How to Play Blackjack

How to play blackjack – a dealers guide

How to play blackjack

How to Play Blackjack
how to play blackjack

The rules of how to play blackjack are very simple, you’ve got to get as close to 21 without going over 21 (going bust), ending up with a hand better than the dealer has who will play his/her hand last.

Blackjack is played with lots of decks of cards mixed together usually 7 packs so the dealer has plenty in the shoe to keep the game running. At the reshuffle point many players will have a cigarrete or take a breather or a trip to the ATM or bar. Or perhaps on a weekend the dealer will flex the cards and shuffle up nice and quick to entertain. The dealer will offer a cut card to a player to start the new “shoe” (deck) and the cards are loaded into the shoe. 

All picture cards and the 10 card count as 10. An Ace can be 1 or 11 and all other cards are the value of their number.

If you go over 21 you instantly lose (bust) and your bet is lost.

In the result of a tie e.g. you both have 20 then your bet is returned i.e. you win nothing and lose nothing (a push).

The dealer must draw cards until he/she has a hand of 17 or more or goes bust. Players don’t have to pull cards to 17, they can stand/stick on anything they want.

How to Play Blackjack

If you succeed in beating the dealer or the dealer goes bust you win 1:1 – or double your money. #10 stake pays #10

A BLACKJACK is an Ace (11 or 1) and a picture card (10) in your first two cards. These cards total 21 – the unbeatable hand. This pays 3:2 – #10 stake pays #15. Pulling cards to 21 is not a Blackjack, only if you get it with the first two cards. For example, if your first two cards are 10 + 2, you would likely want to “pull”, “hit” to make a better hand. If you then got dealt 9, you have 21, the best possible outcome and you likely win. If the dealer then pulled cards to 21 you would have a “push” = bet returned.

You only have a Blackjack 3:2 payout if its the first two cards that you are dealt – an Ace and a 10 (or picture card,  for which all picture cards have the value 10) otherwise you dont have Blackjack – you have 21 and the payout is 1:1.

If you have a pair, you can split the two cards into two separate hands and play them as two independent hands and to do this you must double the stake i.e. match your original stake on the new hand that is created.

You also have the option to double. This means that having seen your first two cards and the dealers first card you can then double your bet if you like what you see. If you do this, one card is dealt to you and whatever the result is, is final, i.e. you can’t take any more card only”

How to Play Blackjack  – “Doubling 10 one card only”

Usually a player will double if they have 10 or 11 (such as a 5 and a 5 or a 7 and a 4) and the dealer has 5 or 6 because with a starting hand of 10 you have a better chance to make a good hand – if you pull a picture (10) or an ace (11) then you will have 20 or 21 – a very good hand.

When the dealers first card is 5 or 6, it’s more likely that they will go bust. The dealer must keep taking cards until they have 17 or better so if they pull two 10′s on a 5 or a 6 then they would be bust and all players win. If the dealer busts then it doesn’t matter what you ended up pulling/hitting when you doubled, if you pulled a 2 to make 12, because the dealer busts, you win anyway. If you pulled a 10 to make 20 then you will beat the dealer even if he pulls to 17,18 or 19.


If you have a BLACKJACK and the dealer’s first card is an a ace, picture or 10 then you are offered the option to take insurance. This means that you win in the same manner as if you had just beaten the dealer and not got your blackjack – double up. If you refuse insurance and dealer does make the blackjack then it would be a push – you would win nothing.

Perfect Pairs

Many casino blackjack tables also have a side bet on your blackjack box for perfect pairs. Different casinos will have different payouts for this but the basics of it are that because many decks of cards are used in shoe of blackjack, it is possible that you will get two identical cards (a perfect pair). For identical cards on a pair plus bet where I worked it would pay 35-1 such as having two kings of diamonds. If your pairs are different colors you win 5-1, same colors 10-1. In my casino your max bet for this is #5 giving you the possibility to win #175max on any given hand on the pair plus bet.

