Basic Blackjack Rules in the US
Before you dive into the wonderful world of blackjack, we need to let you know about blackjack variations. There are dozens of popular variations of this timeless game, and each variation can have subtle differences, including its own rules, number of decks, and payout ratios.
The two major blackjack types are American and European blackjack. The focus of this guide is American blackjack, which many popular blackjack varieties are based on.
The main goal of blackjack is to get as close as possible to the score of 21 and beat the dealer. However, you need to be careful not to exceed 21 points, or you will automatically lose the hand.
Every card is worth a certain number of points. Cards 2-10 have their face value, meaning that a 2 will always be worth two points, and a 5 will always be worth five points. However, the so-called “face cards” (jacks, queens, and kings) are all worth 10 points. Finally, aces are worth either 1 or 11, depending on your hand.
Before the dealer deals the cards, players need to place wagers. Players usually buy a certain number of chips that they can use to place bets. After the betting part is over, the player will receive two face-up cards. Furthermore, the dealer will place two cards in front of themselves, but only one will be turned face-up; the other one is called a “hole card.” The hole card turns up at the end of the betting round.
Once you have two cards facing up, you need to add their value and decide on the next step. Here are some of the possible actions that you can take in the US blackjack:
- Hit – If you tell the dealer to “hit” you, they will give you one more face-up card. You should choose this option if you have a “soft hand,” meaning that there is room for another card which will add to the value of the first two cards and not go over 21.
- Stand – You should choose “stand” if you have a “hard hand” and don’t want the dealer to give you additional cards, meaning that your cards are sufficient to beat the dealer.
- Split – Players who receive two cards of the same value can choose to split them and make them into two separate bets.
Double – Players who “double down” will double their original bet and receive another hand.
The last step of every hand requires the dealer to show their hole card and compare their hands to the player’s. The one who has a score closer to 21 (but not exceeding 21) is the winner. Those who exceeded 21 are said to “bust.” Dealers can also bust, and in that case, all players win.
If both the dealer and the player have the same score, that is called a “push.” In that case, the bet is returned to the player.
Strategies for Playing Blackjack in the US
Playing blackjack is pretty simple, but you need to know a couple of tips & tricks to master it.
Basic Blackjack Strategy
If you want to minimize the luck factor in the game and take advantage of the low house edge, you should consider learning the basic blackjack strategy. It usually comes with a cheat sheet that clearly states what to do in every possible situation. Once you know it by heart, you will be able to master blackjack.
Card counting is a popular technique for playing blackjack that could even give an edge to the players. Although it is not considered illegal under federal or state law, many casinos frown upon the practice and try to eradicate it. For now, you should stick to the basic blackjack strategy.
Blackjack is available in both online and land-based casinos. Although it requires luck, it is a game of skill as players need to understand basic blackjack strategies when they play it.