How to Play Blackjack: Ultimate Guide for 2023

How to play Blackjack in online and brick-and-mortar casinos? What is a soft hand, and what is a hard hand? Here, you’ll find answers to all these questions and much more.

I’ll provide insights regarding betting strategies you can utilize, Blackjack etiquette, differences between a hard and soft hand, card values, and everything else you’ll need if you want to start playing the Blackjack card game.

What Is a Blackjack Card Game?

Blackjack, also known as Vingt-Un or Twenty-One, is a card game played with a 54-card deck where the goal is to get as close to 21 points as possible without exceeding it. Unlike some other casino games, Black jack or Blackjack is played against the dealer, no matter the number of opponents.

If you already know some of the basics of this card game, you can try playing it online for free (or for real money) or in land-based casinos. There are many various versions of Blackjack you can try.

However, if you want to learn more in-depth about how does Blackjack work, stick to the end, and you’ll be ready.

Blackjack Rules You Should Know

In blackjack, there are a variety of rules and deck counts that need to be followed. There are several ways to play blackjack, but one of the most common ways is to use a shoe (a plastic device that distributes cards). Currently, there are still single-deck and multi-deck blackjack games in casinos. This article will illustrate how to play blackjack with six decks of cards, which is the most common game. The step-by-step process is as follows:

  • A player purchases chips
  • A player places a wager
  • A player receives cards from a dealer
  • A player plays a hand
  • A dealer plays a hand
  • Payouts

Buying Chips

As a requirement for playing the game, chips must be used. You’ll have to exchange cash for casino chips at casinos that no longer accept cash. It’s as simple as walking up to the table and putting your money on the felt. The dealers will never touch your money. There’s a rule that prohibits dealers from taking items from players.

You can see the amount of money on the table as soon as the dealer lays it out. A pit boss will verify it. After you buy in, a dealer counts out chips and pushes them toward you. Once you have the chips in your hand, you can begin betting. Your dealer will arrange the buy-in amount on the felt so cameras can see it. For $1,000, this is what buying in looks like.

Placing a Wager

At the start of a round, you first place a bet in the betting circle (sometimes a square or just the casino logo on the felt). There will also be a small sign that tells you what your betting limit is on the far right or left side of the table. On most US poker tables, a minimum wager of $5 per hand needs to be placed. This may vary depending on the casino and its regulations.

Dealing Cards

As soon as players place their bets, the dealer deals one card face up to each player and themselves. Another round of cards is dealt face up to every player, but the dealer’s second card is dealt face down.

Deciding How to Play a Hand

In blackjack, you can decide to hit, stand, double down, split, and surrender, depending on the cards you’re dealt.

If you like your cards, the dealer will move on to the next player. That means you’ve decided to stand. The hand signal, in this case, is waving your hand horizontally over the cards.

If you wish to hit, the dealer will give you more cards, one after another, until you reach 21 or decide to stand. There’s no limit to the number of cards you can take as long as you stay under 21. Tap the felt with your finger to signal to the dealer that you want another card.

In blackjack, you also have the opportunity to double down or increase your initial bet. If your hand total is favorable to you, but you need one more card to make it a winning combination, doubling your initial wager will allow you to take only one more card. To take more cards, you must place your initial wager on the left side of your original wager. Technically, you can “double for less,” but it isn’t a good idea most of the time.

You can also place a second wager if you have an equal-value pair of cards, and the dealer will divide them so that each becomes the first card in two new hands. It’s also possible to deal with a face card this way. If, for example, you have a King and a Jack in your hand, you can split them because they both have the same value, even though they’re not a pair in reality.

To indicate that you wish to split rather than double down, make a “peace sign.” You will receive a second card when the dealer makes two hands out of your first.

Finally, can surrender your initial hand in exchange for half of your original wager if you don’t like it. Using your finger, draw a line across the felt behind your bet to indicate that you want to surrender. It’s common for dealers to confuse this signal with the hit signal. If you want to be safe, just utter the word “surrender” and make a hand gesture for the cameras to see.


You and the dealer have played your hands according to the 21 card game rules. Therefore, there are two possible outcomes.

When the dealer busts, each hand still in play on the table will receive even money (1x the wager).

The dealer will deal cards (17 through 21). It’s just a matter of who has a better hand if your hand is still in play. The dealer sweeps your wager in that case. The dealer pays you a one-time bet if you have the higher hand. If your hand total equals the dealer’s hand total, it’s considered a push, so you keep your money but don’t receive your wager as a reward.

We have now reached the end of the round. Therefore, the cards are swept, and you start over.

Basic Blackjack Strategy You Can Employ

As you make your decision based on the cards you hold and the cards that the dealer shows, you employ the basic strategy to help you make the right decision. It’s possible to calculate the most advantageous strategy for every possible combination of a hand and the dealer’s up card. This strategy was developed by a computer based on millions of blackjack rounds to determine the best way to play each hand combination. For this reason, blackjack will never be a guessing game.

