The goal of the blackjack game is to beat the dealer: to get as close as possible to 21 points without going over 21. Score is calculated in a special fashion that is unique to Blackjack rules. The scoring is very simple and easy to remember. It is a common rule both in land casino and online casino blackjack.
1. An Ace can have a value of 1 or 11, whichever suits the game situation best. A hand with an Ace can be either soft or hard: a soft hand is a situation where the player can safely draw another card without risk of being busted as he can choose between Ace values to his convenience.
2. Cards 2 to 9 bear their respective face value
3. 10 and all court cards (Jack, Queen and King) are all valued 10
As you see, online blackjack rules are very simple: Ace is considered 1 or 11, court cards are all 10 and all the rest are their face value. The score is calculated by simply summing up the score of all cards that you have at hand.
Blackjack has very little special terminology of its own:
1. A Blackjack hand is simply one player hand. There are multiplayer or multihand variations of the game where it means the same as in the classic blackjack rules: a group of cards that belongs to a player. They are also played in online casino blackjack.
2. A bust is a situation when a hand (either your or the dealer's) draws a card and receives more than 21 points in total. This is a losing situation.
3. A blackjack or a natural hand is a situation when your first two cards score exactly 21 points. This is only possible with an ace and a ten-valued card. This is the remnant of an original Blackjack rule of which the name of the game is derived (see Blackjack History for details)
4. A tie or a push is a game resolution where both win (equal score or natural hands) or bust. When tie occurs, your bet is returned to you.
The dealer will deal two cards to every hand including himself. As soon as the cards are dealt the game begins and each hand takes turns in making decisions. In classic blackjack you always get the first turn as the dealer does not have a will of his own and has to adhere to a strict set of rules that prescribe him how to act.
You can now make the following choices to proceed with your game:
Surrender can only be played before any other choiced are made (right after the cards are dealt). Surrendering is withdrawing from the game ("folding your hand") and it costs you a half of your bet. The early surrender occurs when the player surrenders a hand before the dealer checks his blackjack; the late surrender occurs after the dealer had a chance to check for the blackjack.
Hit - a player that decides to "hit" requests a dealer to serve him an additional card.
Stand - a player that decides to stand indicates that he will not be drawing a card.
Splitting pairs - if your first two cards are score-wise equal cards, you can split them and play two hands independently. When you split pairs you must place a bet on the newly split hand that amounts to the bet on the old hand. Some online casinos may allow you to double down after you split or split multiple times - make sure to check the game manual! If you split two Aces you are only entitled to one additional draw for each Ace. In this case, drawing a ten to an Ace is not considered natural and won't cause a tie because it'd be beaten by a blackjack.
Double is the same as hit with increasing your bet. When you are convinced that the next card will provide a game favourable to you you declare a double. Doubling is adding an additional bet that is equal to the originalbet you wagered. When doubling you are only entitled to one more additional card.
Insurance - if the dealer turns up an Ace he will offer insurance to the players. The choice of insurance allows a player to bet up to half of his original bet against the dealer's blackjack. The dealer will check for blackjack; in case he does the player will lose his original bet but the insurance bet will be paid out at double odds effectively covering the original bet. If the dealer does not have blackjack the player loses both bets.
Not all of these blackjack rules are available in online casino games all the time and there might be variations. Please consider carefully checking your game manual. We have constructed a separate Blackjack Variations page to give you an overlook of what it's like.
The dealer hand follows simple and strict rules of playing. Basically there are two variations of the dealer rule which depend on the table. A Blackjack table will always indicate the type of game the dealer is playing
The dealer doesn't have a bet, so he can't double down or surrender. The dealer also can't split or buy insurance as it makes no sense in the context of the game.
Most of the times the table has a "stand on all 17" rule. It means the dealer will have to draw additional cards until his score reaches 17. As soon as the dealer reaches 17 or more he will stand. This is a small but very crucial rule. Additional variations to this rule can be seen on the Blackjack variations page. Stand on 17 is the most often met case in online blackjack games.
In Live Online Blackjack games it is an accepted practice to tip the dealer when you win just like in usual land casinos. You're not expected to do that when you play online blackjack against a computer.
As Blackjack doesn't have a complicated betting logic the payoff table is very simple:
If your hand wins, you are paid 1 to 1
If insurance is invoked (you have insured your bet and the dealer had a natural had)
you are paid 2 to 1
If you have a natural hand, you are paid 3 to 1 (except for when the dealer has a natural hand too in which case it is a tie and the bet is returned to you).