Blackjack, in all of its variants, is one of the most frequently played card games at any casino, whether it’s a brick-and-mortar casino or an online casino UK.
Blackjack already has a low house edge compared to other casino games, but with a solid understanding of the blackjack 21 rules, basic strategy, and our blackjack rules and tips, you’ll be able to play the game optimally and avoid common mistakes.
Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced blackjack player, this guide will cover all the casino blackjack rules you need to know before you start playing the game. We’ll also walk you through every step of the game and the actions you can take to play more confidently.
Remember, having the necessary knowledge and implementing the best blackjack practices will give you a chance to improve your odds, but winning is never guaranteed. Blackjack isn’t just about skill; chance also determines the outcome to a certain extent.
How to Play Blackjack?
That being said, let’s dive into what are the rules for blackjack and how to play the game. The steps of the game are always the same whether you’re playing at a real casino, live casino or online casino, the gameplay might look a little different, but the steps and rules are the same.
|Join the blackjack table and place your stake. Remember to check the table's betting limits.
|Two cards are dealt to each player, facing up. The dealer's hand also gets two cards, but one is dealt face down.
|Each player must count the value of their hand and decide whether they want to take another card (hit)
or keep their initial cards (stand). It might also be possible to split or double down at this stage.
|Once every player has taken their turn, the dealer reveals their card.
|The winner is determined by who got closer to 21. You win the game if your hand has a higher value than the dealer's hand.
|If you bust or the dealer's hand is higher, you lose that round.
|The game ends, and the dealer begins accepting bets for the next game.
You need to know these basic steps and the official rules of blackjack to play any online game. Some more specific rules, such as the blackjack split rules, may vary because there are many variants of the classic blackjack game. This is why it’s always important to check the blackjack rules and payout table before playing a game.
For now, though, let’s get into further detail about each hand in blackjack and all the possible actions you can take during the game. Remember, your decision to hit, stand, or do anything else with your hand will greatly affect the outcome, so it’s necessary to carefully understand the blackjack card rules before deciding.
The player’s hand is made up of the two cards dealt by the dealer at the start of the game and any additional card they might take after the initial deal. According to the blackjack rules, every player must take their turn before the dealer can play their hand.
The first player to the dealer’s left starts playing their hand, and the rest of their players take their turn after each other.
To play your hand, you’ll first need to count your cards to get the total value of your hand. To do this, you’ll need to know blackjack rules card values. In case you’re unfamiliar with these, we’ve explained them further in this guide.
In the following sections, you can learn more about each of the possible actions you can take when dealt your first two cards. Remember, your goal in blackjack is always to beat the dealer rather than the rest of the players. Unlike poker, where you compete against other players to get the best hand, you don’t need to pay any attention to your fellow players in this game, and whatever they do with their hand won’t affect yours.
In fact, there can be more than one winner in this game. If two players beat the dealer by getting a higher hand, they both win and get a payout, so you’re not competing for a single prize in the game.
You can stand if you’re happy with your initial cards and think you have a strong hand. The dealer won’t add any cards to your hand, and they’ll move on to the next player instead.
Hitting refers to taking additional cards from the dealer, which is usually done if you have a low hand value or a weak hand that can potentially be improved by adding more cards. You can keep hitting as many times as you like unless you go over 21 (bust) or until you decide to stand. There’s no official limit to the number of additional cards you can take.
Like hitting, doubling down also means you get an additional card, but you must double your initial stake by placing another bet equal to it. According to the blackjack double down rules, you can only get one additional card from the dealer.
If you’re dealt a weak hand that you know you’re more than likely to lose, you might have the option to surrender your hand. In return, you get back half of your initial stake, and you’ll be out for that round. It’s important to note that not all blackjack betting rules allow you to surrender. In that case, you can consult your basic strategy chart to see how to play a tricky hand if you can’t surrender it.
