of the same cards) pays 100:1.
  • Rummy — Also involves the player’s first two cards and the dealer’s upcard and requires players to form either a three-of-a-kind, a flush or a straight. It is very similar to the 21+3 bet, but rummy offers a lower house edge and smaller payouts.


Out of all the blackjack tips we can give you, understanding the importance of card values is probably the most crucial one. Obviously, your hand is built out of cards and the total value of your hand is dependent on the sum value of the cards that built it. 

Your total hand value indicates whether you should hit and draw another card to increase the value, split your hand, double down or stand at your current value. Here’s how to calculate your hand value:

Cards ranging from two to 10 are taken at face value, which implies that the number of the card indicates the value of that card. The jack, queen and king, otherwise referred to as face cards, are 10-value cards. The ace is the one card that has two different values, as it can either have a value of one or a value of 11, depending on the state of your hand. 

Aces count as 11-value cards until your hand’s value surpasses 21, at which point the ace’s value becomes one.


Now we’re sure you’re wondering WHY you should learn how each card is valued. Well, this might actually be the key to potentially winning at blackjack. 

Think of it this way. Suppose you have a hand with a value that adds to 15. This value is not super far from 21, but it may be far enough to be beaten by the dealer’s hand if you stand. If you choose to hit, though, you may risk earning a hand value that surpasses 21, and your hand will immediately lose. 

The value of your hand is the key determining factor of whether you decide to hit, stand, double down or split.


If bonuses and side wagers vary according to the table, do the game rules vary too? Yes. 

Different blackjack games may come with a different set of rules that will ultimately affect how you play the game. Selecting the best table really depends on what you’re after and what you prioritise, so be sure to check out the betting limits, the outcome of a tie, how each wager pays out, and whether the table offers the option to surrender.

You’ll always find the rules explained in detail, but to save you through the endless scrolling, allow us to break some of the most common rules down:


The Six Card Charlie rule is probably one you’ll hear quite a lot. This rule suggests that when the player has a total of six cards that amount to 21 or less, their hand will automatically win even if the dealer has blackjack. What’s even better is that, if the player decides to split their hand, the Six Card Charlie rule is applied to both pairs. 


‘DAS’ allows players to double down on a hand they split. Doubling after splitting is not always possible, however, as this rule is very advantageous to the player since it lowers the house edge.


Re-splitting aces allows players to separate aces after already splitting a pair. So, if players split a pair of aces and then receive another ace, they are allowed to split it into a third hand and even possibly a fourth one. This drastically reduces the house edge as the ace is one of the most powerful cards in blackjack. Like many other casino rules on this list, however, it is not one that is so easy to come by.


The standard blackjack payout awarded by casinos is 3:2. However, some casinos award a payout with 6:5 payout odds. Doing so puts the player at a disadvantage as it boosts the hose edge. That said, this also prevents players from utilising a card counting system. 


This style of play suggests that one card is drawn face up (eliminating the dealer’s hole card), and the dealer’s second card is drawn once players acted. 


The Reno Rule suggests that players can only double down on a hard nine, 10 or 11. 


The Early Surrender rule suggests that players will be able to surrender before the dealer checks for blackjack or offers insurance. However, this rule is no longer in play and is considered a dead rule as it hasn’t been part of the casino rules since the 70s. This is because it was very advantageous to the player — so advantageous in fact that it almost gave players a small edge on the house even without the help of a card counting system. It’s safe to say that you won’t find this rule anywhere online.


The Late Surrender rule allows players to surrender after the croupier checks for blackjack. If the dealer has a blackjack hand, however, they’ll lose. If not, half of a player’s bet is saved.


Deck/shoe penetration refers to the percentage of cards that are actually dealt over the course of a shoe. Land-based games generally insert a cut card in the shoe, which, once the cut card is dealt, tells the dealer that the shoe is running out of cards, requiring the dealer to shuffle the cards and start a new shoe. The depth of penetration of the cut card limits profitability for a card counter. This rule becomes obsolete at casinos where card counting is forbidden.


CSM Blackjack refers to the continuous shuffling machines used instead of placing cards in a discard tray. The dealer will utilise these machines to continually shuffle all the used cards, so there will never be an end to the shoe. 


Now that we’ve delved into all the nitty-gritty details, broken down the gameplay, and given you a sneak peek at the different bonuses you might encounter, the only thing left to do is to put your knowledge into practice — and what better way to do so than by playing at an epic online casino?

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The goal of blackjack is simple: try and form a hand with a value that is as close to 21 as possible without surpassing it to try and win money. If your hand value does exceed 21, you’ll bust and lose the round. You also need to get closer to 21 than the dealer. So not only do you need to build a solid hand, but you also need to beat the dealer.

That said, you’ll also receive an automatic win if the dealer busted or if you received blackjack — a hand built with a 10-value card and an ace. If both you and the dealer form a hand with the same hand value, your original bet will push and be returned. The correct play will be listed under the game rules. Card counting is banned in online blackjack tables.

Card values are the key to building a solid hand. They help you decide whether you need to draw another card, split your hand, keep your current hand or withdraw from the round.

Cards ranging from two to 10 are taken at face value, which implies that the number of the card indicates the value of that card. The jack, queen and king, otherwise referred to as face cards, are 10-value cards. The ace is the one card that has two different values, as it can either have a value of one or a value of 11, depending on the state of your hand.

The equipment used in a standard game of blackjack depends on whether you play blackjack online or at land-based gambling houses. In any case, blackjack is played with a standard deck of 52 cards (the jokers are removed) — more decks are used in some cases. On top of a deck of cards, a game of blackjack requires a betting table, betting chips, a discard tray, a shoe and a cut card.

Your options may vary depending on the blackjack game you play. That said, the standard actions you can take include hitting and drawing another card, standing and remaining with the cards you have, splitting your hand into two separate hands, and doubling down and placing an additional wager that is equal to your original bet. Some games also allow you to surrender and withdraw from the round or place side bets or insurance bets, though these wagers may affect the house edge, so be careful about placing these.

Yes and no. Whether you play blackjack online or at land-based casinos, the base game rules are always the same. However, you may find an altered set of rules when playing blackjack online as providers have revolutionised traditional blackjack by including all-new bonuses. The house edge may also vary, so be sure to read through the rules before you play.