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Blackjack: Basic Rules and History of the Game

Blackjack is an engaging card game played by more people than dice, baccarat and other card games. Success in Blackjack depends first and foremost on luck. Yet, beginners should also learn basic strategies to start taking the first steps in this exciting gambling game.

The Purpose of the Game

20 in Blackjack

The misconception is the statement that the sense of the gameplay is to gain more points, but not more than twenty-one. Such a statement is wrong, and this game has a different meaning. To become a winner, the gambler has to win the dealer, and this requires getting as many points as possible. Thus, you should have the highest number of points, but this number must not exceed 21 points. If the number is bigger, you lose. It also means you bust.

Card Values in Blackjack 

The first thing to learn to understand how to play Blackjack is to find out card values:

  • Cards from 2 to 10 are evaluated according to their face value from 2 to 10 points.
  • Jack, queen and king are evaluated with 10 points.
  • With an ace, things are a little more complicated. If the sum of cards you have is 21 points, an ace will add 11 points to your deck. And if the sum of cards is more than 21 points, the ace is rated 1 point.

In Blackjack, card suits have no meaning at all.

Soft and Hard Hands

This aspect is also essential to mention when you start learning how to play blackjack. 

The hard hand is the hand in which the ace brings one point or no point at all. For example, if a gambler has A-6, it counts as 7.

If it was more profitable for the gambler to evaluate an ace with eleven points, it would mean that his hand is soft. In this case, a combination of an ace and 6 counts as 17.

How Gamblers Bet in Blackjack

Blackjack table game

As a rule, players make their bets before starting the game. Then the dealer comes into the game. At first, he distributes two cards to all present gamblers. The dealer himself takes one or two cards. After each of the gamblers gets two cards, they start making decisions one by one. Someone sitting on the left of the dealer may ask for more cards. It is possible to take cards until the player decides that the number of points is close enough to 21. Participants can increase their stakes using options such as insurance, doubling or splitting.

All casinos set minimum and maximum bets, usually between $1 and $500. Yet, gamblers have to use chips instead of cash. To buy them, participants should wait until the deal ends the round and then place their money on the gambling table. Gamblers need to put their chips in front of them.

Playing Options 

This is your turn after the gambler on your right has made his decision. If there is nobody on your right hand, you are the first to decide.


If the sum of your first two cards is from 2 to 16, you can take another card until the sum of the points is from 18 to 21 or excess. 

Gamblers use a special gesture that denotes they want to hit. To show that you want to take a card, easily hit the table with the first two fingers. 


This option means that you don‘t want to get any more cards. Then the queue moves on to the next gambler.  

Gamblers also use a special gesture to show that they want to stand. To do this, you must hold your hand open with your palm down, then easily pull it towards the dealer and back.

Double Down

You double the bet and get only one more card. Usually, gamblers use this option if the sum of the first two cards is from 8 to 11, and in the case of soft hands, it should be from 12 to 19.

To show that the gambler wants to double down, he uses a special gesture. When the dealer reaches you, show him your index finger, which means you only want one card. 

After getting a card, this gambler can‘t make more moves in the current round. If he wins, he will be paid both bets, but if he loses, both bets will be taken.


The hand is divided into two if both cards have the same value. 10, Jacks, Queen and King count 10 each. If both hands win, you get a double win. If only one wins, you stay with your money. If both lose both, you lose twice. 


Some variations of Black Jack also have one more extra option such as Surrender. In this case, the player stops further play, losing only half of his initial bet. You can do this if you understand that otherwise, you will lose all your money. 


Insurance is one of the bets in blackjack. It is available only if the dealer‘s open card is an ace. Thus, if the player suspects that the dealer may have blackjack, he can make an additional bet at the rate of half of the original one.

Usually, if the dealer has blackjack, you lose. Yet, if you have insurance, you will receive a 2:1 payout. As a result, you will stay with your money.

So, it is called insurance because this type of bet guarantees you that you won‘t lose if the dealer has a blackjack.

Please note that if the dealer does not have blackjack, you will lose your insurance bet and in the end, all your money. Thus, it can be risky. 

According to the basic strategy of the game, insurance is not a profitable option for the gambler. Experts never recommend placing it, especially if you are a beginner.

What Are Your Chances to Win?

It is important to remember that the casino has a certain advantage automatically. The fact is that if you have got more than 21 points, the dealer wins anyway without getting a single card. From the point of view of mathematics, the advantage of the casino is about 8%.

On the other hand, a gambler has more chances than a dealer to increase his winnings. You can, unlike your opponent, double your bet or split cards.

Winning combinations are paid in a 1:1 ratio, except for the Blackjack, for which you get a 3:2 win. The dealer always has a 1:1 ratio, even if he has a Blackjack on his hands.