Splitting is an action that can be taken when dealt certain pairs. A pair is made up of any two cards with the same value, and in most games, you can split any pair of cards. If you decide to split a pair, the dealer will add one card to each new hand. Split pairs are played as two separate hands. Like doubling down, you’ll need to place another wager equal to your initial one on the new hand.
These are all the actions you can take with your hand to get as close to a score of 21 as you can and have a chance to beat the dealer. As for the dealer, the blackjack dealer rules are different from the player rules because it’s not up to them to decide which actions to take. The dealer must follow the house rules for hitting and standing, while splitting, doubling, or surrendering aren’t possible options.
Blackjack Card Values
The blackjack card values you need to know about are the values of the face cards and the Ace, as the rest have the same score as their face value.
The face cards are the Jack, Queen, and King (the Joker isn’t used in blackjack), which are all worth a score of 10, regardless of their suit or colour. In blackjack, you don’t have to worry about learning about suits because they make no difference (except in specific side bets).
You’ll also want to know the Blackjack Ace rules because this particular card can be valued either as a one or an 11. The value of this card is decided by which score is best for the current hand. For example, if valuing the Ace as an 11 will cause you to bust, it can be valued as a one.
Before playing blackjack in a real casino or even live blackjack, which is quite fast-paced, we suggest memorising the card values summarised below:
|1 or 11
Blackjack Side Bets
Blackjack side bets are additional bets that can be placed in addition to your additional blackjack wager for a chance to win different payouts available in the game, possibly alongside a regular blackjack payout.
Side bets are entirely optional, so if you want to keep the game simpler, you can stick to your original bet and play the game with this wager alone. However, if you’re interested in trying out a side bet, you can learn more about the most popular ones in the next sections:
The insurance bet is the most common side bet, offered at most casinos on every online or live blackjack table and the only one that can’t be placed at the start of the game. The dealer offers the insurance bet if their face-up card is an Ace.
Players can take insurance before the dealer's hole card is revealed to protect their bet if the dealer gets a blackjack when they show their card. The insurance bet requires a wager equal to half of your original one. If the dealer gets a blackjack when they reveal their card and you’ve taken the insurance bet, you’ll get a payout of 2:1. Since you would have placed a bet worth half of your initial stake to take insurance, you’ll break even with the payout.
If the dealer doesn’t get a blackjack, you lose your bet and don’t get a payout either. Insurance might sound like a safe bet worth taking, but if you look at any basic blackjack strategy chart or read tips from expert blackjack players, you’ll see that the general advice is to avoid taking insurance. The reason is that simply because the dealer has an Ace, it doesn’t mean they will get a blackjack. In fact, it’s impossible to predict the likelihood of the dealer revealing a 10-value card, so we recommend avoiding it as it’s usually a losing bet in the long run.
The Perfect Pairs side bet is an optional bet that can be placed in addition to your original bet, and it’s a bet that your first two cards will form one of the following three pair types:
- Mixed Pair - A pair of cards with the same rank but different colours. The payout for this pair is 5:1.
- Coloured Pair - Two cards with the same rank and colour, worth a payout of 10:1.
- Perfect Pair - A pair with the same rank and suit, paying 30:1 in most blackjack games.
The 21+3 side bet is a bet that your cards and the dealer’s visible card will form a valid poker hand. In other words, it’s a lot like a three-card poker game played between you and the dealer alongside the regular blackjack game. This bet is placed at the beginning of the game with the original bet. To win, the three cards need to form one of the following poker hands:
- Flush - Three cards of the same suit, paying 5:1.
- Straight - Three cards in consecutive order and of any suit, worth a payout of 10:1.
- Three of a Kind - A hand made up of three cards with the same value, such as three Queens. The payout is usually 30:1.
- Straight Flush - A Straight Flush is a combination of three cards with numbers in consecutive orders and the same suit as well. The payout for this hand is 40:1.
- Suited Three of a Kind - The strongest and rarest poker hand made up of three cards with the same suit and value, worth a payout of 100:1.
