How to play Blackjack | Blackjack Rules | LeoVegas NZ

How to play Blackjack: Beginners Guide


Blackjack is a very popular game that is played in casinos and amongst friends all over the world. There are a few variations of the game played in different countries, but by far the most popular is a version of ‘21’ that became Blackjack. It can now be played in an online casino or on an app via a smart device, which means this card game has a whole new audience to appeal to.

In this guide, we’ll take a look at the basic rules of Blackjack, explain the card values, and describe the gameplay in more detail.


Table of Contents

How to play blackjack step by step?

  1. Place a blackjack wager (also known as an original bet or initial wager).
  2. The dealer deals two cards to players and two to himself (one card is face up, another is face down card).
  3. The Player decides whether to stand, hit, double down, split or surrender.
  4. The dealer also acts and must hit on 16 or less.
  5. The player wins if their hand total is higher or if the dealer busts (total exceeds 21 points)
  6. The player loses if the total is lower than the dealer's or exceeds 21.
  7. If the total of players and the dealer's hands is the same value, it is called push (or tie) and the player retains his initial bet.

Blackjack Rules

The standard rules of Blackjack are very straightforward and once you get the hang of them, you’ll realise what an exciting game it is to play. The aim is to make 21 with your cards, or as close to as possible, to beat the dealer.

You’ll start with a dealer asking you to place your bets. One at a time, the dealer will then deal two cards face up to each player, and two to themselves, one face up and one face down.

All card numbers are worth their face value in Blackjack, except for picture cards which are worth 10, and an Ace, which can count as either 1 or 11. Once you have seen your cards you have to decide whether to stand, hit, surrender, double down, or split.

The dealer will act last but must hit on a total of 16 or less from his two cards or stand on 17 to 21. A player wins if they hit Blackjack straight away (a 10/picture card and an Ace), or when their hand total is higher than the dealer’s hand but still under 21.

However, if the dealer is forced to hit and busts, i.e., goes over 21, the player will also win. Players will lose their bet if they bust, or if their hand total is less than the dealer’s total. If a player and the dealer total have the same scoring hand, also known as a tie or push, the player will retain their bet.

Blackjack card values

All cards count as their face value in Blackjack, i.e., a 4 is worth 4, and a 10 is worth 10. However, picture cards, such as the Jack, Queen, and King, also count as 10. The Ace is slightly different again as it has two values and can be counted as a 1 or an 11.

The total sum of any hand is made up using the values of each card. For example, an opening hand of 5 and 7 will total 12, but if you hit and get an 8, you will have a hand of 20. Or an opening hand of Queen and 3 will total 13.

It is always presumed that an Ace counts as 11, unless having it would bust your hand, in which case it would revert to a value of 1.

The suit of a card has no relevance in Blackjack.

Blackjack hands

Sometimes you might hear a player’s dealt hand as being a ‘soft’ hand or a ‘hard’ hand. If at the start of a game a player is dealt an Ace amongst their opening hand, the player is believed to have a soft hand. This is because the Ace value can be 1 or 11, so they can be more flexible with how they play. For example, if you are dealt an Ace and a 7, you can either have 8 or 18.

Whereas a hard hand means there is an absence of an Ace, so the hand is more rigid and offers the player less choices to play with.

How Many Decks of Cards Is Blackjack Played With?

It is thought that in the 17th century, the game of blackjack was played with a single deck of 52 cards. However, blackjack has gone a long way since then, and there are now several variations on the market, with the majority having as many as 8 decks of cards.There are also double deck blackjack variants. A neater game is to be expected in a single-deck form, but the opportunities to split your hand are larger in multiple-deck variants.

Human shufflers rotate the tables and shuffle the cards at the majority of our live blackjack tables, but a small number of tables utilise a shuffling machine at the start of each game. The cards are then shuffled and placed in the shoe.

Blackjack table layout

Blackjack is commonly played on a semi-circular shaped table that can accommodate a certain number of players depending on its size. Most commonly, tables will accommodate up to 7 players with the dealer standing behind the table and the chip rack.

Blackjack Table Layout

The players face the dealer and in front of them have a square where their cards are dealt, and from where they can indicate whether they wish to split or double their cards from. There will often be other markers on the table that the players can put chips down on to try to take advantage of the blackjack side bets on offer that come with bigger payouts.

Blackjack actions

In Blackjack there are many actions, or plays, you can do to try to beat the dealer, or enhance the amount of money you could win. Here, we look at some of the plays you can action to improve your chances of winning big.

Hit – if you want more cards to improve your hand, you can ‘hit’, which means ask the dealer for more cards, until you choose to stand or you have gone over 21 and you are bust.

Stand – this is when you are happy with the hand you have and think it can beat the dealer. Choose to stand and the dealer will move on to the next player.