Players Decisions

When you have played or dealt blackjack for a while in a casino, it soon becomes noticeable that the house edge is often determined by the players decisions. This gives the blackjack player the control of the game to a certain extent that is lacking in 3 card poker and roulette.

When you have bet on roulette and the ball is spinning, you no longer have any control. Blackjack isn’t like that.

Pulling/taking a card/hitting a card or not hitting a card impacts each box along the table. This is true for all cards that all the customers choose to pull/hit and ultimately determines which card will be the last one that dealer pulls.

How to Play Blackjack

TIP1 – Utilize the “end box” to take control of the dealers hand.

A lot of the more serious players that I used to deal to often like to have control of the end box. The end box is important because its the last time a card can be drawn. If the end box stands stands then the dealer takes the card. If the player hits then they are taking the card that the dealer would otherwise have had. In order to try and control the outcome of the dealers hand you can utilize the end box when playing on multiple boxes.

For example the player may play a low stake on the end box in comparison to their other boxes and deliberately play to bust his end box hand so as to take a card that might otherwise have given the dealer a great hand. For example, the dealer has 10 so the player on a hunch may take card on 16, trying to take a 10 on it, not caring if it busts the box because he wants to try and stop the dealer pulling that 10 to make 20. If the dealer had pulled 20 then their other bets would have lost.

Or the player may stand on a low number deliberately to take a chance that by doing so, the dealer will go bust.

The end box ultimately has the final say in taking cards away from the dealers hand.

It is definitely worth baring in mind to take control of the correct decision rather than leave it to chance with another player. Of course luck is a large factor and by tampering around with it, it could have the opposite effect, but from what I’ve seen, people who play blackjack a lot like to use the end box.

Another inexperienced player may stand on a low number which may well be deemed by a good/pro player the “wrong” thing to do. Many many a time have I seen the end box customer get a right good grilling or load of abuse from regular/pro blackjack customers, because their “stupid” decision made all the other players lose.

Be warned – only play the end box in a casino if you know what you are doing! – or risk getting called a variety of names by the other customers! Perhaps if you want some more room you could try playing some silly end box hands to clear the table 🙂

How to Play Blackjack

Tip 2 – Play the statistical advantage.

I have always been more interested in Poker generally. Here is a video that I found that I think can explain perfect play well.

Perfect play is one of the fundamental rules of profiting at blackjack, not hitting on hunches. There are many tables to be found on google images, I don’t need to create another one, that shows the statistically correct thing to do and learning that is essential to a long term blackjack strategy if you have any chance of winning money in the long run. Blackjack cheat sheat

Using the double is a fundamental part of playing the advantage.

Doubling or just increasing bets at certain times is favored by card counters. Card counting exists in all casinos because its impossible really to prove. After all you can’t get inside someone’s mind and prove that they are doing anything of the sort. While its very difficult to count cards exactly – very difficult in fact, (most customers try) there are little methods that you can use to tally up patterns of cards

How to Play Blackjack

Here’s an example of how to count your way through a shoe of blackjack:

When a picture is drawn add one to your total which begins at 0. When a number is drawn you subtract 1 from your total. In the casino where I worked there were 6 decks of cards making 30 picture cards (including aces and 10′s) in each deck, therefore 180 in the shoe. By keeping a running total you can see when you are more likely to draw picture cards and picture cards are generally what you want to hit when you do a double.

In the film 21 (not the greatest film but worth seeing if you like blackjack) they use code words to alert their teammates what the running total is, such as “sweet” means +16 or something along those lines. “Oh this drink is too sweet” tells the teammate that the total is +16 – nice system!

Many players play this tactic in predatory style much like a pro poker play. The pro blackjack player plays long hrs at low stakes and then amps it up when the conditions are perfect :). I see people do this all the time and it can work very well indeed. Your own judgement of the game is a factor here and the running total isn’t an exact science. If you can count cards and know that pictures are likely then of course you want to double your stake.

How to Play Blackjack Cards

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