A Beginner’s Guide to the Basics of Blackjack


Blackjack is a game of skill, and strategy can improve your chances of winning. A smart blackjack betting strategy is to increase your bet in increments, and stop when you’re losing.

You should only double down if the dealer has a face card or an ace showing. Otherwise, doubling down can be risky and you might lose more money.

Game rules

Blackjack is a game that relies on skill and knowledge more than luck. There are a few important rules that players should know before playing. Those rules include splitting pairs, the dealer’s face-up card, and insurance.

When you have a pair of cards with the same value, you can split them by scraping them on the table gently or using your hand to wave them towards yourself. This will let the dealer know that you want another card.

The dealer will give you additional cards until you decide to “Stand” or your total passes 21, and you bust. The dealer will then reveal their own card, and if it is a 10, you can make an insurance bet on half of your original bet.


Blackjack has changed a lot over the years, some subtle and some major. But the basic rules of the game remain the same. Players can choose to hit, stand, double down, or surrender, and they may also split pairs. In some cases, a player can even place an insurance bet against the dealer’s hole card, which pays 2-1 if the dealer has a blackjack. If you’re a serious card counter, then it’s important to know the betting rules and how to take advantage of them. Colin McLeod is a blackjack expert who runs the Blackjack Apprenticeship training course. He’s been counting cards for more than 15 years and once ran a multi-million dollar blackjack team.


Insurance is a side bet that a blackjack player can place against the dealer. It’s usually a sucker bet, but it can make sense for players who know how to count cards. A card counter can tell when the deck is rich in ten-value cards by looking at the ratio of these cards to non-ten-value cards.

The expected value of the insurance bet is negative, meaning that it will cost the player money over time. It’s therefore best to avoid this bet and stick with basic strategy instead.

Dealer’s face-down card

Before the dealer deals each player two cards, they must place their bets in the betting box. The dealer will also receive two cards, but only one is face up while the other, known as the dealer’s hole card or downcard, remains unseen. The dealer checks this card automatically before players are allowed to play their hands.

The goal of blackjack is to beat the dealer. This is done by getting a hand value of 21 on your first two cards when the dealer does not have a blackjack. Many blackjack games offer side bets, like insurance, that pay when the dealer’s up card is an ace. This bet is not available at all casinos. Doubling down is a popular strategy that can be used when the dealer shows an ace and you have a pair of fives.

Splitting pairs

Splitting pairs in blackjack is a crucial decision that can make or break your bankroll. However, many players go against basic strategy and split pairs they should not, especially when the dealer has a weak face-up card. For instance, it is never wise to split a pair of tens, as they can easily bust in one hit. This is a huge mistake that will cost you in the long run.

A pair of tens is one of the best hands you can start with in blackjack, and splitting it will reduce your chances of winning by two-thirds. Similarly, a pair of fours should never be split as they will give you only low-value face cards that will make it difficult to build a strong hand.

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