Rules To Blackjack At Casino

Bear in mind, if you do accidentally break one of these rules, no one is going to scold you or kick you out of the casino. The dealer will simply remind you of the proper way to play. Don’t hand your money to the dealer. The overhead casino security cameras must be able to see all cash transactions. Some casinos limit your doubling to hands that total 10 or 11. DOA is a favorable rule to the player. To signal that you are doubling down you will place an additional bet next to your original bet. Most casinos will let you double down for less than your original bet, provided it meets the table minimum. This is foolish. Blackjack Rules. In its simplest sense, blackjack rules are a set of explicit or implied regulations that oversee how this casino game is played. From the way you and the dealer should interact, to when and how your chips are placed and the many variants to the rules of blackjack, there’s plenty to take in. The strategies below have been based on the Theory of Probability, and Blackjack is one of the few games (because it has very clear-cut rules) in casinos where knowing math can give you a real edge over the casino (How to play Blackjack online and win?). Having studied statistics makes everything easier (or at least more predictable).

  1. How To Play Blackjack At A Casino
  2. Play Blackjack For Free
  3. Casino Blackjack Rules List
  • How to Play

A unique combination of chance & skill

Blackjack rules printable

The popluarity of blackjack stems from its unique combination of chance and skill. The object of the game is to form a hand closer to 21 than the dealer without going over. At Potawatomi Hotel & Casino, blackjack is played with multiple decks of cards and is dealt from a shoe.

Card Values

Face cards (Jack, Queen and King) are worth 10. Cards 2 through 10 retain their face values.

Aces are worth 1 or 11, depending on the hand. Any time an Ace can be used as either 1 or 11, it is called a soft hand. Any time an Ace must be used as 1 (or it would force your hand to exceed 21), it is called a hard hand.

Playing Blackjack

Players place a wager in their corresponding circle. The dealer then waves a hand over the table, closing all bets. Once the first card is placed on the table, all original bets must remain the same until the conclusion of the hand. Two cards are dealt face-up to each player, and two cards (one face-up, one face-down) are placed in front of the dealer. The card dealt face down is known as the dealer hole card.

What is a Blackjack

A hand of Ace and any 10-value card with the original two cards is called blackjack; it pays 3 to 2 (win $15 on a $10 bet).

The Hitting Round

Players can improve their hands by taking additional cards; this is known as hitting. If a player wants an additional card, they make a scratching motion behind or beside the betting area. A player may take cards until satisfied or until the hand exceeds 21—that is called a break. Once a player decides to stand (no more cards), a horizontal hand motion is made above their wager.

Important note: Dealers are not allowed to take verbal commands when addressing hands; a hand signal over the table must be given by each player.

End Game

Once all players complete their hands, the dealer reveals the hole card, placing both cards face up. The dealer draws until a total of hard 17 or better is achieved. The dealer is required to hit a soft 17 or less regardless of players’ hand values. If the dealer breaks, all remaining hands win and are paid even money. If the dealer hits to a total of hard 17 or better, hands closer to 21 than the dealer win. Hands totaling less than the dealer lose. If the dealer and player have the same total, the result is a push: no one wins, no one loses.

Important note: The player loses if the dealer has blackjack and the player has a total of 21, which is not blackjack.


If the dealer’s up-card is an Ace, players are offered insurance. Insurance is an additional wager betting that the dealer does indeed have blackjack. A player may wager up to half of the original bet by placing cheques on the Insurance Line. At this time, any player dealt blackjack can immediately be paid dollar for dollar on their wager by saying “even money,” regardless of the dealer hole card.

The dealer then closes insurance with a hand signal and checks the hole card. If the dealer does indeed have blackjack, insurance pays 2 to 1, and the hand is over. If the dealer does not have blackjack, the insurance wager loses and the hand continues.

How to Split in Blackjack


If a player’s first two cards are of equal value, the player has the option of splitting them to create two separate hands. When splitting, an additional wager equal to the original bet must be made, and a hand signal (two fingers spread apart) must be given to the dealer. The player will play the first hand until satisfied, give a stand hand signal, and then complete the second hand. When splitting Aces, the player receives only one card for each hand.

Important note: When a split results in a hand consisting of a 10-value card and Ace, the value now counts as 21 since blackjack is only possible on the two original cards.

How to Double Down in Blackjack

A confident player may wish to double down by making an additional wager up to the amount of the original bet. Doubling down can be done on any two-card combination, except on blackjack and split Aces. A player taking this option receives only one more card for the hand. All other rules apply.

And those are the basics of blackjack. Strategy cards are available at Sweet Grass Gift Shop for just a few dollars. They’re easy to use, and they’re allowed at the tables. For information on how to play other table games offered at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino, just ask a member of our staff.

