How To Play Blackjack
The object of Blackjack is for value of your hand to be closer to 21 than the dealer's without going over. Blackjack players compete only with the Blackjack dealer, not the other players. The only hands a player must then pay attention to are their own and the dealer's.
The Basics of Online Blackjack
Numerical cards have a value equal to the number stated on the card. Kings, queens, and jacks have a value of 10. Ace cards are special and have a value of 1 or eleven, the player's choice. The player does not have to designate a permanent value for aces, and may switch at any time to make a better score in their hand.
Suit does not matter when counting cards, only the point value. Add the point values of all cards in a hand to determine the value of the hand. So long as the hand does not exceed 21 and is higher than the dealers, it wins.
Procedure of Play
Play generally proceeds clockwise around the table, focusing on each player individually. The player plays their hand to completion and the dealer proceeds to the next player, who plays their hand to completion and so-on until the dealer gets back to themselves. The dealer plays their hand to completion and pays out or collects accordingly
The dealer has no control over how they play their hand. The dealer deals one card face down and the second face up. If the total value is below 16 or below, they must hit, while a value of 17 or higher means the dealer must stay.
A player looks at their cards and decides how they want to play it. The first option is surrender, where the player folds and only loses half of their bet. Surrenders can only occur if no other choice has occurred first, and can happen before or after the dealer checks for a blackjack.
Hitting is asking the dealer for another card. Players are free to hit as many times as they like, until they breach 21, ending the hand. Add the value of the additional card or cards to the cards already in your hand.
If the player does not wish for an additional card, they may stand. Once a player stands, the dealer moves on to the next player. A player who stands cannot get any more card or place anymore bets.
If the player has not hit yet, they may double down. Doubling down allows the player to increase the bet up to double the original bet and grants the player a single additional card. Doubling down prohibits any further choices, as the dealer gives the player another card and the player is then after considered "stood."
If you are dealt two of the same valued card, including different cards that both are worth ten, you are entitled to a option to split. When the players splits, they place an additional bet equal to their original bet and the dealer separates the cards, treating them as two different hands. The player then plays each hand to completion.
Insurance is offered as a player choice when the dealer has an ace showing. A player can bet up to half of their original bet, which will be paid at a 2 to 1 ratio if the dealer has a hidden 10 card, and thus a black jack. If the dealer does not have a Blackjack, the insurance bet is lost and play proceeds as normal.
Once all hands including the dealer's are played to completion, the dealer handles collections and payouts. If the player's hand is higher than the dealers without going over 21, the player wins and is paid out at a 2 to 1 ratio, unless it is a Blackjack, in which case it is paid out at a 2 to 1 ratio. If the dealers hand is higher, the dealer wins and collects the losing bet.
If the dealer or the player's hand exceeds 21, it is called a bust. Busts are losses and bets are collected immediately. If the dealer and the player's hand are equal in value, it is called a push, and all bets are returned.
Types and Optional Rules
There are two types of casino Blackjack games. The first type, called a shoe game, requires that all player cards be dealt face up and at no time may the player touch their cards. In the second type, a hand-held game, players may hold the first two cards one hand only and always keep the card holding hand above the table.
Some casinos allow Blackjack dealers to hit on a soft 17. "Soft" means that the hand contains an ace that can be used as either a 1 or an 11 without going over 21. If the dealer will hit on a soft 17, the casino will clearly state that.
Find out more about Blackjack terminology at Wikipedia.