After the initial cards are dealt, you’re laying a hard ten with a pair of fives. The dealer shows an eight. Do you split? Do you double down? Do you hit or stand?
Does any of this make sense to you?
Fear not — this guide will teach you how to play blackjack at a casino. We’ll provide a step-by-step guide on how each hand works, go over different terminology and basic strategy, and help you play the game with some of the most favorable odds to turn your original bet into a real money payout. For a more in-depth strategy for blackjack, for example, knowing when to double down, our resource center can help so that you are able to walk into any casino confident and ready to win.
How To Play Blackjack: The Basics
Before we go over a step-by-step rundown of how a hand of blackjack works, let’s cover the absolute basics. In this popular card game, you must understand the dealer’s hand. You always play Blackjack against the dealer.
How do you do that? In Blackjack, you race to 21. To start, the dealer deals two cards to everyone. You can then choose to hit (get more cards) or stand (stop where you are). Aim to get as close to 21 as possible without going over or busting.
After dealing all the cards, a blackjack player will experience one of five things.
Of course, as with most casino games, once you add in betting, things get a little more complicated (we’ll cover that in a bit). First, you need to know what the value of each card is:
2 through 10
The number on the card itself determines the value of these cards. So if you’re dealt a 3 and an 8, the value of your hand is 3 + 8 = 11.
Jack, Queen, King
Each royal card holds a value of ten. So if you have a Jack and a 4, your hand’s total is 10(J) + 4 = 14. Likewise, if it’s a 4 and a King it’s 4 + 10(K) = 14. It doesn’t matter which royal is on the face card, they’re all worth 10.
You get options if you are dealt an Ace. Aces count as either 1 or 11. So, if you have an Ace and a 6, your hand is worth either 1(A) + 6 = 7 or 11(A) + 6 = 17.
Hard vs. soft hands
One other thing when discussing the value of a separate hand is hard vs. soft value. This simply refers to whether an Ace is involved, therefore meaning the value can change. For instance, a 7 and an 8 is a hard 15 because there’s nothing else it can be. However, an Ace and a 4 is a soft 15. That’s because while it is worth 15, it can also be changed to be worth 5 by switching how you use your Ace.
You use hard vs. soft distinctions when you delve deeper into blackjack strategy.
While the goal of the blackjack game is to get to 21, the term blackjack refers to a hand that equals 21 after only the first two cards have been dealt. You have a blackjack if you are dealt an Ace and any card worth 10 (10, J, Q, or K), which receives a higher real money payout.
That’s it. Suits do not matter in blackjack, it is only the card value that matters.
Playing A Hand: Step-By-Step
Now that you know what each card is worth and the general objective, let’s look at how a typical blackjack hand will be played.
Step 1: Place Your Bets
Before dealing the cards, you place your original bet. There will be a minimum you have to bet to be a part of the live blackjack hand. There will also be a maximum you can bet. These minimum and maximum limits will be determined by the casino and can vary table-to-table.
How much you bet will affect your eventual payout as follows:
- If you win – In most cases, a win will gain you 1:1 odds. That means if your initial bet was $10 and you beat the dealer, you’ll win $10.
- If you lose – If the dealer beats you, they take your initial bet. So, in the case above, they would take your $10.
- If you tie – You may have heard people say that the dealer wins in the event of a tie. That isn’t true. In most casinos, a tie is considered a push. No one wins and you get your initial bet back.
- If you blackjack – As mentioned earlier, winning with a blackjack, or without an additional card being dealt, normally changes your payout. The standard is for a blackjack to payout with 3:2 odds (though that can vary based on the casino you’re in). That means your $10 bet would result in you winning $15.
There are a few other betting options that we’ll go over later, but these are the basic results you can expect.
Step 2: Deal the Cards
The dealer places bets and then deals a card to everyone. Every player is dealt two cards face down. Then, the dealer deals themself two cards. One is face up and the other is face down. As the game progresses, the dealer places each additional card face up.
The dealer shows only one card. In a casino game like blackjack, the dealer adds to the suspense by keeping their hole card hidden. However, while you only know half of the dealer’s hand, that one card can have a big effect on how you decide to play the game.
Step 3: Hit or Stand
Once the initial cards are dealt, every player gets to play. Remember, you are only playing against the dealer. When it is your turn, you can choose to hit (get another card) or stand (keep the cards you have with no additions). If you choose to hit and go above 21, you’ve busted. You automatically lose the hand, regardless of what the dealer does. Be mindful of the hand total as you decide to hit or stand.
Step 4: The Dealer’s Turn
After every player has finished, the dealer takes their turn. In a Nevada Deal, the dealer overturns the facedown card. In a London deal, the dealer deals a second card to themselves. Then, the dealer follows a few rules:
Step 5: Determine the Winners
Assuming you didn’t bust during your turn (and the dealer didn’t bust during their turn), the dealer compares hand values to determine the winners. If you’re closer to 21 than the dealer, you win. That’s it. That’s how you play blackjack.
