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BlackJack has been played in the U.S. since the 1800s. This casino staple aged healthily for 100 years in French casinos before finding its way to the U.S. and winning the hearts of everyone from novices to high rollers. It’s still one of most popular card games on today’s casino circuit and in card clubs around the world.

The Goal of the Blacjack Game:

In this game the dealer is your only opponent. Your goal is to reach a card value that is closer to 21 than the dealer’s card value, without going over 21.

The Value of the Blackjack Cards:

Numbered cards are worth their face value.

Jacks, Queens and Kings are worth 10.

Aces are worth 1 or 11, whichever is best for you!

Playing the Game Of Blacjack:

You place a bet. The dealer deals the cards: two to you and one to himself (or herself). These cards are normally dealt face up and open to view. The dealer deals himself a second card, face down, called the hole . This is the mysterious card that makes the game a challenge.

Now you have to decide whether to “hit” or “stand” (also called “stay”). If you hit, the dealer deals you another card, and asks you again whether you want to hit or stand. You will usually want to hit until you are close to that cherished 21 total (unless you bust by hitting once too many times) When you reach a satisfactory card value you “stand”, passing your turn to the dealer. The rule for the dealer is to keep taking cards until he has 17 or more.

Remember that there is a “soft 17” and a “hard 17”. The dealer stands on a soft 17 (in other words if he holds an Ace and a 6).

Also keep in mind that the colors (suits) of the cards are not important in this great game.


Imagine drawing an Ace and a ten-count card. You have what’s often called a “natural”, or Blackjack. And you win automatically, unless the dealer also has blackjack, which makes it a tie (push).

Blackjack pays 3 to 2, which means that you win 3 dollars for every 2 that you bet. This is higher than an ordinary win, which pays even money.

Doubling Down

This is an exciting way to increase your win. After you draw two cards, you can double your bet, but only draw one more additional card. So you may win much more, but you are limiting the number of hits to just one more. Most casinos only allow you to double down if the value of the two cards that you hold is 9, 10 or 11.

Splitting Pairs

Let’s say you get two eights. You are allowed to split this “pair” into two separate hands and play them as two games, by placing another bet equal to your original bet. Some casinos even allow you to “resplit” if you get another card of the same value.

Splitting Aces is a special case. You can only draw one more card on each hand, and if you reach 21, it is NOT considered Blackjack. So you will not collect on the 3:2 odds, but rather as a normal win.

Blackjack FAQ
1. Is there a standard form of Blackjack?

No. There is no standard form of blackjack that can be found in all casinos. You might even find several versions of blackjack played within the same casino.

2. How do I choose the best strategy for Blackjack?

Choosing the “best” strategy depends on two key factors: a) the number of decks used, and b) the “house rules” in effect during play. Find this information out first, and then look for the appropriate strategy. There are loads of strategies out there. But if you’re looking for a solid foundation, check out our strategy section where you can find the basics, and then some.

3. Does card counting really help?

The typical card counter enjoys an edge of 1-1.5%, (average for single deck 1%; average for multi-deck less than 1% – common estimates derived from scientific models), but this depends on factors such as the counting system used, skill level, and house rules. Conditions that allow for more than a 2% edge against the house are rare, even against single deck games, which are considered more lenient towards the player.

4. Is card counting legal?

Yes, it actually is legal, however it is dangerous for the player, as casinos can run players off the game if caught. Blackjack players are legally permitted to use any information made available to them, provided there is no collusion between a player and casino personnel, according to the Nevada courts. The law opens other doors too: if a dealer accidentally reveals the face of a card to a player, for example, the player is legally permitted to use that information to his/her own benefit.

5. How do casinos react to card counters?

Casinos are like people; each one reacts differently to any given situation. Casinos in Atlantic City are not allowed to ban skillful players, but in Nevada, casinos are free to refuse service to whomever they please. Often players are “barred”, which involves being asked to leave, or, in some cases, being “invited” to play any game other than blackjack. Players who have been barred but persist in trying to play can be arrested for trespassing.

6. What advantages do single deck games have over multi-deck games?

The first advantage is really a matter of taste. Some people prefer single deck games because the cards are handheld, as opposed to multi-deck games, which are dealt from a shoe. The technical advantages are a bit more complicated, but they benefit everyone from card counters and basic strategists to novices. Let’s look at these advantages in the converse, that is: why multiple decks are potentially detrimental to the player’s game.

Card counters are disadvantaged by less volatility with multiple decks and hence less frequent opportunities for large favorable bets. Volatility in this case refers to the amount of times the tables can change. With more of the same card, the odds increase, even if each card is quadrupled. Numerically, for example, 4:4 offers more volatility than 50:50, even though these numbers offer the same ratio per card.

Additionally, multiple decks reduce the amount of Blackjacks. This means any player loses opportunities to win payouts of 3 to 2.