Black Jack rules
Below, you will find commonly used Back Jack rules. It is very important to check the rules for the specific table you wish to play at, because the rules below might not be the same as the rules for that table. The rules below are only to be seen as a base for anyone interested in learning about black jack rules. Once you understand the rules outlined below, it will be easier for you to adapt to other rules used at other black jack tables, since you understand the basic framework.
Blackjack is a game where the player is allowed – and even required – to make decisions during the course of the game and these decisions will have an impact on the outcome. Because of this, knowing the exact rules of the black jack table is exceedingly important for any one that wish to make a long-term profit playing blackjack.
Most types of Black Jack are played with one or more of the standard 52 card deck, with no jokers or other wild cards.
One deck, two decks, six decks or eight decks are the most commonly used configurations.
Blackjack played with just one deck is called Single Deck Black Jack.
The point system
A special point system is used in Black Jack. It is very easy to learn. The cards 2 – 9 are worth their numerical value. Ten, Jack, Queen and King are worth 10 points each. The Ace is worth 1 point or 11 points, depending on what’s best for the hand.
- Ace 1 point or 11 points, depending on what’s best for the hand
- Two 2 points
- Three 3 points
- Four 4 points
- Five 5 points
- Six 6 points
- Seven 7 points
- Eight 8 points
- Nine 9 points
- Ten 10 points
- Jack 10 points
- Queen 10 points
- King 10 points
Winning and losing
Your hand is a winning blackjack hand if it is closer to 21 points than what the dealer’s hand is.
- Your hand is worth 18 points while the dealer’s hand is worth 17 points. Your hand wins.
- Your hand is worth 20 points while the dealer’s hand is worth 21 points. Your hand loses.
Player hand going over
A hand that goes over 21 points is immediately lost. If your hand reaches 22 points or more, the dealer will immediately remove this hand from the table and take your wager. It doesn’t matter any more what the dealer’s hand turns out to be worth – your hand is already lost. Even if the dealer also goes over eventually, you are not getting your wager back.
Dealer hand going over
If the dealer’s hand goes over, all remaining player hands win – regardless of how low they are.
If your hand and the dealer’s hand are of identical value, its a tie. You get to keep your wager, but you don’t win anything.
Warning! There are Black Jack tables where you will lose your wager in the case of a tie at 18 points or lower, but such tables offer horrible odds for the player and should be avoided like the plague.
A Black Jack beats any other 21 point hand
Black Jack is not just the name of the game, it is also the name of a special hand – a hand consisting of an ace + any ten point card. This is the strongest hand possible and it will beat any other hand worth 21 points.
Example: Your hand is 7 + 8 + 6 = 21 points. The dealer’s hand is ace + queen = a black jack. The dealer’s hand wins over your hand, since a black jack is stronger than any other 21 point hand.
In standard black jack, all black jacks are of equal value. Ace + King is not worth more than Ace + Queen, and so on.
What’s the difference between a hard hand and a soft hand?
As mentioned above, an ace is worth 1 point or 11 points, depending on what’s best for the hand.
- Your start hand consists of ace + six. If would elect to stay here, this hand would be worth 11 points + 6 points = 17 points.
- You decide to take a card. Your third card is a seven. 11 points + 6 points + 7 points = 24 points. A 24 point hand is automatically lost, so the ace being worth 11 points is bad for the hand in this situation. Therefore, the ace will instead switch to being worth 1 point. 1 point + + 6 points + 7 points = 14 points. The hand is still in play, and you can elect to stay or take a fourth card.
When a hand contains a ace that hasn’t been “fixed” at 1 point yet, the hand is said to be a soft hand. In the example above, the hand consisting of ace + six was a soft 17 hand. The hand consisting of ace + six + seven was on the other hand a hard 14, because there was no longer any room for the ace to switch back and forth between 11 points and 1 point – it had been fasted at 1 point to save the hand from going over.
If your start hand consists of two cards of equal value, you can elect to split the hand.
Example: You wager $20 and get Ten + King as your start hand. Since both of these cards are worth 10 points, you can split if you want to. In order to split, you must make a new $20 wager. The dealer will separate the two cards from each other on the table and use the Ten as a base for a new hand and the King as a base for another hand.
When you have split a hand, you will automatically get a new card on your first card. You then play the hand just as a normal hand. When this hand is finished, you will automatically get a card on the second card from your split hand. You will then play this hand as a normal hand.
In some casinos, it is permitted to split a hand that has already been split.
Example: You split a hand consisting of Ten + King. The card you get on your Ten is a Queen. You elect to split again. You put up a new wager, identical in size to our original wager.
When you have seen your start hand, and the dealer’s first card, you can elect to double your wager. In some casinos, you can double on any start hand. In other casinos, you can only double when the start hand is worth 9 points, 10 points or 11 points.
As the name suggests, you double by doubling your wager. So if your original wager was $30, you double by adding another $30 to the bet.
When you have doubled your wager, the dealer will automatically give you one additional card on your hand. You can not refuse this card. Also, you can not receive for a fourth card.
In some casinos, doubling after a split is allowed.
If the dealer’s first card is an ace, she will give you the option of purchasing insurance.
If you elect to insure your hand, the insurance premium is equal to 50% of the initial wager.
If the dealer gets a black jack, you will not lose your wager on an insured hand that is still in the game (i.e. not over). You also get to keep the insurance premium for a hand that is still in the game.
If the dealer doesn’t get a blackjack, you lose the insurance premium. What happens to your wager depends on the strength of your hand in relation to the dealer’s hand, just as normally.
Generally speaking, purchasing insurance is (mathematically) a sucker’s bet that should be avoided. Skilled black jack players will however purchase insurance when they have reason to believe that the chance of the dealer getting a ten point card on her ace is significantly higher than normal. A card counter that knows that the remaining shoe is rich in ten point card can, from a mathematical standpoint, be right in purchasing insurance.
If surrender is an option at the black jack table, it means that you are allowed to fold your start hand and receive 50% of your wager back. Only an untouched start hand can be surrendered; you can’t surrender a hand that has received a third card.
Nowadays, it is quite difficult to find black jack tables where surrendering is an option. Most black jack tables will not allow you to surrender.
For a skilled black jack player, strategical surrenders can be highly beneficial in the long run, especially when combined with card counting.