Except that isn’t actually it. While blackjack can be that simple, there are a few basic blackjack strategy options available to you that can help you win more money (or lose less). Those options include:
Maybe you get your first two cards and you just aren’t feeling it. Maybe the dealer’s showing an Ace or a 10, and your total is something like 16. They probably have you beat, and if you hit, there’s a good chance you’ll bust. You can surrender the table game. This means you can reclaim half of your initial bet, the other half will be lost to the casino.
If your first two cards are a pair, you can split them and play them as two separate hands. Your initial bet counts for one of the hands, and you have to place the same amount on your second hand. Then each hand is played separately at the same blackjack table. You have two chances to win now…but also two chances to lose. Also, some casinos allow you to split any cards with a value of 10 (so you could split a K and J). Others will require it to be a true pair.
Splitting Aces works much in the same way as splitting any other cards but with a couple of important distinctions. When you split Aces, both will then be counted as 11. You will then get dealt one card to each Ace, and that’s it, you can’t hit again. Also, if you get a card worth 10 on either Ace, it now pays as a simple win as opposed to paying blackjack odds.
If you like your initial two cards a lot, you can double down. That means you can increase your initial bet by as much as double (some casinos will only allow you to truly double the bet, others will let you add as much as you want up to a doubling amount). If you’re feeling confident, this can mean a big win.
All the initial cards are down, and the dealer shows an Ace. Uh oh. With all the cards that are worth 10, there’s a decent chance the dealer already has a blackjack. You can make an insurance bet if the dealer shows an Ace, betting that the dealer has a blackjack. This bet is separate from the main action and pays 2:1.So, if you make a $10 insurance bet and the dealer does have a blackjack, you win $20. However, you also still lose your initial bet (unless you also have a blackjack, then it’s a push). These bets can be used to hedge against a loss, but beware of overusing them. They tend not to pay off in the long run.
Blackjack Switch is another exciting variation where players juggle two hands.
Blackjack Etiquette and Best Practices
While mastering the rules and strategies of blackjack is essential, understanding the etiquette and best practices of the game is equally important, especially in live environments like Las Vegas casinos or even at online blackjack tables.
Respecting the Dealer and Fellow Players
Whether you’re at a blackjack table in a bustling casino or playing live blackjack online, respecting the dealer and your fellow players is paramount. This includes following the game’s pace, not berating others for their play, and graciously accepting wins and losses. Remember, the dealer manages the game, not the outcome.
Understanding Hand Signals in Casino Blackjack
In a physical casino, players must use proper hand signals for ‘hit’ and ‘stand’. For example, a simple tap on the table indicates a hit, while waving your hand horizontally over your cards signals a stand. These hand signals ensure clear communication with the dealer and can vary slightly between classic blackjack and other variations like European Blackjack.
Managing Your Chips and Bets
Handling your chips correctly is a part of good blackjack etiquette. Place your original bet in the designated area and avoid touching the chips once the game begins. In scenarios where you decide to double down or split, place the additional chips next to the original bet, not on top of it.
Avoiding Card Counting
While card counting is a famous strategy in blackjack, casinos frown upon card counting and it’s virtually ineffective in online blackjack due to constant deck shuffling. In online casino settings, focus on your strategy and gameplay rather than attempting to count cards.
Adherence to Table Rules and Limits
Each blackjack game comes with its own set of rules and betting limits. Whether playing online blackjack, Blackjack Switch, or a real money game, understanding and adhering to these limits is important. Players know the minimum and maximum bets and any specific table rules like those for splitting or insurance bets.
Courtesy in Online Play
In online blackjack, maintaining courtesy is still important, even if the interaction with the dealer might be limited. This includes not taking excessive time to make your moves and being respectful in any chat functions.
Learning Through Observation
Especially for new players, observing more experienced players can be incredibly educational. Watching how others handle their hands, their betting strategies, and even their interactions can provide valuable insights. This is applicable in both live settings and online casino games.
Avoiding ‘Going Bust’ Through Caution
One key aspect of blackjack strategy is knowing when to be conservative to avoid going bust. This doesn’t just apply to your hand’s value but also to your overall betting strategy and bankroll management.
You can ensure a more enjoyable and respectful gaming experience for yourself and others by understanding and adhering to these blackjack etiquettes and best practices. Whether you’re playing in a renowned Las Vegas casino, an Atlantic City establishment, or enjoying the convenience of an online blackjack game, these practices will stand you in good stead.
Place Your Bets At Tipico
There are plenty of strategies when it comes to blackjack. This guide can help you start playing and winning. And there’s no better place to play than at Tipico’s online casino. We have all your favorite casino games and, as an added bonus, check out Tipico Sportsbook to start placing bets on your favorite sports action.
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