The Rules of Blackjack that Everyone Should Know

The rules of blackjack are fairly simple to learn. Most players prefer to learn through hands-on experience, and this is a great way to do so as long as players can find a free blackjack room in which to play. Although it isn't hard to learn how to play blackjack, it is quite difficult to master the strategies that allow players to reduce the house edge and increase their odds of winning.

About the Variations

Before any player takes the time to learn how to play blackjack, he or she should understand that there are many different variations of the game that have different rules. In fact, some casinos vary the rules associated with classic blackjack, especially when it comes to the point at which the dealer must stand or hit, the rules about doubling down and when the player is allowed to split his or her hand.

The Objective

In almost every variant of blackjack, the goal of the game is to create a hand that is higher in value than the dealer's hand without exceeding a total hand value of 21, which would be considered a 'bust'. The player must make decisions in order to create his or her final hand, but the decisions as to when the dealer must 'hit' or 'stand' are typically made by the house and dictated in the rules of the game.

Point Values

Players should also understand the values of the various cards in the deck in order to know how the game actually works. In attempting to create a hand that is 21 or under but still beats the dealer's score, the value of the cards are as follows: Aces can be worth one or 11 points, 10s and face cards are worth 10 points, and all other cards are worth the numbers found on their faces. For instance, a six is worth six points.

Payouts and Winning Hands

Players who successfully beat the dealer with a hand that is 21 or under will typically win an even money payout. However, a player who successfully obtains a two-card blackjack, which is sometimes called a natural, will win a payout of three to two. Players should remember that the payouts associated with blackjack will vary somewhat based upon the variant that is being played and the casino that is hosting it.

Online vs. Land-Based Casinos

Many players believe that there are differences in the ways that online and land-based casinos host their blackjack games. This is untrue, but as previously stated, there may be some variances in the rules between venues. Players should always be sure to understand the house rules no matter if they are playing online or in a land-based casino. This way, there will be no surprises.

Insurance and Surrender

Insurance and surrender bets are not allowed in all venues, but they can certainly be of use when they are. For instance, an insurance bet--which must be placed only when the dealer is showing an Ace as an up-card--will return half of the player's wager in the event that the dealer is holding a two-card natural. The surrender rule allows the player to simply fold his or her hand and have half of his or her wager returned, which can be helpful in the event of a bad draw.