The first thing you need when playing Blackjack is some basic counting skills. This is because the game of Blackjack is based around the idea that cards keep getting dealt until somebody has come as close to 21 as possible without going over.

Now lets take a look at how this game is played under casino circumstances. First of all, pay no attention to the players around you. You are only playing against the dealer. His cards and your cards are the only ones you need to worry about (unless you are card counting, than you will need to be aware of what the other players have been dealt). The cards that you are dealt are each assigned a value. These values are as follows:

  1. 10s, Jacks, Queens, and Kings all have a value of 10.
  2. The value of cards 2 through 9 simply have the value of the number on the card.
  3. Aces can either have a value of 1 or a value of 11. This depends on how the player wants to use their Ace.

meaningless. Players will simply add the value of their cards and arrive at a number that is as close to 21 as possible. The winner of the game is the person who’s hand is the closest (or exactly) 21.

Once everyone has 2 cards, the dealer will ask whether or not the players would like to get another card – “hit” – or stay with what they have – “stay”. The dealer will have two cards: one face up and one face down.

The best hand to have is a Blackjack (hence the name of the game). A Blackjack consists of a 10, Jack, Queen, or King combined with an Ace. In this case the value of the Ace is 11 and the other card is valued at 10. If a player is holding a Blackjack, this hand is the automatic winner. Even if the dealer comes up with cards that total 21, the Blackjack still wins. The exception to this rule is if the dealer also has a blackjack, than the game is a tie and you start all over again. If the dealer’s total or your total exceeds 21 the hand is a bust and the player loses.

When you have an Ace valued as an 11, the total is called “soft”. For instance, a 5 and an Ace is a soft 16. Any other combination without an Ace representing an 11 is called a hard number. For instance, a 7 and a 10 is a hard 17.

Doubling Down

Players are allowed to Double Down. When a player doubles down, he has determined that he has a favorable position and the dealer does not. The player will place down another bet of equal value to the initial bet. He is now allowed to only hit one time. If you double down and the one card you draw is a low card you are in bad shape.
Different games have different rules regarding when a player is allowed to double down. Some allow it with any cards. Some allow it with only 9, 10 and 11. And some casinos only allow 10 and 11.


When a player is dealt two of the same card, as in two 8’s, they are allowed to split the two cards into two different hands and essentially play two games of Blackjack at once.


It is only very rarely that a player even has the insurance option. Only when the dealer’s face up card is an ace, it is offered. The premise of insurance is that if the dealer’s other card is a ten-value card, and he has blackjack, you don’t lose your bet. You can buy insurance for half of whatever your initial bet was. Experts agree that insurance is generally a bad idea. If you are counting the cards, it might be in your better interest.


Some game offer the ability to surrender your hand before making any play decisions for half the cost of your bet. If you have a bad looking hand and the dealer has an ace showing, for instance, you might decide to surrender. You could fold your hand and pay 5 to get your 10 back if your original bet had been 10. There are two different versions of surrender, early and late. If the game offers early surrender, the player must decide whether or not they would like to surrender the cards before the dealer checks to see if he has blackjack. In late surrender, the player may surrender even if the dealer has blackjack.


For those of you that just can’t wait anymore and want strategy right here and now, we will break down the gist of the “Blackjack Strategy Engine’s” output. This is going to be short and sweet so pay attention: You always want to hit until 17 if the dealer is showing a 7 or higher.