The basic idea of the game of blackjack is to beat the dealer. The winner is whoever has a hand closest to a total of 21. You reach 21 by adding up the values of the cards. You bust and lose automatically when your cards total more than 21. A regular Blackjack table seats about 6 players. Usually six or eight decks of cards are shuffled together by the dealer and placed in a shoe (card dispensing box).

Before receiving any cards players must place a bet.
The players are then dealt two cards face up.
The dealer deals themself one card, face up and another face down.
Each player in turn chooses to either stay or take more cards to try and get their hand closer to 21 without busting.
Players who do not bust wait for the dealer's turn.
When all the players are done, the dealer turns over the face down card to reveal their total.
When playing standard rules, on a total of 17 or higher, the dealer must stay; on a total of 16 or lower the dealer must draw another card.

If a player makes a total of 21 with their first two cards (a 10 or a face and an Ace), they win automatically. This is called 'Blackjack'.
If a player has Blackjack they will win 1.5 times their bet unless the dealer also has Blackjack, in this case it is called a "Push" or "Tie" (Stand-off) and the player get thier bet back.

Any remaining players with a higher total than the dealer (but 21 or less) win an equal amount to their bet.
Players with a total lower than the dealer lose their bet.
If the dealer busts then all the remaining players win.

There are other betting options namely Insurance, Surrender, Double Down, Even Money and Split.

Insurance: side bet up to half the initial bet against the dealer having a natural 21 - allowed only when the dealer's showing card is an Ace. If the dealer has a 10 face down and makes a blackjack, insurance pays at 2-1 odds, but loses if the dealer does not.

Surrender: giving up your hand and lose only half the bet.

Early Surrender: surrender allowed before the dealer checks for blackjack.

Late Surrender: the dealer first checks to see if he has blackjack. If he does, surrender is not permitted.

Double Down: double your initial bet following the initial two-card deal, but you can hit one card only. A good bet if the player is in a strong situation. Most casinos will allow you to double down on any two cards. Some casinos will let you double down after splitting and some will limit your doubling down to hands that total ten or eleven. However, there is one condition: When you double down, you must take one additional card and you cannot receive more than one.

Even Money: cashing in your bet immediately at a 1:1 payout ratio when you are dealt a natural blackjack and the dealer's showing card is an Ace.

Split Hand: split the initial two-card hand into two and play them separately - allowed only when the two first cards are of equal value. Use each card as the start to a separate hand and place a second bet equal to the first.

Hard Hand: A hand without an Ace, or with an Ace valued at 1 is said to be Hard in that it can only be given one value, unlike a Soft Hand. (You can value an Ace 1 or 11 to suit you).

Soft Hand: A hand that contains an Ace counted as 11 is called a Soft Hand.


  • The object of Blackjack is to accumulate cards with a combined total as close to 21 as possible but without going over 21.
  • Jacks, Queens and Kings (face cards) are all worth 10 points. Aces are worth 1 or 11, whichever is preferable at the time of playing. Other cards are represented by their number.
  • If the player and the dealer tie, it is a push and no one wins.
  • Ace and 10 on the first two cards dealt (Blackjack) is an automatic player win at 1.5 to 1, unless the dealer ties.
  • A player may stand at any time.

Blackjack variations
  • Using different number of decks: all other conditions being the same, as a general rule the fewer the decks, the better for the player.
  • Allowing the dealer to hit a soft 17: a disadvantage to the player. It gives the dealer a chance to improve.
  • Allowing a double down after splitting pairs: can be advantageous to the player if used wisely.
  • Allowing re-splitting of Aces: a clear advantage to the player.
  • No dealer hole card: common on cruise ships, this variation is a disadvantage to the player. The dealer does not deal himself a second card until the players have played and they can lose the doubles and splits.

Las Vegas and Atlantic City variations

Las Vegas blackjack:
Las Vegas games are played with two decks and the House must hit on hands less than soft 17 (17 involving an Ace) and must stand on hands of 17 or greater.

Atlantic City blackjack:
Atlantic City games are played with four decks and the House must hit on 16 and stand all 17's.

Perfect Pairs blackjack

Perfect Pairs is a blackjack side bet. It can be played on a standard blackjack table and does not require the main game rules to be changed. All Perfect Pairs wagers are decided and dealt with at the completion of the initial deal.

Perfect Pairs bets are made prior to any cards being dealt and must be supported by a regular Blackjack bet on the same betting box. A Perfect Pairs bet wins if the first two cards dealt to a players Blackjack hand are a pair and it loses if they are not a pair.

There are 3 different types of pairs and the payout odds vary accordingly:

Mixed pair (A pair that is made up of 1 red suited card and 1 black suited card - example 2 of clubs + 2 of hearts) Coloured pair (A pair that is made up of 2 same cards of the same colour but are of different suits - example 6 of clubs + 6 of spades) example 8 of spades + 8 of clubs) Perfect pair (An identical pair - example K of diamonds + K of diamonds)

Perfect Pairs rules

A player may place a Perfect Pairs wager on any box on which the player has placed a Blackjack wager
A Perfect Pairs wager must be placed before any cards in the round of play are dealt
A Perfect Pairs wager wins if the first 2 cards dealt to the player are a pair
A Perfect Pairs wager loses if the first 2 cards dealt to the player are not a pair
Winning Perfect Pairs wagers must be paid as per the displayed paytable
After each player has been dealt the first 2 cards, the dealer must take all losing Perfect Pairs wagers and make a payout to each player who has a winning Perfect Pairs wager
The dealer then goes on to deal with each player in the usual way for Blackjack

Perfect Pairs payouts
  • Perfect Pair pays 30 to 1
  • Coloured Pair pays 10 to 1
  • Mixed Pair pays 5 to 1
  • The house edge on Perfect Pairs blackjack side bet is 6.76%.