Also referred to as “21,” Blackjack is the most popular casino game in the world. It provides the lowest house edge of all casino table games and learning how to play Blackjack is easy and fun. Unlike poker and other card games, Blackjack rules are designed for players to compete against the dealer and not the other players at the table.

The following is a Blackjack guide to help you understand the rules, strategy, and etiquette to help you feel confident when you sit down at a table, and give you the best chances of walking away a winner.

History of Blackjack Rules

While the exact origins of the game remain a mystery lost in time, the first reference can be found in a book by Miguel de Cervantes around the turn of the 17th century, where it is called “ventiuna,” or 21. In the story, the goal of the game was to get a total of 21 without going over, and the ace serving as either a one or eleven.

When the game made its way to the western hemisphere, one of the bonuses added to the rules was that either of the black jacks, spades or clubs, in your hand, would pay out 10:1, and the Blackjack name stuck. Modern games refer to any combination of two cards adding up to 21 regardless of the cards’ suit or color.

Basics to Learn How to Play Blackjack

The game of Blackjack begins when you place your bet on the table using chips with designated cash amounts based on the color that you can purchase from the dealer.

The dealer will then deal out two cards for each player and themselves, with one of the dealer’s cards dealt down, and one up and shown to the table. Some casinos will deal your cards up; others deal them down. There is no advantage to the house or other players if they see your cards. Most dealers and other players will in fact serve as a Blackjack guide to help you make the right decisions throughout the game.

You will then be asked if you want another card, referred to as a hit, or if you are good with the cards you have, called standing. If you have been dealt an ace and a 10 or face card, you have “Blackjack!” If one of your cards is an ace and the other is not a 10 or face card, you may use the ace as either a one or eleven. For example, if you have been dealt an ace and 6, you have what is called a “soft 17” or simply a 7.

Blackjack Rules When It is Your Turn

When it is your turn, you have several move options depending on the cards you are dealt and the card the dealer is showing. You can hit, meaning you get another card, or stand with the cards you have. In some situations, you may also split your cards into two hands, or double your bet.


Since there are more face cards and 10s in the deck than any other card, you must assume the next card dealt will likely be a 10. Therefore, almost any time you take another card, there is a risk of you going over 21 and losing the hand. You must also assume the dealer’s down card is a 10. Since they must stand on a 17 or higher, if they are showing a 7 or higher, you should generally keep hitting until you reach 17 or higher before standing, even at the risk of going over.


If you have 17 or higher, you should automatically stand. If the dealer is showing a seven or higher, standing when you have under 17 is a risk not worth taking.


If you are dealt identical cards of any suit or color, you may double your bet and split the cards into two hands. Aces and eights are the most commonly split pairs, though others may split lower cards, particularly if the dealer is showing a six or below.

Doubling Down

There are times when your two cards combined will total 11 or under, ensuring you will not go over 21 if you take a hit. In these cases, you may double your bet and you will receive only one card. It is a chance to take advantage of your increased odds of winning the hand knowing you will not go over. This is especially effective with the dealer showing a six or below, increasing their odds to go bust.

Blackjack Guide When It Is the Dealer’s Turn

As a player, you may make any moves you want, even if they are the highest possible risks to your hand. You can split 10s or hit on a 19 if you want. The dealer, however, must follow specific guidelines based on established casino Blackjack rules.

When you learn how to play the game, it is important to know what the dealer can, cannot, and must do based on the cards dealt to them and the players’ actions. In most casino Blackjack games, the dealer must:

  • Hit 16 or lower regardless of the players’ cards
  • Stand on 17 or higher
  • Hit a soft 17 (ace and a six)

Basic Strategies When You Learn How to Play Blackjack

The most important strategy when you learn how to play Blackjack is to play to the dealer’s hand. The dealer’s up card will help you decide the best course of action based on your hand. If the dealer is showing a 7 card or higher, you will need to keep taking cards until you reach the 17-point threshold or go over. When the dealer is showing a 6 or lower, you have more flexibility, and you can refrain from taking a card you otherwise might not in hopes the dealer will go over.

Blackjack is a social game with everyone else at the table helping you towards the smartest choices with the best odds of winning. Seek out the advice of the others at the table for more nuanced decisions and the rare circumstances that require a deeper understanding of the games.

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