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Home > Traditional Games (Parlor Games) > Card Games > Blackjack / 21 / Twenty-One

Rules of Blackjack Card Game
Winning Tips & Strategies

Blackjack (Twenty-One) is a ‘banking’-type card game enjoyed by casual and dedicated players, young and old alike. Played by 2 or more players, it requires skill and daring! You get as close to a ‘bust’ (an instant loss situation) to insure a win!

Typically, the game is played against a Dealer or Banker.

Playing Cards Spades Family

To play, a deck of playing cards and a flat surface is all that is required. You can also use a special Blackjack table, or Use our Free Printable Blackjack layout to achieve a Casino feel.

Blackjack is coincidentally the most played Casino game in the world. It is the popular target of ‘advantage’-players – those casino patrons who seek to “beat the house”. Usually they employ Some method of card-counting. It also helps to have good memory.

 
 

What You Need to Play a Game of Blackjack/Twenty-One:

* a deck of cards

* a flat surface big enough to accommodate the play area

* (optional) a Blackjack table or a table with Blackjack markings

 

Objective of a Game of Blackjack/Twenty-One:

* to beat the dealer or house by ending your turn with a higher-valued hand. A hand can be valued an exact 21 or come as close to 21 without going over.

Note: Exceeding 21 means a ‘bust’ or instant loss

 

How to Set Up a Game of Blackjack/Twenty-One:

* the dealer thoroughly shuffles a deck of 52 playing cards (Jokers should be excluded)

* exactly 2 cards are dealt face-up to each player in the game

* the dealer customarily deals himself 1 card facing up, and 1 card facing down (also called a hole card)

* excess cards are placed face-down on the table and become the ‘Shoe’ or ‘Deck’

* the game is now set up and ready to play

 
 

Playing a Game of Blackjack/Twenty-One:

Card Values: All “number cards” (2,3,4, .. 9,10) are valued at face. Jacks, Queens and Kings have a value of 10. Aces are valued 1 or 10, depending on the player’s hand – that is to say, whichever of the 2 values result in advantage to the player.

The Player Can Win Automatically:
If a player is dealt an Ace and a 10-value card (10s, Jacks, Queens or Kings), he gets what is called a Natural 21 or Blackjack, which almost always result in an automatic win. The one exception is when the dealer *also* gets a Natural 21, resulting in a “Push” situation or a tie. In cases where bets are made, the player’s bet is returned whenever a Push arises.

The Player Can Lose Automatically:
If the dealer draws a Natural 21, all players can automatically lose. The exception is when the player *also* gets a Natural 21.

Order of Play for Blackjack/Twenty-One:

Once the hands of players who were dealt Natural-21’s are settled, the game can begin in earnest. Play proceeds in clockwise order. The dealer prompts each player to resolve his hand; the dealer’s attention will remain on such player until player’s hand is resolved. Once all players have resolved their hands, the dealer then plays his own hand.

The player’s hand is resolved in 1 of 5 ways:

[1] when the lucky player is dealt a Blackjack (or a Natural 21);

[2] when the lucky player Hits and acquires a card that results in his hand having a value of exactly 21

[3] when the player chooses to Stand;

[4] when the player chooses to Double-down;

[5] when the unlucky player ‘Busts’ his hand by Hitting and being dealt a card that results in his hand having a value greater than 21.

The dealer’s hand is resolved in 1 of 3 ways:
[1] when the dealer gets a Blackjack (or a Natural 21);
[2] when the dealer surpasses the value where he is required to Hit
[3] when the dealer busts his hand

The Dealer is Required to Hit at a certain value and to Stand when beyond: Typically, a value is decided whereby the Dealer is required to Hit should his hand be equal to or less than said value (such as 17, for example). In the same application, the Dealer is required to Stand should his hand surpass said value. If this rule is in effect, the value should be announced or published. Typically in Casino games, the rule is published on the Blackjack table.

Playing Cards: Blackjack Revealed Ace & Jack
 
 

Valid Moves in Blackjack/Twenty-One:

Before a hand is resolved, a player has the following moves available to him insofar as such moves apply to his hand (i.e., read on for details):
* Hit: when a player Hits, he is dealt exactly 1 card face-up. If the value of the newly-acquired card results in a sum greater than 21, the player busts his hand and automatically loses. Note: If bets are placed, the player forfeits his bet even if the dealer should eventually bust his own hand.
* Split: when a player is dealt 2 cards of the same value, he has the option to Split his hand. The cards are separated and treated as 2 distinct hands, and one new card is dealt for each hand. As you can see, Splitting results in the player concurrently playing 2 separate hands. The player then plays each hand separately and distinctly. Note: If bets are placed, the player is required to submit another bet of the same value as before in order to Split his hand.
* Double-down (applicable only to games where bets are made): this move requires a player to submit a bet of the same value as before. In exchange, he is dealt exactly just one more card and then the dealer moves on to the next player. Win or lose, the player effectively doubles the amount of his original bet.
* Stand: when a player Stands, he effectively ends his turn in favor of the next player. The hand he ends up with is then compared to the dealer’s own hand to see if the player wins or loses.

As an alternative, you can also try the reverse tactic: by always asking for the value of the most recent card that you fished, you may keep the others guessing as to the values of the original cards that were dealt you. This may keep you in a good position to pounce upon a player whom you know already holds a 3-of-a-kind, allowing you to form an easy book on your next turn.

Players Complete against the Dealer: Typically, each player competes with the Dealer or Banker independently of all other players, which means that 1 player’s wins & losses do not affect any other player.

 
 

Optional Rules in Blackjack/Twenty-One:

Dealer Hits at Such Value: The value whereby the Dealer is required to Hit or Stand can be adjusted. Typically, the Dealer Hits at 16 and stands at 17. Although some standard games require the Dealer to Hit at 17 and stand at 18.

Insurance against Dealer’s Blackjack or Natural 21: This is applicable only in games with bets. Recall that the dealer usually deals himself 1 card face-up and 1 card face-down. Should it be revealed that the dealer’s upturned card is an Ace, the player is given the option to place a new, separate bet called a “Side-Bet” on whether the dealer is holding a Blackjack or Natural 21 – that is, if his face-down card is actually a 10-value card (10s, Jacks, Queens or Kings).

Surrendering a Hand: In some betting games, a player is given the option to Surrender as his very first move, sort of saying that the player wishes not to pursue the hand he is dealt. A player who surrenders his hand is typically paid back half his original bet. Unlimited Splits: Typically, a player is only allowed to do 1 split in each game. Allowing unlimited Splits can result in huge sums being bet in 1 game of Blackjack.

Combining 2 or more Decks of Cards: Using more than 1 deck of card will increase the difficulty level of the game since this makes it harder to keep track of which cards have already made their appearance.

BlackJack Queen and Ace of Spades

Play Blackjack as an Adult Party Game:

There's Lots of ways to play Blackjack/21. There's also lots of occasions you can whip out this classic card game. Below you will find links to pages dedicated to Playing Blackjack as an Adult Party Game:

Drunk Card Games Series: Blackjack/21 as an Adult Party Game

Solo Drinking Game Rules: How to Play Blackjack/21 Solo Drinking Game

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Animated GIF FreeFree Printable Blackjack / Twenty-One Table Design
(download, print and play!)

This is a game table layout for Blackjack / Twenty-One. It is not strictly necessary to play the game . You may download, and print as many copies as you wish.
[Huge Text: A4.Size . Letter.Size] . [Big Text: A4.Size . Letter.Size]
[Small Text: A4.Size . Letter.Size]

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