Rules of Blackjack

Part of what makes Blackjack so popular are the easy rules. Blackjack is a math-based card game of enormous simplicity. Best of all, the casino's dealer plays by the strictest rules. This makes the game a comfortable choice for beginners as they aren't playing a strategy game against a serious pro!

The basic goal of Blackjack is to get a hand that, when counted according to the assigned values of the card, equals 21 or is closer to 21 than the hand held by the house. Going over 21 is called "busting". The numerical values of the cards are fixed, except in the case of the Ace. The card's suits are irrelevant to game play.

The numbered cards valued 1-9 are all counted at their face value. The face cards, King, Queen and Jack, are all valued at 10. The Ace is the only card with a variable numerical value. The Ace may be counted as a 1 or an 11, depending on the circumstances.

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The dealer will deal the cards, starting at his or her left, and proceed around the table until all players have two cards. In a shoe game, these cards will all be dealt with their faces up. In a game with fewer decks, your cards will be dealt face down. The table rules differ at this point. In a shoe game, players are not allowed to touch their cards. In a regular game, you may pick up your cards but with some particular restrictions. First, use only one hand to handle your cards. Keep your hands and the cards above the table at all times. If you ask for another card from the dealer when your turn comes, remember that this card must remain, face up, on the table.

There's no need to be alarmed about the dealer and everyone else at the table seeing your hand. Blackjack is not like poker. There's no bluffing or secrecy involved.

The dealer will play his or her hand according to set rules. Most often, the dealer will always "hit", which means to take another card, until they reach 17 or bust. Players may be dealt as many cards as they wish and stop whenever they wish.

If you are dealt an Ace, you can always count that card in the way that's most advantageous to your hand. For instance, if you have an Ace and a King and ask to be dealt another card and are dealt a Queen, you may count that ace as a 1 so that you hit 21 without going over. If you were dealt a 5 and a 2 and then received an Ace when the dealer hit you, you can count it as an 11 so that your score is 18. Aces are always counted to your favor.

Don’t be afraid to admit being a beginner to the dealers and the other players. You'll find that the dealers, for certain, and the vast majority of players willing to help you get in on the game.