How to Play Blackjack

Blackjack CardsBlackjack, also known as "21", is one of the best games in the casino for savvy gamblers. If you are looking for a game that offers excitement, a low house edge, and the ability to employ strategy, blackjack is the game for you. With so many advantages, it is no surprise that blackjack is the most popular casino table game.

Read this page to learn the rules of blackjack as quickly and painlessly as possible. Once you get the hang of the rules, we recommend you check out the free online blackjack games at Bovada Casino. There you can practice with play money until you have a solid foundation. After that, you will be ready to play for real money.

Blackjack Rules

The ultimate goal in blackjack is to get closer to twenty-one than the dealer, without going over. Several people can play at a blackjack table at once, but each player competes separately against the dealer. One person can win and another can lose in the same hand because the players have no effect on each other.

At the beginning of each hand of blackjack, the players place a bet on the outcome of the hand. Each player is then dealt two cards and then those players may choose to draw as many cards as they wish in order to get as close to twenty-one as possible.

Players who get closer to twenty-one than the dealer win 1:1 on their original bets. Players who go over twenty-one, or do not get closer to twenty-one than the dealer, lose their bets. If a player is dealt a “natural” blackjack, which means that the player is dealt twenty-one on their first two cards, that player is paid 3:2 on his/her original bet.

Card Values

Each card in blackjack is worth the following number of points:

  • Face Cards (Jack, Queen, King) are worth ten points each.
  • Number Cards (Two-Ten) are worth face value.
  • Aces are worth either one point or eleven – whichever creates the best hand

A natural blackjack occurs when you are dealt an Ace and a face card or ten. This is an automatic win unless the dealer also gets a blackjack. In that case, the bet is considered a push and no money changes hands. In all other cases, a blackjack results in you being paid 3:2 on your money.

Play of the Game

A typical hand of blackjack is played as follows:

  1. Each player places a bet.
  2. The dealer deals one card face up to each player and one card face down to himself.
  3. The dealer deals one more card face up to each player and one card face up to himself.
  4. Each player now has the option to receive more cards or stand (which means to stop receiving cards). The goal here is to get as close to twenty-one as possible without going over.
  5. When the players are finished, the dealer reveals his hole card and plays his hand out. In most casinos, the dealer must stand with seventeen points or higher and draw with sixteen points or lower.
  6. The dealer then pays out everyone who got closer to twenty-one than the dealer without going over. Anyone who went over twenty-one or didn't get closer to twenty-one than the dealer loses. If the dealer busts, all the players who didn't bust win 1:1 on their wagers.

Other Blackjack Moves

Besides just hitting and standing, there are also some situational plays you can make that increase your blackjack odds. Here are the various plays you can make, along with explanations of the play's advantages and disadvantages:


If your first two cards are the same value, you may split them into two hands. You place a second bet, and then receive two new cards to complete each hand. From there, you play each hand separately.

Doubling Down

If your first two cards total nine, ten, or eleven without Aces, you may double your bet. After you double down, you will receive exactly one more card - no more, no less.


When you play blackjack, if surrender is offered, you may surrender half your bet and exit the hand rather than continue on and risk losing the entire bet. If surrenders are allowed before the dealer checks for blackjack, it is called an early surrender. If surrenders are only available after the dealer checks for blackjack, it is called a late surrender. Surrenders are rarely a smart play.


If the dealer's up card is an Ace, the players have the option to take insurance to protect against the dealer having a blackjack. A player who wants insurance places an additional bet and if the dealer does in fact have a blackjack, insurance pays out at 2:1 odds. If the dealer does not have a blackjack, the insurance bet is lost. Taking insurance is always a bad bet.

Playing Blackjack Online

The best online casino for blackjack is Bovada Casino. Not only can you practice for free but when you do play for real money, you will get some of the highest payouts in the industry. Out of all the online casinos out there, we feel that Bovada Casino is the best one for blackjack. Alternatively, you can play on this free flash game:

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