How to Play
Outline of Blackjack
In the game of Blackjack you the player plays against the dealer (House/Casino). The aim of Blackjack is to accumulate cards that add up to 21 or get as close to 21 as possible without going over 21 (busting). If the value of your hand is closer to 21 than that of the dealer you win. If the hands are of equal value the deal is a push and your money is returned. If you have a total of 22 or higher (a busted hand) you lose the hand.
How to play Blackjack
All face cards ( J,Q,K ) are valued at 10 and the cards from 2-10 are valued as indicated. Aces can be valued at either 1 or 11; if counting the Ace as 11 would put the hand over 21, the Ace is automatically counted as 1 instead. You do not need to specify which value the Ace has as it's always assumed to have the value that makes the best hand. The value of a hand is the sum of the values of the individual cards. For example, a hand containing a Jack, 3, and 4 has a value of 17.
To start: You begin a hand of blackjack by placing a bet on the table, you will then receive 2 cards face up. The dealer will receive 1 card face up and 1 face down. If your first 2 cards are an Ace and a 10 ( or J,Q,K ) then you have the best hand of 'Blackjack' or '21' and will automatically win the hand unless the dealer also has a 'Blackjack' in which case the hand would be a draw or 'push' and your bet would be returned. Being the highest possible hand Blackjack normally pays 2.5 times your stake (bet).
Once you have been dealt your 2 cards (and assuming you haven't hit a Blackjack '21' with your first 2 cards) you then decide what you want to do.
Requests another card. You can request a Hit as many times as you like, but if your total goes over 21, you will "bust" and lose the hand. Once you have Hit enough and are happy with your hand you would Stand.
Requests that you receive no more cards. You do this when are happy with the total of your cards and think taking another card will take you over 21 (bust). Generally you would Stand if you have 17 or more (or the dealer shows a low card - as the dealer has to Hit on 16 or lower so has a high chance of busting). See the Blackjack strategy section for more on this.
Once you Stand it then the dealers turn to act. The dealer will then reveal their 2nd card. The dealer must hit on 16 or less and stand on 17 or more. If when the dealer hits they exceed 21 then they 'bust' and you automatically win. Once the dealer has finished their hand whoever is closer to 21 wins, unless its a draw (called a 'push') when your bet is returned.
Note: There are now some other variations of blackjack where the rules for when the dealer stands or hits varies, please make sure you understand the rules that the dealer is using before playing the game.
If you have two cards of the same value i.e 9,9 or 7,7, you then have the option to Split. This option will only be active immediately after you receive your first two cards. You can split your cards into two hands and play each hand separately. Your original bet will be duplicated for the new hand. Each hand will then be played as normal, except when splitting Aces, where only one additional card per hand is dealt. Normally the split option can only be used once per hand - you cannot split part of a split hand. Any winning 21 obtained after splitting a pair is paid 1-to-1. See the Blackjack Strategy section for more on splitting.
If your first 2 cards reach a certain value you have the option to Double Down your bet. If you select this option, three things will happen: you will get exactly one more card, your turn will end, and your bet will be doubled. This option will only be available immediately after you receive your first two cards and their combined total - depending on the casino rules this is normally between 9-11.
Whenever the dealer's up-card is an Ace, the player has the option of taking insurance for half the amount of the bet.
If you wish to take insurance, click on the "Insurance" button. If you do not wish to take insurance, you simply click on the "Pass" button to proceed with the rest of the hand. Taking insurance means the player makes a second bet (of half the original bet) that the dealer's face down card is a ten card. If this is the case, the player is paid 2 to 1 on the insurance bet and the initial bet loses as it is beaten by the dealer's Blackjack. If the dealer does not have a natural Blackjack, the insurance bet is lost and the hand is played out as normal.
It is widely regarded amongst blackjack players that the Insurance option should NEVER be taken as it is more advantageous for the casino and you will NEVER find a pro blackjack player taking Insurance.
Some casinos offer a surrender option after you have made your bet and received your first 2 cards. If you don't like the look of your 2 cards you have the option to 'throw away' the cards and surrender the hand without playing it, this gives you back half your stake. Check the casino rules to see if the option is available at the online casino you are playing.
With Blackjack becoming more and more popular with players at online casinos the casinos are responding by offering more variations on the blackjack games and rules. These variations on the rules can alter the way the dealer stands and draws cards and also your descisions when playing your hands of Blackjack so it's becoming more important to make sure you read the rules for the game before you play.