Click here to see a video:

"It can be argued that man's instinct to gamble is the only reason he is still not a monkey up in the trees."
-Mario Puzo, Inside Las Vegas

Visit the Video Cabaret for Gambling Tips, music videos and comedy clips.

Subscribe via RSS


How Do You Play Blackjack?

Blackjack is one of the easier gambling casino card games to learn and play. This introduction provides  how-to instructions for beginning and medium level casino blackjack players. Visit Rivers Casino Blackjack for more information on Blackjack at the Rivers Casino.

Blackjack is a card game where all players are pitted against the dealer. The object of blackjack games is to achieve a hand that is worth more than the dealer’s hand, without breaking a total of 21.

In blackjack, the dealer has an advantage because one of his cards is not exposed. Also, because the dealer owns a statistical edge in hands that tie, players face an uphill climb to come out ahead. Applying a few simple strategies will help you lower the house edge to as little as 1%. For advanced players, counting cards is a great skill to learn.

Blackjack Card Values

The value of a player’s hand in blackjack games is determined by adding the value of each of your cards. Face cards (Jack, Queen and King) are worth 10. Cards 2 through 10 retain their face values. Aces are worth either 1 or 11—whichever value results in the better hand.


A hand of Ace and any 10-value card with the original two cards is called blackjack; it pays 3 to 2 (win $15 on a $10 bet).

Blackjack Game Play

Players place a wager. The dealer then waves a hand over the table, closing all bets. Once the first card is placed on the table, al original bets must remain the same until the conclusion of the hand. Two cards are dealt face-up to each player, and two cards (one face-up, one face-down) are placed in front of the dealer. The card dealt face-down is known as the dealer hole card.

After it has been established that the dealer does not have blackjack, the players in turn may play their hands. The following options are available.

Stand: One option is stand pat and make no changes.

Hit: If you want to add cards to your hand, you can take a hit. You can continue to hit until you reach or go over 21.

Double: If you need one and only one more card, then you can double your bet and be dealt one more card, good or bad. This option is only offered on the first two cards, and sometimes on the first two cards after splitting.

Split: If your first two cards are of equal point value you may split them into two hands. In this event each card is the first card of a new hand. The player must also make another wager, of equal value to the first wager, for the second hand.

Surrender: Surrender gives a player the option to fold at the cost of half of their original bet. A player must surrender at the beginning of the hand, before the dealer checks his cards for blackjack. Surrendering is a good move for a player only if they are sure they are going to lose.

Taking Insurance in Blackjack

Insurance can be played when the blackjack dealer has an up-card of Ace. In an insurance bet, you may bet up to half of your original bet. Following an insurance bet, the dealer checks his face-down card to see if he has blackjack. If he does have blackjack then you receive a 2:1 payout on your insurance bet, meaning that even if you lose your initial bet you break even.

Blackjack Dealer Restrictions

In blackjack, players can play their hands without restrictions. The rules are different for the dealer. These rules are as follows:

  • When the dealer’s hand is worth a total of 16 or less, he or she must draw additional cards until reaching a total between 17 and 21, or busts by breaking 21.
  • If the dealer’s hand is worth 17 or higher then he or she must stand.

Blackjack End Game

Once all players complete their hands, the dealer reveals the hole card, placing both cards face-up. If the dealer hits to a total of hard 17 or better, hands closer to 21 than the dealer win. Hands totaling less than the dealer lose.

If the dealer and player have the same total, the result is a push: no one wins, no one loses. The player loses if the dealer has blackjack and the player has a total of 21, which is not blackjack.

Blackjack Tips

Here are some basic tips to help the beginning player:

  • If your first two cards total 16 or lower, hit.
  • If your first two cards total 10 or 11, double down.
  • If your first two cards total 17 or higher, stand.

Another tip involves “card counting,” where you basically remember the cards that have been played so you can predict which cards are likely to come up next. Counting cards in blackjack is a skill that takes time to learn, but can be very valuable.

When there are more high cards in the deck the player has an advantage, and therefore should place a higher bet. When there are more low cards in the deck the dealer is at an advantage, and the player should place a lower bet.

Books on How to Play Blackjack

The Beginners Guide To Dominating Blackjack: Little-Known Blackjack Secrets Casinos Don’t Want You To Know About! by Randall Magwood (Kindle Edition – Jun 16, 2009) – Kindle eBook

Blackjack for the Clueless: A Beginner’s Guide to Playing and Winning (The Clueless Guides) by Walter Thomason (Paperback – Dec 1, 2000)

Free Online Blackjack Web Sites

  1. Hit or Stand – Blackjack Strategy Game & Trainer
  2. Blackjack Strategy and Odds – The Wizard of Odds
  3. Blackjack – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  4. Blackjack Strategy – Blackjack Basic Strategy
  5. Blackjack Strategy –