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How to Play Blackjack - A Crash Course

Blackjack Game Basics

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How to Play Blackjack - A Crash Course

Standard Blackjack Table

Photo courtesy of (Angel Fire Press)
Learn How to Play Blackjack with this Simple Crash Course!

The game of blackjack is played with a standard 52-card deck of playing cards. While the game is often referred to as 21, it is most widely known as Blackjack, which also denotes when a player or the dealer is dealt a ten-value card and an ace on their first two cards.

Starting with two cards, each player tries to get as close to 21 as possible without going over. You are a winner when you beat the dealer.

Card Values

No jokers are used in a blackjack game. Cards 2 through 9 count as their face value and 10's and all face cards count as 10. Aces are special and may be counted as 1 or as 11, at your discretion.

When you hold an ace, if you can take a 10-value card and not go over 21, then you have a soft-hand. You have a hard-hand when your ace is playing as a 1 and taking an additional card might cause you to go over 21.

If you have an ace and a 7, your total can be either 8 or 18 - a soft hand. If you hold an ace and a 10 and a 7, you also have 18 - but it is a hard hand.

Game Goals

The main goal of blackjack is to beat the dealer's hand-total each playing round. After you place a bet, the dealer will deal themselves and each player two cards, starting with the first player on their left. The dealer will only expose one of their cards, and based on this limited information, you decide whether to take more cards or stand "pat." Players act first, and if you take a card, or "hit," and go over 21 on a hard-hand, you lose, even if the dealer later busts.

If you don't go over 21 and "stand," you wait for the dealer to finish their hand to see if your total beats theirs or if they "bust." The highest card-total not over 21 wins. If you both have the same total, you tie - nobody wins or loses. You win when you still have your cards and the dealer busts.

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