Player Hand Resolution

You can expect different outcomes depending on the situation.

When dealt a hand where the basic strategy dictates that you shouldn’t take any cards, you made the right move by standing.

In order to make a hand, you must take more cards (hit, double, split) and reach 21 or under without busting.

If you bust or surrender your hand, you’re out of the game. When your hand busts, you immediately lose the wager you placed. This is beneficial to casinos. Since the player busted first, they still keep their money despite the dealer busting.

As long as your hand hasn’t busted and you haven’t surrendered, the dealer has the option of playing their hand. The dealer then turns over their hole card and adds two cards. There is an automatic requirement that dealers stand when their hand totals 17 or more. If the dealer has a hand total of 16 or under, they will take additional hit cards. Unlike players, dealers can’t double, split, or surrender and must play their hand the same way every time. The only exception is when the dealer has a 17 consisting of an ace and a 6.

Depending on the casino, the dealer may decide to hit this hand because it counts as a 7 (since the strength of an ace can be determined in various ways), which will give them a chance of getting a better hand. The casino has an advantage when the dealer stands on all 17s in a row. The dealer usually indicates whether a soft 17 will be hit on the felt, so you know what to expect. Furthermore, dealers aren’t allowed to deviate from the casino’s rules.

Blackjack Card Values

Fortunately, it’s very easy to figure out the total value of your cards at any given moment, which is good news.

The value of cards 2 through 10 is the same as their number. In addition, all picture cards (i.e., jacks, queens, and kings) carry a value of 10. So that leaves us with the ace, which may be worth 1 or 11, making it a valuable card to receive because it gives you a variety of options.

As a result, your blackjack card value chart should look something like this:

  • Ace: 1 or 11
  • 2: 2
  • 3: 3
  • 4: 4
  • 5: 5
  • 6: 6
  • 7: 7
  • 8: 8
  • 9: 9
  • 10: 10
  • Jack: 10
  • Queen: 10
  • King: 10

In blackjack, 52 cards are used as part of the standard deck. Depending on the number of players at the table and the preference of the casinos, the game can be played with up to eight decks. After most rounds, the dealer would have to stop and shuffle a single deck.

Hard vs. Soft Hand in Blackjack

When it comes to blackjack hands, there is only one card that makes the difference between a hard hand and a soft hand—an ace.

Soft Hand

As soon as the player is dealt two cards at the beginning of the game, the player is considered to have a soft hand if one of those cards is an ace. That’s because the ace can either be a 1 or an 11. It all depends on the other card. Having a soft hand implies more liquidity and that the player has more choices.

Hard Hand

In contrast, in blackjack, a hard hand is when there is no ace in the hand. Therefore, a hard hand leaves the player with no options in certain situations.

Betting Rules for Blackjack

As with any other casino game, blackjack tables have a set of bet limits that all players must adhere to. A game’s minimum and maximum bets vary based on whether it’s designed for high rollers or low-stake gamblers, but they generally range from $2 to $1,000 for the minimum and maximum bets, respectively.

In blackjack, players must make their wagers before any cards are dealt. The game begins after that.

Even Money Rules

If a player has blackjack and the dealer’s up card is an ace, the dealer may offer even money. The player accepts a 1:1 payout on their original bet before the dealer checks for blackjack. Generally, this bet isn’t recommended since players are statistically better off not taking it.

How to Play Blackjack: Step-by-Step Instructions

Now that we’ve discussed blackjack rules, let’s see what strategies you can employ to maximize your winnings.

Number of Decks

Blackjack can be played using one or multiple decks of cards. The number of decks affects the house edge. In other words, the house edge increases as more decks of cards are included in the game. Also, the more decks are used, the higher the complexity of the game.

In modern blackjack played in most land-based casinos, six to eight decks of 52 cards are typically used. When playing online blackjack, up to eight decks of cards are normally used. Live dealer blackjack, on the other hand, is streamed online, but it feels like a real casino. Typically, eight decks of cards are used in live dealer blackjack, but it’s possible to play with six decks of cards.


In order to receive another card, a player must “hit.” No additional wager is required, and you can hit as many times as you like. Depending on the dealer’s up card, you’ll have to decide whether to hit or stand. It’s generally recommended that players don’t hit if the dealer’s up card is a 6 or lower unless their hand is an 11 or lower.


In the event that a player has two cards of equal value, they can split their hand and play them separately. A player must match their original bet to cover their new second hand.

Among all moves, splitting has the most variations in rules. It’s possible for players to split up to three times per round in casinos, resulting in four hands per round. If players are uncertain of the casino’s betting rules, they should always ask the dealer or check the blackjack variation rules.

As long as the dealer’s up card is 7 or lower, pairs of aces and 8s are always worth splitting in Blackjack.