Blackjack Tips

Although blackjack depends on gamblers‘ luck, there are still some tips that will make the chance to win higher:

  • Determine your budget for the game in advance and stick to it so you don‘t get in debt.
  • Play at a table where the minimum rate is 5% of your game budget.
  • Take the card if the sum of your hand is less than 17 when the dealer has 8, 9 or 10. Stop if you have more than 11 points when the dealer has 4, 5, 6. The dealer will have to take the card, and there is a high chance that he will bust.
  • Never make an insurance bet only if you aren’t a professional. 
  • When you get two cards of the same value, you can split them in half while doubling the initial bet. Do not split 10 and 5. Always split 7 and 8 when the dealer has a card of the same value or lower. Split 2 and 3 when the dealer has 4, 5 or 6 and always split the aces.
  • Raise your bets during a successful game and decrease your losses.

Etiquette of the Game

To earn a good reputation among gamblers, you need to know the basic etiquette rules of this gambling game. First of all, you need to hold on confidently, be friendly and follow the following rules.

Do you think about how to start gambling? Take a seat at the table. When the round is over, lay out the money and tell the dealer what chips you would like to get. He will of course be happy to take your cash, count it and give you the chips. Now you can bet and play!

If you are new to the game, try not to sit in the left-most place. The gambler sitting there acts in front of the dealer so that others can blame you if the dealer gets 10 or ace. 

It is not necessary to touch the chips after handing out the cards. After the dealer has given away the cards, do not touch your bets or the other gamblers‘ bets. This may be a reason to think that you are taking your bets or making a new one. The dealer will think that you have decided to cheat, in which case the reputation of a dishonest gambler is assured to you. 

Make hand gestures more often. A casino is a noisy place. It happens that the dealer can‘t hear what you‘re telling him. By making gestures, you can easily solve controversial issues. 

Do not try to be insured if you are just starting to play. In this case, other gamblers will immediately realize that you are not the best in blackjack. It is not the most profitable tactic.

Do not advise your opponents. If the gambler has asked you for advice, you can help him. If you have not been asked, no one will appreciate listening to tips. You can become a distraction, an irritant and a hindrance to another gambler. Overall, others can think that you are not the best person to play. 

No alcohol during the game. Drinking alcohol at the game table is a hindrance and a distraction. The atmosphere of the game, in this case, is not quite favorable because then there are unnecessary conversations and arguments, which prevents you from concentrating and the blackjack game becomes slower. Furthermore, you can make the wrong decisions.

History of the Game 

Most historians believe that blackjack was born in the 17th century in Europe. It is believed that the French gamblers were sitting in the salons of noble lords and played “vingt-et-un”, which in French means “twenty-one”. At the same time, the legendary Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes wrote a story about a great swindler of blackjack and his friend, who were interested in the game “veintiuno” (translated from the Spanish “twenty-one”). In Italy there was also a similar game called “Sette e Mezzo” (translated from Italian “seven and a half”), which became fashionable among the Italian nobility.

In all these games there was a general rule. If cards exceeding 21 points came into the player‘s hands, then he lost. And the one who has gained the most and has not exceeded 21 won. 

Blackjack was brought to America by emigrants. At this time, gambling was gaining popularity there, that is why the enterprising gamblers moved to the West.

In 1931, a small Nevada city, desperate for income during the Great Depression, became the place of Blackjack, making gambling legal. As a result, the small town became a precursor of modern casinos. The name of Blackjack came from a rule that allowed players to win back their bet tenfold if their first two cards came, the ace and the jack of spades.

In 1962, a young mathematician named Edward Thorp used a primitive computer to analyze typical blackjack hand distributions. Using his research and computer simulations, he developed the basic blackjack strategy and became one of the most outstanding personalities in modern blackjack history.

It was he who introduced the idea of counting cards in blackjack, which could be used to track which cards had already come out and, having analyzed possible options, to decide how to place their bets. 

In the 1980s and 1990s, a group of MIT students began applying Thorp’s methods in practice. This group used the basic blackjack strategy of counting cards to win millions from casinos around the world. Yet, their actions were considered a violation of blackjack rules. As a result of these events, blackjack rules were slightly changed in favor of casinos.

The French, Americans and Italians are still fighting for the right to call Blackjack their game. To tell the truth, many people admit that it is America that owes such popularity to Blackjack. Now it is difficult to imagine that once this game was not so popular. It was because the players lost all their money too quickly. 


All in all, blackjack is a gambling game you can enjoy, even if you are a beginner. So, learn the rules and never overrate your chances of winning, Regular practice will sooner or later lead you to a great victory.