If you like blackjack, you might want to try Double Deck Pitch. It plays much like regular blackjack except the dealer operates with two decks of cards in-hand and the cards are dealt face-down.

Blackjack Helpful Hints

  • Players are not allowed to touch the cards.
  • Suits are of no significance.

Blackjack Side Bets

21+3 and Top 3
Now offering two bets for the price of one! Place a 21+3 wager and you’ll also receive a Top 3 wager. Make a qualifying 21+3 and Top 3 hand from your two cards and the dealer’s up-card:

21+3 Payouts

Straight Flush9 to 1
Three of a Kind9 to 1
Straight9 to 1
Flush9 to 1

Top 3 Payouts

Three of a Kind90 to 1
Straight Flush180 to 1
Three of a Kind Suited270 to 1

An Ace-Two-Three sequence wins. However, an Ace may not be combined with any other sequence of cards for purposes of determining a winning hand (for example, King-Ace-Two). Once all 21+3 Top 3 wagers and winnings have been removed from the layout, all Blackjack house rules will apply.

On This Page


I overhear a lot of bad gambling advice in the casinos. Perhaps the most frequent is this one, 'The object of blackjack is to get as close to 21 as possible, without going over.' No! The object of blackjack is to beat the dealer. To beat the dealer the player must first not bust (go over 21) and second either outscore the dealer or have the dealer bust. Here are the full rules of the game.

  1. Blackjack may be played with one to eight decks of 52-card decks.
  2. Aces may be counted as 1 or 11 points, 2 to 9 according to pip value, and tens and face cards count as ten points.
  3. The value of a hand is the sum of the point values of the individual cards. Except, a 'blackjack' is the highest hand, consisting of an ace and any 10-point card, and it outranks all other 21-point hands.
  4. After the players have bet, the dealer will give two cards to each player and two cards to himself. One of the dealer cards is dealt face up. The facedown card is called the 'hole card.'
  5. If the dealer has an ace showing, he will offer a side bet called 'insurance.' This side wager pays 2 to 1 if the dealer's hole card is any 10-point card. Insurance wagers are optional and may not exceed half the original wager.
  6. If the dealer has a ten or an ace showing (after offering insurance with an ace showing), then he will peek at his facedown card to see if he has a blackjack. If he does, then he will turn it over immediately.
  7. If the dealer does have a blackjack, then all wagers (except insurance) will lose, unless the player also has a blackjack, which will result in a push. The dealer will resolve insurance wagers at this time.
  8. Play begins with the player to the dealer's left. The following are the choices available to the player:
    • Stand: Player stands pat with his cards.
    • Hit: Player draws another card (and more if he wishes). If this card causes the player's total points to exceed 21 (known as 'breaking' or 'busting') then he loses.
    • Double: Player doubles his bet and gets one, and only one, more card.
    • Split: If the player has a pair, or any two 10-point cards, then he may double his bet and separate his cards into two individual hands. The dealer will automatically give each card a second card. Then, the player may hit, stand, or double normally. However, when splitting aces, each ace gets only one card. Sometimes doubling after splitting is not allowed. If the player gets a ten and ace after splitting, then it counts as 21 points, not a blackjack. Usually the player may keep re-splitting up to a total of four hands. Sometimes re-splitting aces is not allowed.
    • Surrender: The player forfeits half his wager, keeping the other half, and does not play out his hand. This option is only available on the initial two cards, and depending on casino rules, sometimes it is not allowed at all.
  9. After each player has had his turn, the dealer will turn over his hole card. If the dealer has 16 or less, then he will draw another card. A special situation is when the dealer has an ace and any number of cards totaling six points (known as a 'soft 17'). At some tables, the dealer will also hit a soft 17.
  10. If the dealer goes over 21 points, then any player who didn't already bust will win.
  11. If the dealer does not bust, then the higher point total between the player and dealer will win.
  12. Winning wagers pay even money, except a winning player blackjack usually pays 3 to 2. Some casinos have been short-paying blackjacks, which is a rule strongly in the casino's favor.

Wizard's Simple Strategy

I've been preaching for years that to play blackjack properly requires memorizing the basic strategy. However, after pitching the basic strategy for 20 years, I've learned that few people have the will to memorize it. In my book, Gambling 102, I presented a 'Simple Strategy,' which is seven simple rules to playing blackjack. The cost due to incorrect plays with the Simple Strategy is 0.53%, under liberal Vegas Strip rules.

Ever since my book was published it has bothered me that the cost in errors to my Simple Strategy was too high. So in September 2009 I developed the following 'Wizard's Strategy.' The cost due to imperfect plays is 0.14% only, relative to liberal Vegas Strip rules. That is the cost of one hand for about every 12 hours of play. Compared to the 250 cells in the Basic Strategy, the Wizard's Strategy has only 21, as follows.

Let me be perfectly clear that this strategy is not right 100% of the time. I continue to get Emails saying that when this strategy was used with my practice game, the player was corrected for following it. For example, my simple strategy says to stand on 12 against a 2, when it is mathematically better to hit. If you want to learn a strategy that is correct all the time you should use the appropriate basic strategy for the set of rules you are playing.

Here are some comments of clarification.

  • A 'hard' hand is one that either has no aces, or has aces that are forced to count as point, lest the hand bust. A 'soft' hand is one with at least one ace, which may still count as one or eleven points.
  • With a hard 10 or 11, double if you have more points than the dealer, treating a dealer ace as 11 points. Specifically, double with 10 against a 2 to 9, and with 11 against 2 to 10.
  • If the strategy says to double, but you have three or more cards, or table rules don't allow soft doubling, then hit, except stand with a soft 18.
  • If the strategy says to surrender (16 vs. 10), but you can't for whatever reason, then hit.
  • If the strategy says to 'not split,' then treat the hand has a hard total of 8, 10, or 20, according to the pair in question.

A reader named Jeff provided another table of my simple strategy, with exceptions in small print. Details about the Wizard's Simple Strategy can be found in my Blackjack appendix 21.

Basic Strategy

How To Play Blackjack At A Casino

For the appropriate basic strategy for just about any set of rules, please visit my basic strategy calculator. I still have my traditional charts too:

House Edge

Play my custom-made blackjack game. A special feature is that it tells you when you make a mistake in basic strategy. Choose from various numbers of decks and rule variations.

See my Blackjack House Edge Calculator to determine the house edge under 6,912 possible rule combinations.

Rule Surveys

Las Vegas: I'm proud to feature up date blackjack rules for every casino in Las Vegas. The list is updated monthly, based on Stanford Wong's Current Blackjack Newsletter. Effective November 2009 the survey has been moved to my companion site,

Rule Variations

Following is a list of some common rule variations and the effect on the player's expected return compared to standard U.S. rules (8 decks, dealer stands on soft 17, double after split allowed).

Rule Variations

Single deck0.48%
Early surrender against ten0.24%
Player may double on any number of cards0.23%
Double deck0.19%
Player may draw to split aces0.19%
Six-card Charlie0.16%
Player may resplit aces0.08%
Late surrender0.08%
Four decks0.06%
Five decks0.03%
Six decks0.02%
Split to only 3 hands-0.01%
Player may double on 9-11 only-0.09%
Split to only 2 hands-0.10%
European no hole card-0.11%
Player may not double after splitting-0.14%
Player may double on 10,11 only-0.18%
Dealer hits on soft 17-0.22%
Blackjack pays 7-5-0.45%
Blackjack pays 6-5-1.39%
Blackjacks pay 1 to 1-2.27%
I also have a longer list of rule variations.

Beware Short Pays on a Blackjack

More and more tables are showing up that pay less than the full 3 to 2 on a blackjack. Most of these tables pay 6 to 5, but some even money and 7 to 5 tables are known to exist. I would estimate that 10% of '21' tables in Las Vegas now pay less than 3 to 2. In my opinion, only games that pay 3 to 2 deserve to be called 'blackjack,' the rest fall under '21' games, including Super Fun 21 and Spanish 21. Regardless of the other rules, you should demand nothing less than 3 to 2 blackjack. You should always check the felt to be sure, and if the felt doesn't say, look for a sign. If nothing says the win on a blackjack, then ask.

Articles about 6-5 Blackjack:
  • Taking a hit: New blackjack odds further tilt advantage toward the house, Las Vegas Sun, Nov. 13, 2003.
  • Tighter blackjack rules would hurt players' bankroll, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Feb. 4, 2011.

Bad Strategies

Three popular bad strategies encountered at the blackjack table are: never bust, mimic the dealer, and always assume the dealer has a ten in the hole. All three are very bad strategies. Following are my specific comments on each of them, including the house edge under Atlantic City rules (dealer stands on soft 17, split up to 4 hands, double after split, double any two cards) of 0.43%.

Never bust: For my analysis of this strategy I assumed the player would never hit a hard 12 or more. All other decisions were according to correct basic strategy. This 'never bust' strategy results in a house edge of 3.91%.

Mimic the dealer: For my analysis of this strategy I assumed the player would always hit 16 or less and stand on17 or more, including a soft 17. The player never doubled or split, since the dealer is not allowed to do so. This 'mimic the dealer' strategy results in a house edge of 5.48%.

Assume a ten in the hole: For this strategy I first figured out the optimal basic strategy under this assumption. If the dealer had an ace up, then I reverted to proper basic strategy, because the dealer would have peeked for blackjack, making a 10 impossible. This 'assume a ten' strategy results in a house edge of 10.03%.

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Written by: Michael Shackleford