Okay, moving on. What happens when the dealer’s upcard is not an Ace? Then, it’s time to play your hand and now, we will go over all of the playing options. 

Hitting in Blackjack

When the dealer has no Ace as an upcard, the game continues. The dealer will ask if the players want another card starting from his immediate left. A player wanting a card will indicate by tapping or scratching the table with his finger. The act of taking another card is known as Hitting. Hand gestures are used so that the player’s intentions are clearly known by the dealer, and to enable the security personnel to monitor the game using the closed-circuit cameras hung above from the ceiling.

How to play Blackjack: "hit" signal

When a player receives another card, the value is added to the previous one(s) and they can keep hitting (or taking a hit) until the total number reaches, or exceeds 21 hence losing their bet.

Standing in Blackjack

When a player refuses to take another card, they are said to be Standing. Players who choose to “stand” will wave their hands over their cards with their palm facing down.

You should note that the hand gestures are different when the cards are dealt face down. Here, players are allowed to pick their cards. In this case, taking a hit will be indicated by scratching the table with the edge of the cards, and placing the cards under the bet in their box signifies a standing position.

How to play Blackjack: "Stand" signal


Surrendering in Blackjack

Rather than hitting or standing, some casinos will offer a surrender option. which is actually a good rule that benefits players who use it properly. However, it’s a luxury that comes at a price; half your total bet. You are free to make the ‘surrender’ call with any two cards, but it is best to only use it when you have a weak total, let’s say a 10 and a 6, giving you a 16 against the dealer’s upcard 10. When you say ‘surrender’ in these casinos, the dealer will take away half your bet and remove your cards. By using the surrender option properly, you will lose less money in the long run.

When all the players have decided to either stand or hit (or surrender), the dealer then plays his own hand. Unlike the players, however, the dealer is expected to keep drawing whenever his total is 16 or less, and to stop at a total value of 17 or more.

How to play Blackjack: dealer must hit soft 17

If the dealer busts with a total above 21, then even money is paid to the remaining players as mentioned above.

Each player’s total card value is compared to the dealer’s total, if he doesn’t bust before the end of each round. A winner has a total closer to 21 than the dealer while losing bets have totals lower than the dealer’s total. A Push (tie) occurs when the player and dealer have equal totals. The wins are paid off and the losing bets are taken in by the dealer then he deals a new round.

These are the basics of how to play Blackjack.

Now, before we introduce you to how you can win in Blackjack, let’s look at some other important playing options.

Doubling Down in Blackjack

You double down in Blackjack by placing an amount that is equal to your original bet. This is placed right behind your original bet, or beside it (depending on the dealer’s preference), and the dealer will give you one more card. The new card is always given sideways.

Blackjack double down bet | American Casino Guide Book

Doubling down is done only on the first 2 cards, and most casinos allow this. When the cards are dealt face down, you will have to turn over your cards before requesting a double down and the dealer will give you an additional card face down. Double down is good and always to your advantage if you’re allowed to do so in any 2 cards. However, most casinos may only allow a double down if your 2 cards total 10 or 11.

Being allowed to double down is a very good rule for players.

Splitting in Blackjack

Splitting occurs when you have a pair for your first 2 cards. In this case, you  play each card as a separate hand. When you split your pair, the dealer will give you a card to play with one of the pairs while the other one is reserved and played later with another card issued by the dealer.

For example, let’s say you have a pair of 6’s and you want to split your pair, the dealer will separate your 6’s and give you a card on your first 6. After playing it out, the dealer will then give you the second 6 with another card to play. Splitting, however, is different from doubling down in that you can play out your hand normally and are not limited to just one additional card, with the exception of Aces.

When you split an Ace pair, you only get one card each for the pair. If you get a total of 21 from the split,  it is not counted as a blackjack and you only get even money on your bet if you win with it. Splitting a 10-value pair is possible but it’s not a wise move to make since splitting 10’s will only make you break a secured 20.

When cards are face-up, you simply tell the dealer you want to split. When they’re dealt face down, first turn them face up and then request a split from the dealer.

Being able to split pairs is also a good rule for blackjack players.

When should you split in Blackjack?

The question of when you should split pairs may be totally dependent on the casino you are visiting because some will allow you to split pairs and some casinos may not. Let’s take a look into when to split a pair if the casino allows it.

When you’re allowed to split, remember to always split your Aces and 8’s. Splitting a pair of 8’s helps remove the terrible number, 16, from your hand and you play the 8’s separately. This gives you a better chance to win.

ALWAYS split 8s in blackjack | American Casino Guide Book

When you split a pair of Aces, you might get a 10-value card which gives you a perfect 21. Though it is not counted as a blackjack, you still get an even-money payoff rather than a 3-to-2 payment for blackjack as we saw earlier in this article.

Next rule. Never split a pair of 5’s or 10’s. A pair of 10’s gives you a 20 which is a great number, and a pair of 5’s gives you a 10 that you’ll want to double down on unless a 10 or an Ace is the dealer’s upcard.

Splitting 2’s, 3’s and 7’s should only be done when the dealer has any number between 2 and 7 as his upcard. Split 4’s only when the dealer’s upcard is at its weakest (5 or 6 as we shall see later on). Doing a split on 6’s should only be done when the dealer’s up card is between 2 and 6. Lastly, 9’s should always be split with the exception that the dealer has an upcard of 7 a 10 or an Ace.

You don’t split 9’s against 7, because, should  the dealer have a 10 as the down card, your pair gives you an 18 which is greater than his 17. It is rather obvious why you shouldn’t split 9’s against a dealer’s upcard of 10.

Splitting nines in blackjack | American Casino Guide Book

Make these quick changes when the casino does not allow you to double down after a split. Only split 6’s against an upcard of 3,4,5 or 6. Never split 4’s; and split 2’s and 3’s only against an upcard of 4,5,6 or 7. You can stick to the rest as they apply in this case too.

Okay, having covered the basics of how to play Blackjack and the other options available for players in-game, let’s now move on to Part 3:  Blackjack Basic Strategy.

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