Blackjack Basic Strategy
Further above, we discussed all the possible moves you can take in any blackjack game, including hitting, standing, splitting, etc. These decisions should never be made randomly because they will affect your chances of winning.
This is where basic blackjack strategy comes in. Basic strategy is a blackjack rules chart for how to play each hand, based on the dealer’s upcard.
Basic strategy is considered the best way to play blackjack in terms of winning odds. While it’s definitely not a foolproof strategy to beat the dealer every time, it will give you a small statistical advantage in the game if used right.
This strategy is based on your first two cards combined with the dealer’s upcard and presented in the form of a chart which can be referred to when your cards are dealt. You can memorise basic strategy if you want to quicken the pace of your game, but this will take some time to master and plenty of practice to get right too.
It’s important to note that basic strategy isn’t just based on the value of your hand and the dealer’s; it also considers whether the hand is soft or hard. A soft hand is one made up of an Ace and any other card, which means the score of that hand is flexible and, therefore, can be played differently. On the contrary, a hard hand is one without an Ace, which means its value is fixed.
Blackjack payouts are simple to understand because there aren’t many, especially if you focus on the original blackjack wager without any side bets like the insurance of Perfect Pairs. There are three ways you can win a blackjack game, described below:
- The dealer busts – If the dealer goes over 21 when revealing their card, they bust and automatically lose. Any player that didn’t bust before the dealer will win a payout of 1:1, which means you get even money.
- The dealer has a lower hand value – If your hand is higher than the dealer’s (but not over 21), you also win even money regardless of the actual score. For example, you win if your hand is worth 20 and the dealer has a 17.
- You get a natural blackjack – If you’re dealt an Ace and a 10 as your first cards, you automatically win the game. This is known as a natural blackjack and pays 3:2 or 1.5x your stake. Aside from side bet payouts, it’s also the highest payout you can get in the game.
Blackjack Rule Variations
So far, we’ve gone over all the basic blackjack rules UK game variants follow, but as you may know, blackjack comes in many different forms. This means you might encounter different blackjack rules table variations, such as the following:
Re-Splitting Aces (RSA)
Most casinos and European blackjack rules allow you to split Aces after you’ve already split them into two separate hands if you’ve received another Ace when splitting. You can split your third hand to get a total of four hands. This is usually the maximum allowed.
Doubling After Splitting (DAS)
Doubling down after splitting a hand isn’t always allowed, so it’s important to check the blackjack rules beforehand because this rule works for you if done on the right hand. Some blackjack games don’t allow you to double once you’ve split.
Early surrender is a rule that allows you to surrender your hand before the dealer reveals their card or offers insurance, but it’s not very common nowadays. This rule allows you to surrender and keep half of your stake even if the dealer gets a blackjack.
FAQs About Blackjack Rules
1. What Are the Basic Rules of Blackjack?
According to the basic blackjack rules, the dealer must deal two cards to every player at the table and two to themselves after bets have been made. The players’ cards are dealt face-up on the table while the dealer leaves one of their cards facing down. Once every player has taken their turn to play their hand, the dealer reveals their face down card and the winner is determined. If you beat the dealer, you get a payout, and the next round begins.
2. What Are the Rules For 21 Card Game?
The rules for the 21-card game are exactly the same as the blackjack rules. First, bets are placed, cards are dealt, and players play their hand before the dealer. Any player who beats the dealer by getting a higher score without busting will earn a payout.
3. How to win at Blackjack?
4. Is Blackjack the Same as 21?
Yes. Blackjack and 21 refer to the same casino game.
5. Is Blackjack an Easy Game?
This depends on your skill and experience levels. If you’re completing new to card games like blackjack, it will take you some time to learn the rules to play blackjack, the card values, and to master basic strategy. If you have a solid understanding of all the rules and strategies, blackjack is a relatively easy game to play if you follow basic strategy.