Beginner's Guide to Blackjack

While some of the playing decisions may be difficult to keep track of, the rules of blackjack are quite simple. The primary rules, like the order in which cards are dealt, who acts first, and so forth, almost never vary. Some of the minor rules may vary from casino to casino, with some being more favorable to the house and others being more favorable to the player. Generally speaking, you should always seek out the casino with the most favorable playing conditions, as every small advantage matters in blackjack. Memorize the following major playing rules and learn how to identify loose games.

The Deal

In blackjack, the players sit facing the dealer at a semicircular table with between five and seven betting boxes. Before starting a new game, the dealer shuffles anywhere from one to eight decks and then “burns” a card by putting it in the discard tray without looking at it or showing it to any of the players. The dealer deals cards clockwise, so that the person at the far right of the table—colloquially known as the “first baseman”—is given a card first. The person at the far left of the table is known as the “third baseman.” After the third baseman gets a card, the dealer also takes a card that is left face up. Everyone is dealt two initial cards, with the dealer’s last card—the hole card—being dealt face down.


In a hole card game, the dealer checks to make sure that his or her first two cards do not make a blackjack, or a card point total that equates to 21. If the dealer shows an ace, players are given the option of taking insurance. When a player takes insurance, he or she is betting that the dealer has a 10-value card in the hole. If the player takes full insurance—half the value of his or her bet—that amount will be matched at a two-to-one ratio upon the dealer showing a blackjack; conversely, if the dealer does not have a blackjack, the player forfeits the insurance bet.

Basic Actions

Apart from taking insurance, there are five actions that a player can take in a game of blackjack. By hitting, a player signals to the dealer that he or she would like another card. By standing, a player signals that the hand is satisfactory, and that the dealer should move on to the next player. By doubling down, a player places a bet that is less than or equal to the bet that was up before the hand started. A double down is usually done when the player has a card that would favorably combine with a 10-value card versus the dealer’s weaker face-up card. A split is when one gets two of the same card value and then matches the initial bet to create two separate hands. A surrender is typically done when the player is dealt an unfavorable two cards and the dealer has a strong face-up card. By surrendering, the player gives up half of his or her bet instead of risking losing the entire bet.

Favorable Rules vs. Unfavorable Rules

The most favorable games are those that offer fewer decks, deeper penetration—fewer cards cut off before a reshuffle—and as few restrictions on doubling, splitting and surrendering as possible.

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Author Kingsino Staff
Date August 20 2012
Tags Beginner Guide, Blackjack