In order to end a turn, players should stand if they’re satisfied with their hand. All players (including the dealer) draw cards until they’ve completed all their hands.

After a player stands, their turn is over, and the rules state that they can’t make any more bets. Players generally tend to stand when their hands have a value of 17 or more and 13–16 unless the dealer has an up card of 7 or higher.

Doubling Down

Doubling down can double a player’s bet, but it’s risky. In order to receive one extra card, players must match their original wager; they can’t hit afterward. Dealers will give players face-down cards and must wait until all wagers are settled before the dealer flips them.

In some blackjack games, you can only double down once per round if their hand value is 9, 10, or 11. Doubling down in Blackjack is a good idea on most hands containing 10 or 11 and can pay off on many hands containing aces and 2–7, but only if the dealer’s up card is low.


In some blackjack variations, players can return their cards and receive half their original bet if they have a bad hand. Players who wish to surrender must do so before drawing any further cards. Surrender rules at casinos are generally divided into two categories:

  • Early surrender: Before a dealer checks for blackjack, a player can surrender and pay only half of the initial bet.
  • Late surrender: After a dealer checks for blackjack, a player can surrender and take half of the initial bet only if the dealer doesn’t have a blackjack.

Blackjack games with early surrender are rare. However, early surrender is available in a few RNG-powered PlayTech games, for instance.

It should be noted that some blackjack variations don’t offer surrender as an option. As a result, the odds for players are generally worse in these blackjack games.

Blackjack Etiquette

If you’re wondering, “how do you play blackjack?” it’s important to understand and learn the basic rules of the game.

Blackjack etiquette is also important to follow to play the game effectively. Those new to the game who don’t know the rules might get confused. It’s essential to know what to do and what not to do to avoid embarrassment and enjoy the game. These blackjack table etiquette tips will help you avoid being a nuisance at the blackjack table.

Don’t hand your money to the dealer

Never give cash to the dealer. In a Las Vegas casino, it’s never allowed for a dealer to take the money out of your hand. It’s not personal, but it’s a casino rule. Before placing your cash on the table, wait for the current round to end. The dealer will spread out the equivalent chips before sliding them to your side of the table. If you wish to purchase chips of a particular denomination, tell the dealer.

Keep your cards in one hand

Make sure that you only use one hand when you are holding cards. In order to prevent the switching of cards, this rule is in place. It’s easier for a player who uses two hands to switch cards than a player who uses only one hand.

Table cards should never be removed

Keep in mind that you should never remove your cards from the table at any point during the game. It’s recommended that the cards are seen by other players, the dealer, and the security cameras.

Once the dealer calls “no more bets,” don’t touch your chips.

After you’ve placed your wager and the cards have been dealt, you aren’t allowed to touch your chips until the end of the game. Your chips can only be collected after you’ve won. However, if you lose, the dealer will collect your chips for you.

Don’t touch the cards when they are dealt face up

The shoe-dealt version of blackjack involves players receiving both cards face up and the house receiving one card face up and one face down. Players can’t touch the cards. Instead, you indicate a “hit” or “stand” by using your hand motion for another card or signaling to the dealer if you’re standing. Cards and chips can only be removed or moved by the dealer.

Signal your decision, don’t say it

You must communicate your decision to stand or hit in Las Vegas through hand signals. Instead of saying “stand” or “hit,” signal your decision to the dealer. Security cameras serve to record the game. Don’t let hand gestures intimidate you. The dealer will be glad to show you the signals if you’re new to the game.


Now that you know the rules of Blackjack, card values, hard and soft hands, moves, and all other instructions on how to play Blackjack, you can check a cheat sheet for Blackjack that you can use while practicing. If you already know how all these things, you can try to learn card counting, which can be a valuable skill in Blackjack.

Lastly, I’ve prepared frequently asked questions regarding Blackjack.


Is blackjack skill or luck?

There are specific rules and tactics you can employ to win a blackjack game. For that reason, blackjack is considered a game of skill rather than luck.

Should I hit or stand on 16?

If you hold a hand of 10 or 12 to 16, it’s best to hit. If you hold a 17 and over, it’s wise to stand. It’s important to note that when a dealer has cards 7–9, your chances increase because they can’t make a blackjack.

How much should you bet in blackjack?

A typical blackjack bet ranges from $10 to $10,000 per hand. There’s a little wiggle room—you might only find $20–$5,000 or $5–$20,000. A large casino blackjack game typically accepts between $10 and $10,000.

Is ace 1 or 11 in blackjack?

The value of Aces is 11, but if you need it to get to 21, it can be counted as a 1.

Do you hit on 15 against a 10?

In case you hold 15 in your hand that consists of an 8-7, you should hit against a dealer’s 10.

What does it mean Blackjack pays 3 to 2?

A 3:2 payout means you’ll get $3 for each wager of $2. This payout ratio is a standard one, giving a casino a slightly higher house edge.