Blackjack is the easiest casino card game to learn and play, which explains its popularity. If you can count to 21 and master a few simple rules, you can begin playing almost immediately. Once you're comfortable with the rules, you'll want to learn the "Basic Strategy," a time-tested, mathematically based strategy, and implement some of the techniques to raise your level of play. Casino rules vary among gambling establishments, both on the ground and in Cyberspace. The rules below include the most common, generally accepted rules. Always check the rules at each establishment before you begin play.
Object of the Game
The object of Blackjack is to reach a higher card count than the dealer without exceeding a total card count of 21. Regardless of the number of players at the table, your only opponent is the dealer.
Rules of Play
Different versions of Blackjack have slightly different rules, but generally, game play progresses as follows:
Each player places a bet for the next hand. The dealer deals the cards from dealer left to dealer right, with everyone receiving two cards. Usually, each player receives two cards face up, and the dealer receives one card face up and one card face down (called a hole card). When playing in a casino, you are not allowed to touch your cards if they are both dealt face up. Starting with the player to the dealer's left, each player decides whether to accept more cards (hit) or whether to refuse more cards (stand). Except as noted below in special circumstances, each player may continue to receive cards until his or her total card count exceeds 21 (bust). After each player completes his or her turn, the dealer takes a turn.
Dealer Rules of Play
The dealer plays by more restrictive rules than the players, usually as noted below. If the dealer's hand is 17 or more, the dealer must stand, or refuse to take another card. Under some rules, the dealer must hit on a soft 17, a hand that includes an Ace, but not always. If the dealer's hand is 16 or less, the dealer must hit, or take another card.
And the Winner Is
Remember that you play only against the dealer, so you need not keep track of your hand against the other player's hands. Compare your hand against the dealer's hand. The hand that comes closest to 21 without exceeding 21 wins. If you bust, the house automatically wins, even if the dealer subsequently busts. If the dealer busts and you don't, you win, regardless of the value of your hand.
Blackjack decks consist of one deck up to eight decks of cards. For purposes of this discussion, a deck refers to the entire set of cards, regardless of number of decks. Shuffling a Blackjack deck involves an entire ritual: