Casino Blackjack: Rules of the Game

Select offline play if you learning to play with friends or at a land based casino. Select online play if you want to learn how to play blackjack at an online casino

Offline Play
Part 1 - Blackjack Basics
Part 2 - Blackjack Player Options
Part 3 - Blackjack Strategy to Maximize Winnings
Part 4 - Insurance and Surrender
Part 5 - Rule Variations
Part 6 - Card Counting
What's Next
Online Blackjack Rules
Part 1 - So How Do You Play Blackjack?
Part 2 - Playing The Game: Blackjack Decisions
What's Next

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74 comments on “Casino Blackjack: Rules of the Game

  • Anonymous said:

    i was playing black jack at the casino in sudbury. when splitting two face cards the machine aloud me to play each card seperatly like two seperate hands but when splitting two aces the machine gave me one card on each ace and then played its hand not allowing me to play the aces at all . is this a common practice.

  • Anonymous said:

    If dealer has black jack and says they don’t and game continues and you get 21 as well what is the recourse.

  • Bob Schultz said:

    Ken Smith. Is there any significance in blackjack when you have a black jack paired with a black ace, same suit? The question came up on the multiple choice question on Millionaire. ” With 8 decks in the shoe, how many black jacks are there? I guessed 16 but the answer was 32???

  • mildred said:

    In playing 21 with one deck off cards aND two people playing, in playing Blackjack with one deck of cards and two people playing what is the most black jack show up

  • mildred said:

    In one deck off cards with two people playing, what is really most a black show up.?

  • Tyler said:


    This may not be the most appropriate page to post this, but let me explain the situation. I aspire to hopefully gather a group of trustworthy guys together to form a blackjack team. unless I overlooked it, I don’t see anything anywhere on this website that discusses team play. It will be quite some time before I can actually execute this plan, but I have numerous details already worked out in my head and I’d like to run them by a pro to get some tips and advice.i have read several articles online discussing team play, but are there any resources or references you can give me about? And if you are willing and/or have time if I could somehow discuss some of my specific ideas with you? Just knowing of a good source either online or a good book I could get my hands on would suffice. Thank you.

  • godofredo edquiban said:

    In a basic blackjack, does triple 7 suited be paid 3xs?

    • LVBear584 replied:

      Not unless the casino has a special promotion.

  • Johnny C. said:

    How does it affect the game if the player can only split once , not multiple times?

  • Say I’m the dealer and I have two players, the player on the left has 18 and stays and the other player on the right hits 21. As the dealer I get up to 20. Can the dealer chose to stay and take the chips bet from player on the left. But pay the player on the right?

    • The dealer cannot CHOOSE to do anything. His rules are fixed. He must hit until he has 17 or higher, and then he must stand. Even if all the players at the table have 18, the dealer must stand if he ends up with a 17.

      One complication: Most casinos now deal games with an extra rule about soft 17. In the “Dealer Hits Soft 17” games, if the dealer has a hand like (Ace,3,3), that’s a “soft” 17, and he must hit again. This is covered in detail in the article above.

      In your particular example, the dealer of course must stand with a total of 20, and he will collect the chips from the player with 18, and pay the player with 21.

  • Sierra Reid said:

    I have a question. I’m just a beginner player but is 8 the maximum number of decks that are allowed to be used in a game of original blackjack? I signed up on an online casino and I was getting ready to play blackjack for real money and I asked the live chat help person how many decks were being used and she said 24 decks. Is that allowed?

    • Casinos, both online and land-based, can deal the game pretty much any way they like, including increasing the number of decks to a ridiculous 24! Fortunately, once you get to 8 decks, the game does not get much worse for the player by adding even more decks. In fact, there have been online casinos that dealt from “infinite” decks, which simply means that the probability of each rank of card being dealt is always 1 in 13.
      For a basic strategy player, it doesn’t affect the game much going from 8 decks to 24 decks, or even infinite decks. Use the 8-deck strategy for these games.

    • LVBear replied:

      Eight decks is the most typically seen in brick-and-mortar casinos, but in most jurisdictions, land-based or online, there is no legal requirement for any specific number of decks.

  • Rimas Parakininkas said:

    Is there any standard in the way a dealer deals from the deck? I know that casino’s use multiple decks and deal from them till they run out. However, as of late I’ve noticed that they are taking the cards and putting them in a shuffling machine after every hand so you cant see how many cards are left until the end of the decks is reached. I don’t actually count cards but I get an idea on whats is going on by watching what was played and what is left to be dealt. Is this allowed? As I just asked this question I suppose that its whatever the casino wants to do, Isn’t there some guidelines that they have to follow.

    • You are describing a CSM (continuous shuffle machine), where after each hand the dealer immediately puts the used cards back into the shuffler. As you note, this eliminates the ability to count cards, or to even observe a useful bias. Since used cards can return into play immediately, the penetration is effectively zero. These machines have spread widely. The only recourse is to see if your casino also still offers regular games (either hand-shuffled, or machine-shuffled but with a normal discard tray). If not, voice your discontent and look elsewhere.

  • Scott Jaffe said:

    also, I’ve tried to write a casino a couple times to find out their particular blackjack rules. No response. Should I be able to ask a casino to provide a copy of their rules?

    • I assume you are talking about online casinos. I would recommend avoiding any place that doesn’t have the rules clearly available on their site. Certainly, if they don’t respond to requests for the rules, that’s all I would need to know about their level of support. No way!

  • Scott Jaffe said:

    I’ve played an online blackjack that when dealt two Aces automatically changed one of them to count eleven. I didnt catch it at first but sure enough when I drew another card I busted. This particular game would not count both my Aces as one. Is this ever done at a casino?

    • Yikes! That’s a terrible rule, and one I have never personally seen. I wouldn’t trust any online casino that does such a poor job of implementing blackjack, as I suspect it was just a programmer that didn’t understand even the basics of the game. Who knows what else they are doing wrong! To answer your question, no, this is never done at any casino I have visited.

  • Bob said:

    In Atlantic City casinos Blackjack tables is a side bet called Match The Dealer (MTC).Is this a good bet? What is the house percentage?

  • Jose said:

    Hi Ken,

    I read the following in the Casino Verite Software: “A perfect side count for Insurance purposes would count Tens as -9 and all other cards as +4”. But it doesn’t explain how to use this indicator. Can you help me with this?


      • Jose replied:

        Thank you for the reference. It is very interesting.

        There you can find: “Tens are counted as -2 and all other cards as +1. Insure if the count is greater than four times the number of decks”.
        1) when he said the count it means the running count?
        2) when he said the number of decks is the remaing decks in the shoe or the total decks of the game?

        Thank you in advance.

        • 1) Yes, use the running count for the decision. (This works because of the unbalanced nature of the count.)
          2) Base the index on the total number of decks in the game. In a six-deck game, insure at +24, regardless of how many decks have been dealt or remain to be dealt.

  • Fred said:

    If I have two aces, can I count one as “1”, and the other one as “11”, making a total of 12 ? Or do I need to count them equally ?

    • There is no need to “assign” a value to the Aces, and no need to choose the same value for multiple Aces. Treat them independently, and reassess after each drawn card changes the hand.
      Here are some examples:
      (Ace, Ace) = Soft 12 (2 or 12)
      (Ace, Ace, 8) = Soft 20 (10 or 20) You should stand with 20, regardless of the dealer upcard.
      (Ace, Ace, 4) = Soft 16 (6 or 16) You should hit this hand, regardless of dealer upcard.
      (Ace, Ace, Ten) = Hard 12 You may hit or stand on this hand, depending on the dealer upcard.
      (Ace, Ace, 4, 8) = Hard 14.

      Note that these examples are bit contrived, because if your first two cards are Aces, you should split instead.

  • george v. hillstead said:

    what is ment by rare hand like ( a 3 or 9 3 ) i am playing a game call hit or stand witch it grades you on the correct amount of hands that you get correct so far these two hands do not double this is a rare hand

    • I’m not sure why anyone would describe hands like (Ace,3) and (9,3) as “rare”. You will draw each of those hands about once every 169 hands or so.
      As to whether or not to double, (9,3) is a hard 12 and should certainly never be doubled. (Ace,3) should be doubled vs dealer 5 & 6. (Also against a dealer 4 in some 1 and 2 deck games.) See the Strategy Engine for accurate advice for any game.

  • Itachi said:

    can I bring your black jack strategy engine in the casino? or is it not allowed?

    • I assume you are asking about accessing the charts on your smartphone in the casino. I do not recommend that. In the US, there are laws prohibiting the use of devices in gambling. Most of these laws are based on the Nevada version, which is written in a way that it could be interpreted to mean even something as harmless as looking up a strategy. You don’t want to be the test case for this. If you want access to the strategy in the casino, get a plastic card instead.

      • Itachi replied:

        I see, you got a really good thing over here 🙂


  • craig follis said:

    what is the best blackjack game for visual impaired people either shoe or facedown games and can a friend help with telling what the cards are being played or play for the visual impaired person . and can ask the blackjack tables and deelers before sitting down if this is possible incasino blackjack play.

    • The shoe game will be easier for a visually impaired player, because both the other players and the dealer have full access to the needed information about the hands. I have played at the table on many occasions with blind players, and the dealer has always assisted by verbally providing the details of the hand. I have even seen players request that the dealer call out other player’s hands as well, and while that is perhaps not always available, I have seen it done.

      On several of the televised blackjack tournaments that I participated in, Regina Guzior was often a competitor. She was a very talented tournament foe, despite being completely blind. It was always a pleasure to compete against her.

      One more thing. You asked if a friend can assist. The answer there is yes. And this means that face-down games can be easily managed as well.

  • Craig Nichol said:

    Awesome page, One question.. regards the splitting phase, you say that the dealer only gives the player a card on the second eight after he stands or busts on the first. Is this a standard rule? I’ve come across casinosthat offer standard BJ where the dealer hands one card each on each eight and then plays each hand independently? Need to be sure which is the standard and which is the exception… Thanks

    • I have seen the behavior you describe in online casinos, but I have never seen it dealt that way in any land-based casino. There, the dealer always deals a card to the first split hand, finishes that hand, and then deals a card to the second split hand and begins it.

  • Laurian said:

    I was in Cancun in a casino and in one hand I had 2 Aces against dealer King. I split the 2 Aces and I,ve got Queens on both aces but the dealer draw a card that was an Ace and said that he won since he had blackjack and I only had it a correct rule?

    • That is correct. Blackjack is 21 in the first two cards, and it beats a total of 21, even the case of splitting and getting two hands that look like blackjack. They are just 21s. Note that in the normal US rules, this can’t happen, because the dealer deals a hole card and checks it for blackjack before the players can do anything. But when the dealer does not take a hole card (and all bets are subject to losing to a potential dealer blackjack), you should not double or split against a dealer ten or ace because of this. The only exception: Continue splitting Aces against a dealer ten. (So your play was correct, even though it lost!) You can use the Strategy Engine “No Peek” setting to generate the correct strategy for this.

  • Hi, can please anyone help me with an answer. Do casinos now change the deck of cards after every game or not? Because I heard lot of people saying that now it is impossible to memorise cards that are still in the game. But I am not sure if this is due to change or because casino use so many decks at once (I read above that there are 8 decks in the game)

    • I think what you are trying to describe are continuous shuffle machines (CSMs), which allow the dealer to put the discards back into the machine immediately instead of waiting until the shuffled shoe is completed. The use of a CSM does eliminate the ability to count cards. Fortunately, there are still plenty of games available in most areas that do not use CSMs.
      As for “memorizing” cards that are still left to be dealt, that is not necessary. Card counting allows you to use a much simpler system of just maintaining a single number (the running count), that reflects whether the remaining cards are biased towards high cards or low cards. No need to memorize anything.

  • Hi, Ken,

    My question is: Whay you double down at 9 against a 4 or 5 and you don’t at A,8, since I have the same a total of 9 ?

    • The difference is that you must draw a card to your total of 9, whether you double or not. Standing is not an option. With A8 instead, you already have a completed solid hand of 19.

  • Yvonne said:

    In blackjack if you are dealt 5 cards under 21 do you automatically win the hand?

  • Hi,
    Love your website thank you I’m finding it very helpful! I’m wondering if you can please tell me if I use the Basic Strategy cards online blackjack will they work to be profitable overall in the long term if I follow the rules as they are? Thanks in advance!
    Warm regards,

    • Basic strategy will reduce the house edge, but not eliminate it. In typical games, your long-run expectation will be to lose around half a percent of your total action.

  • The white steve harvey said:

    Tipping the dealer.
    common etiquette?

    • Yes, tipping the dealer is common. Just be aware of how much you are tipping over the course of an hour, and don’t let it get out of hand. If a dealer is pleasant, I like to tip a small amount on the hand after I get blackjack, but even then I skip some hands.

  • Artieboy said:

    Hi Ken:
    Didn’t your web site have a link to a page that had a very long list of different rules and their overall effect, for example 5 cards automatically wins, double on any 3, etc? I remember the link said “i have more rules here”. It was a cool list.

    Just wondering


  • Mattie said:

    I am looking for information on 5 cards and under. Is there a rule that applies to this?

    • Are you asking about a rule that pays you for having 5 cards and not busting? This kind of “5-card Charlie” rule would be unusual to find in a casino as it adds well over 1% for the player. 6-card and 7-card automatic wins are found sometimes, though they are far less valuable.
      The free Windows software at this site will analyze these rules for you, including optimal strategy and the effect on the game.
      Here’s the link: Free BJ Combinatorial Software

  • Tell me about the best place to sit at a table in Vegas. I have heard that you do not want to be on the end.

    • If you are a basic strategy player, it makes no difference where you sit.
      If you are a card counter, you can see an extra few cards before you play your hand by sitting at the end, which helps a small bit.
      However, since many players are erroneously convinced that the “third-base” player can affect everyone’s results, they often are combative if they disagree with your play in that seat. For that reason, many players avoid it.

  • Blackjohn said:

    Can you please explain why when I have 12, I should stand if the dealer has 4-5 o/w hit? OR I have 13-16, I should stand when the dealer has 2-6, o/w hit?
    I think it’s better to remember the strategy if I understand it

    • When the dealer has a 2 through 6 up, they must draw another card (except A6 depending on the table rules). As a result, the dealer busts more often with those upcards. This is why standing on player totals of 12-16 is the best play against the small dealer upcards. As for 12v2 and 12v3, those are just exceptions you have to remember. Because the dealer busts less often with 2 and 3 up, and you have a lower chance of busting than with player totals of 13-16, the math just swings the decision in those cases so that hitting is better than standing. That’s with 12v2 and 12v3 only.

  • Barry Cameron said:

    I’ve noticed that some advantage players hit on A+7 when the dealer has a 2 whereas your strategy here indicates that stand/stay would be the preferred choice with 8 decks, DAS, No surrender, and no peek. Any thoughts on this difference?

    • It is likely that you saw players doubling A7v2, not just hitting it. (Hitting would simply be a mistake, as it is the third best way to play the hand.)

      The choice of whether to stand or double with A7v2 is a close one.
      In fact, correct basic strategy for that hand depends on whether the dealer hits or stands on soft 17s.
      (The strategy engine takes all this into account when creating an accurate strategy chart for you.)

      In S17 games, you should stand.
      In H17 games, you should double. (Except in single deck.)

      Card counters will often double this hand even in S17 games, because it only takes a true count of +1 or more to make this the correct play.

  • Larry D. said:

    Hello Ken, On a recent trip to Laughlin, Nevada, playing blackjack at the Riverside Casino, I was in total shock at the table rules. You can Double down ONLY on a HARD TEN / ELEVEN OR HIGHER, CAN’T DOUBLE DOWN ON ANY SOFT HANDS AND NO DOUBLE DOWN AFTER A SPLIT. Blackjack did pay 3/2 and dealer hits soft 17. Can a person win under those rules? I quit playing there. Any other suggestions? I generally play at the Indian Casinos in Calif. where the rules are more favorable to the player. The biggest problem of all is…………… my lovely lady friend loves the Colorado River and wants to go back. Thanks so much for any suggestions, Larry D. P.S. Please don’t suggest a new girlfriend.

    • Those rules are definitely tough. Even if it is a 2-deck game, the starting house edge in that game is still 0.75%.
      It’s been a long time since I played in Laughlin, but I would surprised if there aren’t better choices available. Look around at some of the other places and see what’s available.

  • Brad Railer said:

    Wow this website made me win big I started with 1k and I left with about 5.79K Thx!

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