Blackjack General Information

What is Blackjack?

Blackjack is one of the most popular casino games in the world, and with good reason. Combining simple rules with player input, this is a game which offers a fantastic mix of strategy and enjoyment. The general game can come in a multitude of forms, but usually most of these follow a standardised rule structure which is based on the highest possible score of 21. Specifically, the blackjack refers to a score of 21 made by 2 cards, an Ace and a ten-point card. Keep reading to find these rules listed below in the Basic Rules section.

Blackjack standard game table

An example of live casino blackjack.

Basic Rules for Standard Blackjack

Betting and First Deals

Starting a game of blackjack requires from one to 8 standard 52 card decks. Multiple decks are especially important in blackjack because of the prevalence of card counting, which is considered cheating. The more decks which are included the more difficult and unreliable counting becomes.

  • In this game Aces are counted as either 1 or 11 points.
  • Tens and face-cards are all worth ten points.
  • All other cards are worth their displayed number value.

The value of a hand is the total sum of the card values. For example:

  •  10 and 5 would be 15.
  • Queen and Ace would be 21 (also a blackjack).
  • 10, 5 and Ace would be 16. This is because, while the player has an Ace, the higher possible score of ace (11) would go over the 21 limit so the smaller number is used.

The game starts with a round of betting, where the players all place their wagers against the dealer. All bets are against the dealer, not the other players.

Once bets are placed the players are all dealt two cards, including the dealer. One of the dealer's card is placed face-up. One of the player's cards are dealt face-up, the other is kept to the player them-self. This hidden card is called the hole card.


If the dealer has an Ace they can offer what is called insurance. When this happens the dealer offers a side bet which pays 2-1 if the dealer's hole card is any 10-point card. The bet for this insurance cannot exceed half of the player's original bet.

In the case that the dealer has a ten-point card or an Ace face-up (after insurance) they will then check their hole card. If their hole card gives them a blackjack then the dealer flips it over. When this happens the dealer will automatically wins and all player bets are lost, unless:

  • A player bought insurance
  • A player also hits a blackjack, which leads to a push. When this happens the player has their bet returned to them.

Continued Play and Choices

If the dealer doesn't win then we continue. As is standard, action begins with the player to the dealer's left. Here, the players are given five options:

  • Hit. When this is chosen the player can draw more cards until they hit or exceed 21 total points. If more points than 21 are gained then the player loses. This is also called busting or breaking.
  • Stand. When this is chosen the player receives no additional cards.
  • Surrender. When this is chosen the player loses half of their total bet and ends their round. This is only possible in some casino's, and not after the first two cards have been dealt.
  • Double. When this is chosen the player doubles their original bet and is given a single new card. No more cards may be requested.
  • Split. When the player has either a pair or 2 ten-point cards they can split. This causes the cards to be separated (split) into two new hands, each with double their initial bet. The player is then dealt a card to each of these new hands. These hands are treated as standard, also being able to hit, stand, surrender, double or split. When a player splits Aces, however, they are only given a maximum of one card. Usually there is a maximum of four hands created by a split. Gaining a blackjack on these split-hands does not count as a blackjack, merely as a 21 point hand.

Final Phase

Once all of the players have had their turn the player will reveal their hole card.

  • If the dealer has 16 points or less they will draw again. When the dealer has an Ace plus a number card totalling six points they can also draw again, in some casinos.
  • When the dealer has over 21 points they bust. In this scenario all players who didn't bust are winners.
  • If the dealer does not bust then the winner will be determined per player. When this happens all players have their score measured against the dealer. Anyone who beats the dealers score without going over 21 wins.

Important Poker Information

House edge in blackjack sits a lot lower than it does for many games. The exact number of this depends on the player strategy. Basic strategy puts the house edge at an incredibly low 1%, though many people will attempt to generate their own strategies. The house edge increased for each new deck which is added into play.

History of Blackjack

As seems to be the case with many gambling games, the origin of blackjack is not fully known. While it is presumed to have come from somewhere within the Roman Empire, we don't have any confirmed history until the 18th century. During this period a game in France was thought to be the first blackjack style game, and was based off a previous game around total scores.

It wasn't until the early 1800's that the game made its way to the USA. The real period of growth for this game was around 1931 when the legalisation of gambling in Nevada started the popularisation of the casino city of Las Vegas. This is where the official first form of modern blackjack was born. Since then, this game has been a mainstay at both casinos and home play.

Common Terminology

  • 86'd

When a  player is removed from a casino due to being suspected of card counting.

  • Basic Strategy

The simple strategy which is used to maximise player advantage. Can be easily displayed in grid-form.

  • Blackjack

The best possible hand in blackjack. For this to occur the player or dealer must have a 21 from an Ace and a ten-point card. Does not apply in split-play.

  • Bust

Having a greater total of points than 21. Also called breaking.

  • Card Counting

The act of mentally simplifying and recording the scores of the cards which have already be dealt. This is done so that the player can have a greater chance of predicting the future cards dealt. Considered cheating by casinos.

  • Double

Can be performed by the player after seeing their first cards. When this action is performed the player's bet is doubled and they receive only one new card.

  • Five Card Charlie

When a player manages to reach five cards in a single hand without busting. Sometimes this offers a greater payout.

  • Hard Hand

A hand where the player has a chance to bust if they choose to hit.

  • Hole Card

The cards which are dealt face-down.

  • Insurance

Can occur when the dealer shows an Ace. When this occurs the player's may place a bet which pays off if the dealer gets a blackjack.

  • Natural

When a player gains 21 after being given their first 2 cards it is called a natural. The same thing as a blackjack.

  • Pat

A blackjack hand worth at least 17 points which is not bust.

  • Push

When the player and dealer have the same total score.

  • Shoe

The device from which the cards are dealt.

  • Soft

A hand with an Ace, where the Ace is counted as 11 instead of 1.

  • Split

Can be performed if a player has 2 matching cards or card values. When this happens the cards are separated and counted as the start of 2 new hands.

  • Steaming

When a player has lost their cool and started to act in a way which is not conducive to good gambling. Effectively what is called going tilt in poker.

  • Stiff

This is a hand where the player may bust but drawing another card on a current point total of 12, 13 14, 15 or 16.

  • Upcard

The first of the dealer's cards which is displayed face-up.

Where to Play Blackjack

Blackjack is one of the most popular of all the gambling games on the internet, so if you have a favourite website then you should check around, you might find some already on offer. A list of just a few of the websites which currently offer pokies can also be found below.

Author: Steve Jackson

Pokie reviewer, casino reviewer, article writer and all around hilarious and humble Steve Jackson is one of the main writers here at With an interest in writing and games, Steve has worked for years as a freelance writer covering a wide variety of topics. From video-games to umbrella sales - the experience he has gained in his career, combined with his degree in psychology, help him cover what people want, and what they didn't know was important to them. Now together with, Steve and the rest of the staff work together to bring the reader a website which covers a wide range of gambling relating reviews and topics. From the standard pokie and casino reviews to tutorials on casino games and even fun stories on gambling relating topics, Steve has been first on the ground, helping shape the website into what it is, and what it will one day be. Despite knowing a great deal about gambling he has not yet won any major prize pools. If he did you could bet he would be bragging about them here.

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