Split – if you are dealt two cards of the same value, i.e., a pair or a King/Jack, you have the option to split. This does incur a second wager of the same amount as your first bet, but the dealer will then make two separate hands, potentially doubling your chances of winning.

Double Down – you could play this action if you have an initial hand that you think can beat the dealer with an extra card. You simply double your initial stake, and the dealer will give you one more card.

Surrender – if you do not think your initial hand is good, you can surrender it for half the stake you put on.

Insurance/Even Money – this is a side bet offered to you when the dealer’s initial card that faces up is an Ace. Before anyone plays their hand, the dealer will offer insurance, or even money, if you have Blackjack.

Blackjack Hand Signals

Despite the impression given by certain popular culture sources, players cannot simply choose how they communicate with the dealer and fellow table users during a blackjack game. A prescribed set of agreed hand signals are in place to portray the instruction the player wants to issue. When hitting, players must scratch the surface of the playing table when their index finger. To stand, players should wave their hand across their personal card set. To double down, pick up the correct amount of chips, place them next to your original wager, and then point with one finger. To split, do the same but point with two fingers in a V shape.

Blackjack Dealer Rules

The dealer in blackjack has no alternatives when playing blackjack game, unlike the players. According to casino rules, a dealer must draw if their hand totals less than 17 and stand if it is between 17 and 21. Dealers must either hit or stand on a soft 17. The player will benefit more if the dealer stands on a soft 17.

Blackjack odds and payouts

Hitting the perfect 21 with your two dealt cards is not only a thrill, it is also the best return you can get from two cards at a pay out of 3:2. For all other hands that beat the dealer you will be paid out at evens money, or 1:1.

However, there are many blackjack side bets you can play that come at a higher risk of not winning, but carry much more generous odds. To win on a side bet, you need to stake some money on the appropriate offers and their pay outs and odds are as follows:

  • Perfect pairs – 25:1 with odds to win of 3.98% Same colour pairs
  • 12:1 with odds to win of 8.26%
  • Mixed pairs – 6:1 with odds to win of 16.39%
  • Suited trips – 100:1 with odds to win of 1.00%
  • Straight flush – 40:1 with odds to win of 2.49%
  • Three of a kind – 30:1 with odds to win of 3.32%
  • Straight – 10:1 with odds to win of 9.90%
  • Flush – 5:1 with odds to win of 19.61%

Blackjack house edge

The Blackjack house edge refers to the chances a player has of winning against a casino or the ‘house’. With a standard Blackjack house edge considered to be around 2%, it makes it one of the lowest house edges compared to other casino games.

The 2% figures implies that an average player will lose $2 for every $100 bet, which is not bad at all.

What is blackjack basic strategy?

The blackjack basic strategy, which is applicable to all types of blackjack games, employs a theoretical model to demonstrate all potential card combinations and indicate the best method to play every single hand that might possibly come up in a game of blackjack.

Essentially, it is the solution to countless minutes wasted debating whether to hit, stand, split, or double down!

Why play Blackjack?

Not only is Blackjack an enjoyable parttime, it is also a really sociable game to play. You can be sat at a table with friends or strangers, but you all have the same goal, to beat the dealer, which makes for an entertaining experience. This carries through to online blackjack games too.

There is also an element of skill involved, rather than luck in some casino games. Although you don’t have control of the cards you are dealt, you are in control in what you do with them, so the skill of decision-making is tested.

Blackjack Rules FAQ

How can I win in blackjack?

Learning the basic blackjack strategy will give you the best chance of winning. Other strategies for more advanced players include counting cards in a blackjack game.

What is a soft 17 in blackjack?

A soft 17 is an Ace and a 6.

What is an insurance bet in blackjack games?

You can place a separate wager on the insurance line if the dealer's opening card is an Ace. If the Dealer draws a 10 count card to their Ace, you win. If the Dealer draws any other card, you lose. A successful insurance wager returns 2 to 1.

Should I use insurance in blackjack?

You can use the insurance if the dealer hits an Ace in his first two cards.

Does a blackjack dealer have to hit on 15?

Yes, the dealer must continue to hit on 16 or less.

What happens if both player and dealer get 21?

If both the player and the dealer get 21, it is called a tie or push, and the original bet is returned to the player.

What happens if you get 5 cards under 21 in blackjack?

Also known as 5-Card Charlie, this rule suggests that you automatically win if you draw 5 cards to a hand without exceeding 21. However, it does not apply to online blackjack games.

Do dealers count ace 1 or 11?

Aces count as 11 if they don't bust the dealer's hand. Next aces are counted as 1.

Do you win blackjack if you tie the dealer?

No, in case of the tie, you receive back your original bet.

What to do with 2 aces in blackjack?

The most common action in such cases is to split aces into two hands.

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